On January 24, 1848, one lucky fellow named James W. Marshall found gold in California. For the next seven years, hordes of hopefuls flocked to the West Coast state in hopes of striking it rich with a pickaxe and just a bit of luck. For the vast majority of them, that never happened. What did happen was thousands of opportunistic entrepreneurs making a fortune selling gold seekers the tools they needed for forty times the actual price.
While self-publishing is by no means a new idea, it follows a similar trend. According to Wikipedia (so take the info with a grain of salt), in 2008, there were more books self-published than published by traditional means for the first time in history. For those who got into the eBook publishing game that early, the following handful of years were truly fruitful. The eBook market expanded rapidly as people not only accepted digital books, but embraced them with amazing enthusiasm. Those authors made tidy little fortunes, some even went full-time or built up enough status to rival traditionally published bestsellers, and like James W. Marshall, those early success stories had budding authors all over the world flocking to self-publishing in droves.
But that growth stage of endless opportunity is over now.