Philip: Good article.
Self-publishing is easy. No need to pay someone a lot of money to do what you can do yourself with a bit of grit and determination.
Alas, much of this unedited writing is flat out terrible. Just because you can buy a hammer doesn’t mean you can build a house. Amazon now has the world’s largest repository of awful scribbling.
If you think you will make money off your Kindle book, you probably think you will win the lottery too. It might happen, and I might be eaten by a Great White in Pennsylvania too.
You are right about traditional publishing too. Few who publish traditionally ever make any money. Acclaimed poets almost never make enough money to live from royalties. They give readings, workshops, or teach. Or starve.
Most traditionally published novels sell under 1,ooo copies. Even the ones in the NYTBR. Do the math.
If you are self-published, you have to promote your own book. Few have the mindset, money, time or inclination to do so.
Almost all published writing is now vanity writing. That’s fine. Nice to have a book to give your friends. But don’t kid yourself that there is more to it. There isn’t.