There's an article at https://janefriedman.com/self-publishing-debut-literary-novel/ from an author who's self-published her debut literary novel and it goes into quite a bit of detail about the promotional tools used and the costs thereof. It also, to me, gave a really interesting insight into the mindset/finances of the process. The author has weirdly huge support on Patreon (raised $6 909) which changes the numbers a bit, but honestly, Patreon support has always mystified me. I'd like to know who her supporters are... friends and family? If so, it feels like a way to leach money from loved ones, which I'm not comfortable with. But maybe she's just really good at finding patrons...I don't know. Anyway, non-Patreon numbers show promotional expenses of $3 356 and book sales of $803.90, so without the Patreon injection this project would have cost her some serious money (and of course we won't get into the time spent). All the same, later in the article she wonders "Maybe... this is what success looks like for a debut literary fiction novel from a self-published author with a medium-sized online platform." She says that "The only thing that hasn’t been successful about this process are the (relatively) low sales." And at first I was dismissive and thought she was being a Pollyanna and/or in denial about the failure of her project, but then I remembered that my goals aren't her goals. I judge the success or failure of my writing financially, but she clearly doesn't. She's found quite a few things about her experience that she's pleased about (good reviews, events, interest in the second book) and doesn't seem discouraged by her results. So, yay for her! I think so many self-publishing proponents try to sell it on its financial merits and/or on some sort of fight-the-power rebellious angle. Those don't compel me. But maybe this article is a better model. I think it's one similar to @Lew 's attitude (although I don't want to speak for him!). The money isn't the important thing; it's not the way to measure success. The experience is what's important. That's not how I'm playing the game, but it doesn't mean other people can't enjoy playing that way.