Here's the skinny on how much publishing online costs me. NOTHING.
My books are in the top 10 in the Science Fiction category on Mobipocket because the readers enjoy them, rate them, spread the word and people continue to purchase and enjoy them. I'm very fortunate.
I do not pay Amazon a fee to get my books registered with their Kindle reader or in print on their site. I use Createspace's free service for print and Mobipocket's distribution network to list my eBooks. I do order print copies for myself, but that's the same as anyone ordering a copy from Amazon (except for my massive discount), they don't charge a dime for publishing.
Lulu.com offers all their services for free, and they're very happy to have me.
Any place you see my books you can rest assured that they didn't charge me anything to put them there, in fact, they listed them because they see that they're selling elsewhere, mostly on Mobipocket. They want to bring that success to their retail outlets as well.
I don't pay for marketing services either. I use Twitter, my Blogs, Facebook, and most of all people who I have a connection with to to get the word out. I also frequent other blogs, comment on them as often as I can, participate in online events and put a lot of hours into guerrilla Internet marketing. Oh, and don't email me with a "get 15,000 followers in one month" or another "make sure you're heard!" marketing scheme. I don't care about reaching 15,000 random people, I'm interested in reaching people who are interested in what I do specifically. I also enjoy connecting with people who are interesting, which doesn't happen often with mass join scams.
I also don't pay for advertising. Effective Internet advertising is an art form and to be honest, I'd rather use online social networking. There's more feedback and it's a lot more fun.
For everyone whose ever asked me how it's done; I don't have any magic trick. I don't pay someone to do the work for me, and vanity presses are expensive money pits. I work about 10 hours a day between writing and marketing.
I'll never, ever pay someone else to publish me. In fact, I won't take any offer on the rights to my work from a publisher that comes with an advance under four figures. I'm fortunate enough to have a number of readers who enjoy my work. I do my best to entertain them and in return they buy my work in the format that is most convenient for them. I should never have to pay anyone to publish my work because those retailers and publishers are going to make money from selling my books. It's bad enough that I only recieve a 30%-35% royalty on most titles as an independent. That sounds like a lot to some of you, but you have to consider that I don't sell the volume that published authors do, no where near. (Less than 5% of what a non-best selling author sells).
That brings up another point. I can't afford to pay for publishing or marketing services! Being a successful self published author to me means making enough money to keep writing, to keep entertaining readers. I live a happy, simple life where I get to work the trade I prefer without frills.
I'd like to end this post on a positive note by thanking the readers, who have been very supportive. I've said it before and I'll say it again; they keep a roof over my head, the lights (and Internet connection) on, and food on the table. I thank you and hope that you continue to enjoy my work enough to remain a reader and spread the word.
[Where do you want my books to appear next? Leave a comment!]