I don’t point out these challenges to discourage you, rather, to inspire you to take charge of getting your high-quality material to readers yourself.
Good writing and working with an editor are always essential, but today it’s possible to publish a book yourself, at no cost. You work with online ebook sales points (such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble) or on-demand printers (such as Create Space and Ingram Spark).
If your reaction is to say you don’t want to learn the how-to steps of publishing yourself, that’s okay. If there is not a fellow author or friend to assist in this fairly straightforward process, you can hire someone to help.
A quick look on Twitter or other social media platforms will reveal hundreds of people who provide these services for modest fees. It does not take special skills, just the ability to follow instructions to format books.
Though there is no guarantee you can make money with your self-published books, it is possible. You probably want a sense of income possibilities before you spend time writing and getting a book to readers.
Amazon pays a 70% royalty for ebooks priced from 2.99 to 9.99. For a 2.99 book, that’s $2.06 per sale. Amazon pays 35% royalty for books priced less than 2.99 and those priced more than $9.99. For a 99 cent book, you make 34 cents. Amazon charges a small delivery fee, which is why the 70/35% royalties are not exactly that.
Barnes and Noble pays $1.94 for a book priced at $2.99, and Smashwords pays $2.46 for books sold at their site.
Smashwords sends books to almost twenty other places, including the site from which libraries buy ebooks (Overdrive). You make less when Smashwords serves as the go-between (it’s called an aggregator), but who wants to load books to all those websites?
Income from paperbacks can be less per unit, unless you charge a high price for your books. However, since it costs you nothing to publish a paperback, it makes sense to produce them. If you don’t, what will you show your friends? How will you do a book signing? Oh boy, book signings!
I do my books in regular size type and large print, generally using Create Space, an Amazon company. I use Ingram Spark some, but they charge fees.
Bottom line, if you work with a publisher you probably make $1 or $2 per book or less, so you have nothing to lose by trying it yourself.
If you have not written your book and are thinking about publishing or marketing, push aside those thoughts. Nothing gets to readers until you write regularly (which could be an hour per week) and are willing to revise to make your writing better.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one.