Booklocker.com to publish The Shy Writer: An Introvert's Guide to Writing Success, but I'm not bad at keeping up with change in this industry.
In my opinion, your first decision is e-book or paper or both. Who is your readership? Are they paperback readers or are they big on e-readers? Frankly, the genre fiction subjects of sci-fi, fantasy, young adult, romance, and mystery are selling hot as e-books. How-to nonfiction probably sells better on paper. Study your niche and determine what your readers prefer.
Let's say you want to go the e-book route first. Yes, it's cheaper. If you are like me, you don't want to learn all that formatting if you can help it. Amazon wants one style, Barnes & Noble another, and so many others. You can see the long list of formats at Wikipedia. Don't let it bother you. You don't need to learn all that. Just know that format matters.
You can learn format at each site. Or you can go through someone to format your manuscript for you, like Bookbaby, or the well-known Joshua Tallent (@ebookarchitects), owner of eBook Architects. Or you can go to a place like Smashwords and let them format for Apple, B&N, Kobo, Sony and a few others, and offer e-book sales for you on their site.
I've wondered for a long time whether disbursing an e-book in all those formats was worth the trouble. Writers have told horror stories about taking two weeks to format a book correctly, in one specific format, not to mention all the others. Then there's the extra cost of the various formats unless you want to face a huge learning curve to understanding the technical jargon of each one. Time and money.
Then I read a piece by Morris Rosenthal in which he touts Amazon's Kindle the way to go for e-books and CreateSpace for paper.
I see the Amazon ecosystem as a tremendous leap forward for authors. Publishing with Amazon is the only logical first step for new authors, unless they can land a six figure advance from a trade. And despite the spam and flames, customer reviews bring authors face-to-face with readers in a way that rarely happened with the self selected audiences who would show up for a book reading and signing.
I applaud this man for saying what many writers think. Most readers know how to buy from Amazon first and foremost over other venues. Who doesn't recognize the smiley-face box? Who owns a Kindle and doesn't understand what Whispernet is? And he addresses the fact that the self-published are treated the same as the traditionally published.
Amazon treats self published books exactly like they treat trade published books, the books sell on their merits, as Amazon measures merits. A self publisher will never get the front and center table in a Barnes&Noble or other bookstore, a best, they’ll have one or two copies hidden away on a shelf somewhere. On Amazon, a self publisher who has the right book for the right market can get that front and center table, and make a very good living.
So, if you are trying to figure out all the confusing terminology, guidance and choices in the self-publishing industry, and you have a book ready to go, I suggest you cut your teeth on Amazon - Kindle for e-book and CreateSpace for paper. I'm not saying the other guys aren't any good. I'm just saying that readers know Amazon well. And no matter how good the other guys are, the lion's share of e-book sales takes place via the Kindle format. Then once you feel comfortable with that format, delve in to the others. Just don't let the convoluted collection of e-book how-to tutelage keep you from publishing if you're primed and ready to roll.