Having worked with six traditional publishers I can tell you, it doesn't get any easier.
Yes, I've found what avenues do and don't work for selling books (mostly in the don't category). But most of us have to fend for ourselves, and many of us have gone feral.
Many of my non-writing friends operate under the misguided notion that writers make bank. Most of us don't. In fact, many of us lose money on a book when it comes to ordering author copies, sending free ARCs, and paying for marketing.
Yes, you heard that right.
Although some publishers do provide some marketing help, you pay for most of it yourself.
And to make matters worse, you operate based on the publisher's timeline. If something goes wrong at the publishing house, you have to roll with the punches and explain to readers what is happening.
By way of example, I want to highlight what has happened in the process of my most recent-to-release book. Not to bash the publisher or to tell writers, "Don't do traditional publishing," but to show the amount of grit and determination involved in getting the book into readers' hands.
A Recent Example
The book and publisher shall go unnamed in this post, to preserve anonymity, but below is an example of one instance of perseverance needed in the world of traditional publishing. In January, three months away from our release, my coauthor and I asked our publisher about updates on the preorder. Unfortunately, our publisher had a surgery that left her in recovery for a longer period of time than anticipated, with no way to contact us. So the process went like this:
January 26: Reached out to the publisher about preorder
February 9: Followed up
February 26: Followed up
March 5: Followed up
March 6: Having not heard, nor received a cover, we created our own
March 13: Followed up
March 20: Got a hold of the publisher's assistant to ask what was happening
March 27: Followed up once more
April 6: Received an Ingram link from the publisher to upload the cover and interior of the book on our own. The file upload doesn't work
April 7: Reached out to the publisher to ask if they can do it on their end
April 8-13: Continue to reach out to publisher and assistant, ask to bump back date
April 13: Finally hear from publisher. We try Ingram again
April 14: Reach out to Ingram Support. A rather terse Customer Service representative told us we were simply using the wrong browser. We tried a different browser. Nothing happened
April 15: After not hearing back from Support, we ask Ingram for a new representative.
April 15: Files submitted, and Ingram says it should be up in 1-4 business days
April 20: The original pub date passes
April 21: Late at night, Ingram says there's an error
April 22: My co-author attempts to readjust the files. I upload them. Supposedly they went through
And now we wait yet another 1-4 business days.
And this is just one example of frustrations an author must face. We haven't touched marketing, lack of reader engagement, amongst a host of other issues. You have to want it, and you have to want it badly.