I used to find the term "vanity press" insulting. But once you've read enough self-published books, you get it. Sometimes, you don't have to go any further than the book's cover to see it. We are all very pleased with ourselves, of course, with our names in big letters on the front cover and our pictures on the back cover and our excellent, excellent work in print for the whole, wide world to see.
There are THIS JUST IN! self-published authors who have talent. I've read some self-published books that kept me quite engaged. One made me made me laugh and was useful in assessing whether I was an asshole. Call it vanity or ego, maybe self-determination (sounds better), but like driven garage-band musicians, independent authors have passion. Whether or not they will ever become mainstream is almost beside the point. For that reason, their work is not only worth exploring, you risk missing out if you don't.
The chances of being "discovered" by a literary agent or publishing house are one in a million. We'd all like to think that talent is the driving force but luck, timing and who you know also come into play. If writing is your passion, don't wait around. Keep writing, protect your work, don't stop dreaming and, if it's your wish, don't stop shopping your work around. Personally, I'm not waiting for someone else to anoint my shit. Capisce?
And that brings me around to the subject of a vanity podcast. I call it Independent Authors Speak. So far, the authors who have spoken are myself and Mike Archer. I've invited others to participate by sending me audio monologues about their inspirations, their self-publishing experiences and so forth. I do believe if you build it, they will come. Even if you're not a self-published author, you might enjoy engaging in some Schadenfreude over our artistic folly. So, check one out. Each episode is under ten-minutes long, enough for you to get a taste, come back for more or tune out forever.