In traditional publishing, an author may earn, for example, a 10 percent royalty on sales, the agent gets 15 percent and the publisher keeps the rest. When an author receives an advance upfront, no royalties are paid until the publisher recoups that advance.
With self-publishing, the author deals directly with a printer and distributor, and produces a book at much lower cost than print-on-demand, perhaps $4.00 per book. At a selling price of $20, the author might gross $16 for each book sold. But then the distributor takes about 35 percent, warehousing and advertising costs vary but are unending. So the take-home, after managing the business of being a publisher, is still not grand.
Print-on-demand (POD) requires upfront payment to the printing firm, and they also take a percentage of each sale, to cover cost of the book, making it available to online retailers, and the POD firm processes and fulfills orders. Their fee also covers your presence on their web site, online catalog, and their profit. What's left for you depends on the firm and on your contract It is usually about 35 to 40 percent of the book's retail price, paid to you monthly or quarterly, on all sales, from the first copy sold.
You don't earn royalties on books that you purchase for resale, but you can buy them for about 50% off list price. So you have a low start-up cost, fast production and you earn back your cost from the very first book sold. Using POD, your book need never go out of print.
Ebooks cost almost nothing to make from an existing manuscript, and profits are upwards of 80 percent on each sale.
Isn't it time you release your writing?