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We've published several books, and the author for our latest Vue book earned $20k on the opening weekend.

The economics change completely if you self-publish or publish with a smaller firm that has marketing abilities (and better royalty rates).

Self publishing is awesome because you keep all the money, but it takes years to build an audience.

Honestly, writing the manuscript is the easy part. Building an audience, marketing it, keeping the book up-to-date is just as hard as the original manuscript. But it can really pay off.

I'm ready to share this now: our book on Angular 2 did $400k a revenue, per year, the first two years. BUT the reason this was possible was we had a huge audience that trusted us.

Email marketing is more powerful in this space than you might believe. Even today.

If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to sign up for Ramit Sethi's emails and watch how he markets. After that, get every book on copywriting you can and learn how to write copy.

(Also, if you're interested in writing books with me for 50% royalties, my email is in my profile. I want to do books on Python and Node this year.)




BTW, fullstack.io barely works with an adblocker on. Can't download free chapter of your new React Native book. I'm accustomed to that on non-dev oriented sites, but might be a first for a site catering to devs. My blocker doesn't like 6 of your 20 (!) domains serving tracking / payment code.

Not saying you should cater to me, just that you might not realize it's happening.

Love the book covers. They are very attractive and professional.


Well, the other reason $400k in revenue was possible: you were writing about a popular JavaScript framework. There aren't many topics with such a wide audience.


>you were writing about a popular JavaScript framework.

When there's a gold rush on you're more likely to strike it rich selling picks and shovels than mining.


> There aren't many topics with such a wide audience.

What now? The number of people who develop in angular actively is probably in the low 6 figures. In the context of the world that's a very small audience.


In the context of programming languages and tech stacks, that is an astronomical audience though.

I work in a niche where there are two books that have ever been written, by the same author, and there might be a couple thousand people total in the whole world that use this particular SDK. Most technical books appeal to an incredible narrow slice of the already small pie that is software people.


I suspect that the total number of books written on SQL/C/C++/C#/Java etc probably significantly exceeds those written for niche languages. Similarly, Windows/Linux/Unix/iOS or MS Office or Visual Studio... across the various CS domains.


What niche? It’s almost a disservice to your niche not to mention it by name! The books too


Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business development. Michael Greenleaf has written a couple books, and there are maybe a double handful of people blogging about it.


What’s your plan for Skype for Business getting canned? Teams development?


That's many years down the pike, honestly. We still see a lot of customers using Lync 2010. People do not move fast in this segment.


Can confirm, the subject matter is really important. I accidentally wrote the most-read blog post on our company blog, and this might be my humility / impostor syndrome speaking but, it wasn't due to the content as much, but because it was using the right keywords in the title at the right time.


> Well, the other reason $400k in revenue was possible: ........ There aren't many topics with such a wide audience.

OP mentions Ramit Sethi, so have to quote his post on this statement, it's called "The Shrug Effect"

https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/success-and-the-s...


I'm simply pointing out that "the reason" cited is not the sole reason. No amount of effort will turn a book on Factor or SML into $400k of revenue.


    Self publishing is awesome because you keep all the money, but it takes years to build an audience.
I can totally relate to that. Some things about self-publishing were much easier than others. Building an audience is hardest so far. Experimented with Google and Facebook ads, stopped because it was too expensive.

Right now, I am only doing content (blog posts, ...) and Twitter. Sales are low, but I am not losing money anymore ;)

For my React-Book, that's OK. But with my other book about "Agile Anti-Patterns", I invested some money in Illustrations and other stuff: https://www.quickglance.at/agile_antipatterns.html So it would be nice to get that money back some time ;)

    Email marketing is more powerful in this space than you might believe. Even today.
I stopped that, too, because it did not work too well for me. And also there are quite a few legal implication when you do that in my country (always have been, not necessarily GDPR related).


I love the design of your site. Did you do it yourself? Did you get the illustrations from an artist you followed or something like UpWork?


A designer I know IRL helped me with the design. I also had a professional copy writer I know IRL help me with the German texts (not the English ones, though). Paid both of them, of course, but that was not too expensive, since they only helped, and I did a lot on my own before and after their involvment.

The Artist is Irina Linuza. Found her on upwork, and was very happy with her way of working from the start: https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~01678d123d582fc42e... That was more expensive, since the illustrations are so detailed. Simpler ones would have been cheaper, of course, but that's not what I wanted.


Can you give us a quick overview of what's unique about Ramit Sethi's email marketing?

I also found this blog post for anyone else whose interest was piqued: https://growthlab.com/guides/ultimate-guide-to-email-copywri...


Wow. Books on writing copy? Either that’s what I’ve been missing, or it’s another rabbit hole that leads nowhere but self-congratulatory learning (no sarcasm intended).

I feel like I hit a wall writing thinks as they’re either technically accurate but incomprehensible, or they’re too doughy and carry too little meaning.

I feel like there is something I just don’t understand about this business, and everyone else just says, “start”.


>Honestly, writing the manuscript is the easy part. Building an audience, marketing it, keeping the book up-to-date is just as hard as the original manuscript. But it can really pay off.

That is a big part of the value proposition of going through a publisher; Marketing is a big job... getting your book through to the various distribution channels is a big job. Personally, I'm okay giving up most of the monetary profit to have written a book that gets read and gets me recognition without having to do all that marketing work.


I'm ready to share this now: our book on Angular 2 did $400k a revenue, per year, the first two years. BUT the reason this was possible was we had a huge audience that trusted us.

Helpful insights.

What are the major factors you credit with getting the large audience?

How large is "large"?


Just guessing based on rough numbers:

$400,000 / $20 = 20,000 purchasers at that $20 price point (which is probably low for the books I see around in the space). If you guess a conversion rate of 2-4%[0] you’re talking 500k - 1mm people. Obviously those numbers shift down with purchase price normalizing to what feels more standard in the tech space ($30-$40).

[0]: https://chrismcmullen.com/2017/11/03/book-marketing-by-the-n...


This is why being able to write great email sales copy has an outsized effect on your success as an independent author. Think about how long it takes (and how many blog posts!) to add 500,000 email subscribers, even if you already have that many. That's the difference between 2% and 4%. Imagine you already have those million email subscribers and you can increase your conversions from 4% to 5% with a price increase from $20 to $25.

That's going to be much more effective to the bottom line of your business[0] than the best Facebook ad or marginally better SEO.

[0] Let's be honest if you're making half a million dollars with book releases, it's a business.


That's phenomenal! I agree that building an audience is the hardest part and it's what traditional publishers bring to the table for most people. Just last week I saw someone self-publish some artwork in an area they have an audience and they made $4000 in a day. The only marketing they did was a single tweet. I don't think most individuals would be able to gain this level of authority without years of work and spending lots of money traveling to and speaking at conferences and writing blog posts or publishing videos.


> Just last week I saw someone self-publish some artwork in an area they have an audience and they made $4000 in a day.

Link? I've been wondering about the current economics of (new) art lately.


That must be Julia Evans, she's awesome! https://twitter.com/b0rk


Have you done any fiction? Or exclusively technical books?


I don't approve of the "full stack" mindset, or the term. I gave it the benefit of the doubt but I am past that point now.

The idea is that full stack engineers implement features "vertically" by maintaining various parts of a "stack" at the same time.

Sounds good, but often the result is bad. A web frontend is very resilient, whereas backends are the complete opposite. If you apply the same mindset on both it better be a backend mindset:

- what happens if you leak memory in a web page? well, eventually the user will navigate away, and all resources would be freed, making everything fine. You do it on a server? your server will eventually collapse.

- What happens if you don't handle an exception on a webpage? Not a lot. But on a server? many things can happen... you can crash a server process, leak memory, etc.

- Security is similar. Browsers have restrictive defaults whereas servers don't. And the list goes on and on.

This is why "full stack" to me is a red-flag. Full stack to me equates "competent at front end, has some knowledge about servers but requires supervision".


> A web frontend is very resilient, whereas backends are the complete opposite. If you apply the same mindset on both

Even if I accept your premise (which I don't), nobody is suggesting you apply the same mindset to two different things. I consider myself a full stack developer, but if I had to pick one it would be back end as that's where I started, where my strengths lie, and if I never wrote another line of JavaScript in my life I'd be pretty happy overall. But your characterization of full stack devs does not match up to my reality.


I salute your approach to engineering but that's certainly not how employers view it.

I am not saying that frontend engineering is trivial. It clearly has many overlapping and non-overlapping requirements. But they non-overlapping part is large enough to require dedication and specialization.

DevOps and DBAs overlap with backend but it would be weird for a backend engineers to call themselves devops engineers or database administrators because of that. The latter suggest specialization.




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