Hugh Howey is the author of some really great science fiction novels. Most famously, his “WOOL” collection (the Silo Series), but also his Molly Fyde series is definitely worth picking up.
He has been an indy author/publisher, hitting the scene through online distribution of his books. Here's his thoughts on that:
Where you once had vanity presses that suckered people out of tens of thousands of dollars for crates of books that would never get sold, you now have the ability to make professional-looking books that are in print forever at a fraction of the cost. And people still want to focus on the fact that “most authors lose money.” No shit. Most musicians lose money. Most painters lose money. Most photographers lose money. It's art. Nobody is really losing anything. We are creating something. We are expressing ourselves. We are doing something positive and lasting with our free time. There's no losing here, only winning.
If it costs you a few hundred bucks to make an infinite supply of your book, which will be available until humanity goes extinct, and anyone is going to claim that you lost something in this exchange, tell them to go talk to an amature photographer. Photographers enjoy a good laugh.
I'm seeing lots of parallels to education and edtech here. Cue Gardner's Bags of Gold speech. We're living in a time when it's never been easier to share what we do, at little or no cost, and people get hung up on how they will need to squeeze their creations through a press to extract every last drop of monetization out of it. That's not the point. Create because you are creative. Share because you give a shit. Or don't.
I don't generate a profit from anything I do outside of my Day Jobâ„¢. At least, not directly. But being creative and sharing makes me better at my Day Jobâ„¢, so has likely made me “profit” indirectly. How do you calculate that? Easy. You don't. Well, I don't.
Now, if you haven't already, go pick up the Silo Series (Wool, Shift, and Dust). Then, if you're looking for some fun reads ((although probably geared more at a YA audience, but whatever. you're not the boss of me.)), check out the Molly Fyde series.
Then, go make some art, dammit! If your primary concern is to be worried about what that costs, you're doing it wrong.