This is gonna be a lil different, and a lot of people are probably gonna call BS on the first part...but it's my story. And I thought I might as well.
I REALLY wanted to be professionally published. Like BAD. But after a ton of rejections, a terrifyingly bad critique by my dream agent I kind of accepted that I just wasn't cut out for the pro game. I decided to self publish. Just...not my novel yet. My goal has been to build up monthly sales until they hit a certain number, and then break out the big guns. That way the novels will have an actual audience, and won't be starting from zero.
I also knew I wouldn't have that many expenses starting out. I am an artist, I knew I could do my own book covers and have them look fair-to-middlingly good. Editing is still the big issue, as I can't afford a real editor and my backup (my mom proofreads for a living, and she's good at pointing out continunity issues and fuzzy story choices. Also spelling, which is not my strong point) doesn't always have the time to keep up with my schedule. Which has been a small book (20-35K words) a month.
The results have been mixed.
I've had books online for just under six months. A whole bunch of little short stories, plus an anthology that put all those little stories into one place. I published this in July and sold a grand total of one book.
This one: http://www.amazon.com/Silver-Bullet-...6637937&sr=1-1
I published nothing in August and sold three copies.
In September I published a little sci-fi novelette (it's just barely over 25k) that i had written.
I didn't want to write it because it's basically fan fic with the serial numbers filed off, but I couldn't work on any other projects with that story rattling around in my head, and I couldn't justify working on something that I wasn't going to release later. So please understand I kind of consider it to be the black sheep of the catalogue, and the one story I would have gladly shoved under the rug as my personal guilty pleasure.
Remember this. It makes what happens next kind of funny.
Anyway, I also signed up for KDP and started using the free books to drive sales. I sold 17 books in September, 12 of them were the sci-fi book.
This is the sci-fi book: http://www.amazon.com/Starbleached-e...6637937&sr=1-2
October: I released a story that ties in to the novel I ultimately want to release, a kind of prequil. Paranormal fantasy involving fairies, a psychadelic gay dwarf and a haunted battleship/museum. It has gotten one three-star review from someone whose primary complaint was that there wasn't enough romance in it. I sold 36 books in October.
14 were the sci-fi book.
6 were the paranormal fantasy book that I actually wanted to sell.
This was the paranormal fantasy book: http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Ghost-Exi...6637937&sr=1-5
November: Epic fantasy that ties into ANOTHER novel I plan to release, in the hopes that the audience would be all like YES GIVE ME MORE OF THIS GUY.
Everything went wrong with this book. EVERYTHING. The story IMHO is good but DAMN, I was glad to hit "publish" and know I wouldn't have to touch it again for a long time.
I sold a grand total of two copies of that book, both to family members. However, I sold 27 books in November, and 16 of them were the sci-fi book.
This is the epic fantasy book: http://www.amazon.com/Found-Thing-Ta...6637937&sr=1-3
December so far: No book released. I am tired. 24 books sold so far. Eleven copies of the goddamned sci-fi book, four copies of the paranormal fantasy book, two copies of the epic book, and a scattering of sales from short stories. I usually get most of my sales (Of the sci-fi book) when I put the anthology on freebies, or when the anthology sells.
So in total I have sold 107 books in four months. 55 of them were of the sci-fi book that probably shouldn't even be a thing.
And because that's the thing that people want, I'm releasing a sequel to it next month. I'll also probably discontinue the two fantasy series once the current story arcs in both play themselves out, and come up with something new to fill their places (and hopefully come up with a better flagship series than that DAMN sci-fi book. I like it, but I know it shouldn't be there.)
I have no idea what will happen next month. I haven't done much marketing, besides offering books for free and pasting stuff all over my blog, mostly because I have NO IDEA how to market things, and I also have no time. The best sales tool I've found is releasing short stories via KDP and making them free for a few days.
I tried Smashwords and got exactly zero sales from them the two months I focused there. I enrolled in KDP prime in September, and that's when things really took off.
Part of me is very sad about all this, because I still really, REALLY would have liked to be professionally published, and all the reading I've done has basically told me once you self publish the professional industry wouldn't touch you with a twelve foot pole, unless you're an outlier and I have never been outlier material.
The rest of me is sitting over in a corner petting 107 sales and whispering "my precious" over the excel sheet I put together.
So there it is. My experience. Take it or leave it.