Yes, it was overwhelming when I first considered publishing, so I would like to help others as best I can. The publishing industry has changed a lot in the last ten years, more so in the last five. It has become nearly impossible to land an agent if you don’t have awards or experience with writing or publishing that will make your query letter jump out of the slush pile. Fortunately, though, self-publishing is now a great option for those willing to take complete control of their book. Besides writing a book people want to read, successful self-publishing means hiring an editor ($400-1,000 per project) and hiring a cover artist ($ varies too much to list, and it depends on genre and quality). It also means learning how to write compelling blurbs and figuring out how to use keywords. Some people may have trouble converting their word document to the proper format so that it can be uploaded to Amazon or other ebook distributors, but that’s the easiest of everything I listed. All of this stuff takes practice, no matter how savvy you are, especially writing a good blurb! I spent over 20 hours on my first blurb—Bastial Energy. Even though I’ve gotten better at it, my blurb for Fire Games, my seventh book, still took me around 15 hours over two weeks.
It certainly helps your chances for success if you can write quickly or if you have enough patience to come close to completing your second book by the time your first is published—because series sell better than stand-alone books, and releasing your second book will help promote your first. Don’t get discouraged. Most people write for many years while they’re working full-time because their first book doesn’t net them enough money to live on. In fact, more often than not, five books won’t earn enough income for you to quit your job. There’s luck involved, and the more books you write and publish, the better your chances of finding some luck. I feel extremely fortunate that Bastial Energy sold enough copies for me to focus on writing full time. I’m so thankful of my readers.
For more information on the self-publishing world, and everything it entails, I highly recommend regularly visiting Amazon’s writer’s forum: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/board,60.0.html
For those of you who are aiming to land an agent, I recommend Agent Query Connect: http://agentqueryconnect.com/
Both of these forms have helped me tremendously.