The cheapest way to sink your book to the bottom of the ocean is to publish it online for free. Great!
It really is easy to get an eBook online. There are a lot of platforms you can access but let's just look at amazon kindle and smashwords because they cover most of the market. Of course both of them will give you some shining examples of people who have made it as authors. Success is usually defined by number of copies sold, praise in the traditional print media and yes, almost ready to give up the day job. If nothing else, this is the keyword that seems to define an author. If so, the unemployment rate amongst writers must be in the high 90s.
No wonder. Think about it. Everybody with a word document is now a published writer. That's the curse and the blessing those free platforms have added to publishing. Everybody just throws their piece in the pot. Gems and garbage, all melted into one big fat stew. Still, it's free as long as you don't sell. Once you start selling you'll have to pay your way.
Remember, writers are in the business of make-believe. Few will actually tell you how miserable their sales figures really are. It can be pretty embarrassing - even for the big shots who have their autobiography ghost-written by capable hands.
Publishing platforms are the kings and queens of fiction. Pay close attention: when they show off their success stories they'll show you a young woman sitting in a cafe, musing about how beautiful life is now that she is a published author. Ask yourself: do I fit her profile? Do I have the same background in marketing and sales? Have I been published recently and actually sold a thousand copies or more? Do I have a thousand friends on Facebook? Do I present like her, talk like her? Where are the annoying kids?
"This is so boring, can we go now, Mum?"
Amazon is tricky in so many ways... Easy to access and easy to use but they keep their cards so close to their chest that nobody in the universe actually knows what they are doing, how they rate sales, how many downloads, visits and so on. I guess they didn't want to repeat the mistakes Google made by giving away the recipe for everybody's favourite cookies. Ok, they are mostly computers, apart from Tarzan and a board of humanoids who actually run the Amazon. I have no problem entering their jungle. It offers a free platform for all takers.
Change providers to Smashwords.
They are not as big as Amazon but they do cover Kobo and Barnes & Noble and they are growing. I strongly suggest you go on smashwords right now and publish something. Anything. You can publish a movie ticket of ten words. In any language. For an author, this really is great entertainment value.
If ever there was a reality check on what e-publishing really means, smashwords will pop your eyes!
You publish your masterpiece on smashwords and it will come up on top of the screen in all its virginal glory. Don't blink. Ten seconds later you have lost the top spot to something you think is a book but it could be a railway timetable. It's in Arabic so you'll never know. You don't have much time to worry about it because the next book scrolls up. Twenty thousand words with a bare-chested six-pack young man on the cover. See how many of them you'll find in the amazon top 100 but don't change the screen to count them, by now your brand new eBook exits the screen and disappears out of sight.
And that is where most eBooks stay for good.
The few eBooks that were successful in their own right, i.e. not spin-offs from print books, never made anybody rich. To make a sustainable living out of writing you'll have to get into print.