When people ask me why I write, I say it's because I was born a storyteller. I have a tin ear and two left feet, so music and dance were out as a way to tell stories. I can draw a little, but not enough to do what I would want to do. Telling stories in person is fun, but finding an audience is hard to do. That leaves writing. Putting a story down on (real or virtual) paper gives me the best opportunity to reach people. I want to make a connection; I want to tell a story and make people care about how it ends; I want to create characters and make them come alive in other people's heads.
Self-publishing is a fantastic breakthrough because in the past, unless an editor thought your story was marketable, it went nowhere. Notice I didn't say “good,” I said “marketable.” Editors are in the business of buying books from authors that they think readers will buy from them. RandomHouse didn't buy Fifty Shades of Gray from E.L. James because they thought it was great literature; they bought it because they knew people would buy it. Thousands of people were already buying it from online sellers because the author had self-published it. An editor might think a book is beautifully written, but if he doesn't think anyone will buy it, he won't buy it either.
Self-publishing has been around a long time, but in the print world, it costs a lot of money to do. In addition, a self-published print book had no good path to get into bookstores. There were a few authors who started that way, but not many. eBooks were a game changer not only because they were cheaper to produce, but because because their distribution is online, and not controlled by companies that deal only with publishers.
One nice benefit of technology is that online sites like Goodreads and online retailers like Amazon allow readers to post their thoughts on the books they have read. Admittedly, not all reviews are positive, but still, enough are that I can get a good buzz of connectivity, and know that I suceeeded. I'll take that deal!