Let’s be frank, if you hate hassle, you’re in the wrong line of work. Writing is about making a statement, and people who make statements make enemies. And don’t tell me ‘I’m only writing children’s books’, because either they make gay like Spongebob Squarepants, or you commit the cardinal sin and are for breastfeeding; the same can be said about the opposite. You’re writing brings you into the middle of any discussion you least thought about. Forget about no hassle right now.
If on the other hand you are scared of confronting an editor over your book, then self-publishing isn’t for you either. The editor is there to tell you everything that is bad (or perceptibly bad) about your manuscript. If you are so touchy about what you do, then your manuscript is probably riddled with inconsistencies. You can only self-publish if you have sent your book through hell, otherwise it will flop.
a book in print is far from free, it is quite costly and then you have to think
about how to ship them, too. Publishing houses have all the channels to ship
books in place. That raises the serious question why someone would want to
self-publish that way. Usually the reason is rejection by publishing houses. In
most cases, that rejection is warranted. Don’t self-publish if your book is
lacking, rework it and resubmit it. This will save you lots of money on a flop.
That’s a tricky one. You can get away with not having any initial costs when putting your book up for sale. There are some fairly large buts hidden in that sentence. If your book appears without a cover, then you have saved the money or the pain to make a cover. If that is good marketing is another question altogether. I would state that you need a cover; that means a photograph or a picture with the usual text parts. If you hold the copyright for photo, drawing or painting, then it is indeed free, if you do the designing of the cover yourself.
You don’t pay any of the major sites upfront. Barnes & Nobles, Smashwords, and Amazon charge you on your profits. Depending on which site you use, and which service options you choose, you could end up paying between 30% and 70% of sales. The latter is very close to how much a traditional publishing house calculates. They, on the other hand, bring out a book in print not to mention their marketing activity on your behalf. Free can be a very deceiving word.
You might have your book faster in some online shop than you would have it in a book store, but the slow-down on your side happens after that. When a print book goes into the shops, the marketing campaign has already run; sales people and regular customers will be aware of the book when it is delivered. When you self-publish, then no one gives a damn about it. You start at zero and have to do all the marketing on your own without established channels. You will spend the time you saved in trying to get the first reader interested.
Some of that publicity can be done for free. Setting up a Facebook page, starting Twitter accounts, making a Google+ page, and giving away free books will get you on the way of being noticed. That doesn’t means you sold a single copy so far. And all the time you spend on marketing your book is time you don’t have to write other things. At that point I would reclassify this free as seemingly free.
Once you notice that you need a marketing degree to work out strategies that work for your book (and there are reasons why people have marketing degrees from universities), you might decide to outsource the marketing. People regularly spend upwards of $2,000 dollars to promote their e-books in that way, in the hope that the book will take off. I really doubt that this qualifies as free. Think twice, maybe you should consider working for online essay writing service and make your money with honest labour?
With an e-book, you reach a certain market and a specific reader segment. You miss out on all the people who prefer to read in print. It may not be relevant to your career; if you write a really excellent book and get it noticed, people will read it. There are a few instances where successful e-books have been put into print versions by publishing houses long after they went online.
To keep that in perspective: Everyday, about a thousand books are published. That makes about 300,000 a year; and those are only the ones in the US. Out of these, about five a year get into print. Hope, you get my point.