I'm making cider. Just like anything, it's very easy to make good cider your first time out, but perhaps to master the art of making really excellent cider it takes more practice. I consider myself still pretty far on the beginner end. However I do think cider is the easiest thing to make in the world, especially if you get fresh pressed juice from someone else -- it's a lot of work if you press the apples yourself obviously! But once you have the juice, you have several options:
1) Just let the wild yeast take over and see what you get. Very unpredictable results, but some folks swear this is the best.
2) Add 1-2 Campden tablets crushed per gallon, wait 24 hours, then pitch your desired yeast. Most folks go this route.
3) Heat the juice to 170 F for 15 minutes to kill the wild yeast, cool and pitch your desired yeast. I prefer this method to totally kill all the beasts, and I find it lends a certain "Grandma's applesauce" flavor to the finished cider that you might not get otherwise.
My favorite yeasts are Cote des Blancs and US-05. I like the ease and results from these dry yeasts. I have not tried the liquid cider yeasts at all and thus cannot comment. I have heard mixed reviews on those.
For 5 or 10 gallons of cider, and liquid yeast, you really need to make a yeast starter ahead of time. Take maybe 2 quarts of your cider, follow one of the 3 options above, pitch your yeast, and let that go for a couple days, and THEN pitch this yeast starter into the other 5 to 10 gallons. A good fermentation temperature is low 60s.
I don't add much if any sugar to my ciders, as the plain juice will often ferment to a specific gravity of 1.000 or less! So the alcohol level is typically around 6-7% all by itself without added sugar.
The safest thing is to let you cider ferment to dryness, then give it another month of conditioning to make sure it's totally done and to let the yeast clear, and then bottle. Fermentation can be fast but is typically a bit slower than beer.
Carbonation by bottle priming can be unpredictable. I have had ciders that were perfectly carbonated, and under and over carbonated as well. Most often overcarbonated due to slow refermentation in the bottles. For the first ~month you might not get any carbonation at all, then all of a sudden a couple weeks later it can go from flat to carbonated.
So... cider behaves a little strangely, and is not always predictable. But it is almost always VERY tasty. That's been my experience.