I've been reading about self-publishing e-books because I'm moving toward republishing Saving the Planet & Stuff in that format. Among other things, it's a way for an author to maintain a backlist. In fact, my more recent books are already available as e-books through my publisher. It's probably the equivalent of the backlist for publishers, too.
Republishing a traditionally published book should be easier than self-publishing a brand new one, since it has already gone through both stages of editing, for content and copy, and there are some reviews to help with the marketing. You're not starting from scratch. Nonetheless, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by this project.
I've also been reading about established writers who are making the decision to leave traditional publishers and do their own publishing. Maybe this is what publishing is moving toward. I'm not making any predictions. But if it were to happen, there's a great deal of work involved for self-publishing...or independent...writers to do. For starters, they need to find editors, copy editors, cover illustrators, and, probably, marketing assistance. And, of course, they have to pay for all that going into the project.
Finding and keeping editors you want to work with, negotiating with illustrators over what a cover should look like, marketing every book yourself...we're talking a lot of time. It's time that's not going to writing or, shall we say, producing content but managing it after the fact. So I'm thinking that long in the future your more successful self-published authors might start hiring people to manage all the nonwriting work for them. That is looking very desirable to me right now.
What would these managers be called? Well, how about freelance, independent publishers?