^^ This is a great time to be an independent creator. E-book technology and print-on-demand mean that you don't even need to make that much of an initial investment like your mother's friend did. Even established writers are going that route. Larry Blamire, the guy who did Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
et cetera, published his collection of supernatural Western short stories through Lulu, the same publisher I used for my paperbacks. You can also publish e-books directly through Amazon or Barnes & Noble (and other independent publishers like Smashwords). I did that with my second short-story anthology-- I only charge 99 cents and I make three times as much per sale as I do with the paperbacks.
There are other options developing, too. Tim Pratt, a well-regarded fantasy author, has financed a couple of his books through Kickstarter.
So get going, dude, and keep us updated.