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$26,679 in 24 hours: Stats from my latest book launch (nathanbarry.com)
110 points by richaclark 1607 days ago | hide | past | web | 57 comments | favorite

I'm fascinated with and profoundly envious of people who can accrue huge sums of money in such short periods of time.

Given that this was all done within 24 hours, it's unlikely that many sales came from the quality of the book: people won't have had time to read the book, and so word-of-mouth-based sales will be negligible if not nonexistent.

In the first few days of sales, most every transaction is derived from presentation, notoriety, or luck...

I haven't read the book (and I couldn't afford it even if I had a desire to do so), and it may be a fine product. However, Nathan could have easily published a piece of abject trash, full of platitudes and banal tautology, and done perhaps just as well. Quality has no bearing on the initial success of a product, and only comes into play later. It just goes to show how much gravity factors like marketing have on sales.

I'm fascinated with and profoundly envious of people who can accrue huge sums of money in such short periods of time.

1. 26k is not a huge amount of money.

2. He didn't make the money in 24 hours. There was a lot of work involved in the writing and making of the book.

1. Over 25% of households in the country live on less than 26k/year. You have obviously succumbed to some sort of upper-class myopia. Not everyone is rich. 26k is quite a bit of money.


Even if that weren't true, it's still an inordinately large amount of money to earn in a single day. When is the last time you made 26k in a day?

2. The amount of time spent making the product has nothing to do with the amount of time in which the sales were made. What you're saying is just incoherent. Within a 24 hour period, he earned 26k. The assertion that the time put into making the product also qualifies as time over which he earned money just isn't logical.

He made a lot of money in a short time based on notoriety and marketing. What is so hard to accept about that?

Without knowing how many hours Nathan spent on the book, it's hard to say if 26k is a lot of money or not.

I think it's pretty good, but it's not like Nathan is earning 26k a day every day, it's basically just once or twice a year.

And if you spent several months building up a following, writing a blog, getting people to sign up to a mailing list, not to mention releasing another eBook first, you too could "make a lot of money in a short time based on notoriety and marketing"…

On your second point, that is like saying that the 3 years and 80 million dollars spent developing a game should be ignored because it made 90 million in the first 24 hours.

If I may take artistic license to reinterpret the comment, what I get from the comment is that given the very short term nature of the sales, no one really had time to read the content and then publicize their opinions to yield this sales curve. Basically, there is no word-of-mouth or social proof effect evident in this sales curve. Indeed, we see the opposite - more people bought the book before others subsequently purchased it. Sales were due to pent up demand versus waiting for others to verify quality or value.

Basically, the moment it was offered for sale, the product was purchased practically sight unseen (altho the article mentions that he in effect pre-released portions of the text to his newsletter subscribers).

Given this, the book could have been low quality and it wouldn't have impacted this sales curve. In which case, the OP could have spent 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, or 5 months writing the book and the sales curve would look similar.

What I gleaned from this article was not that it took substantial effort to write a book to evoke this sort of sales curve, but rather there was a process of building expectation and an audience which would result in substantial sales for a book, regardless of its level of quality. The level of quality became assumed and did not require prior evidence. Thus, labor / effort in writing was not proportional to sales.

Yes, it should be ignored. That's my point. I'm saying that investment and shouldn't be taken into account when gauging first-day success, because that quality and time-investment don't factor into first-day success. No one knows how long it took him to produce the book, so no one buys on quality initially. My whole point is that his success was based on marketing, not quality.

I think the parent was completely ignoring your line of argument and making an orthogonal point, that the headline "$26,679 in 24 hours" upon which this article is sold is a lie insofar as it's useless to think of that as being a duplicable event: you couldn't write and publish a book every 24 hours, so the income should actually be amortized over the time it took the book to be produced. (Assuming six months, the ROI-so-far has been $4k/mo--not bad, but pretty equivalent to having worked as a programmer for that period.)

I started the book September 6th and released it December 12th. So it took 3 months from start to finish. Sales are now over $40,000 for the last couple weeks, so if we average it out that is at least $13,000 a month for the time created. Plus sales will continue for months to come.

Even if one extrapolates earning out over the time-to-produce, it's still quite a sum of money.

The actual time vs. value comparison is irrelevant, though. Regardless of the time and effort it took to make, the 26k figure is pretty remarkable. We would not be having this discussion if he had made 1k-2k each day over the course of the past few weeks.

Moreover, the true quality of and time invested in the book doesn't change the fact that those who bought in the first day likely did so out of ignorance and without knowledge of the quality.

Given the amount of work put in, is it a truly huge payday for Nathan? Not really. Is it still a massive one-day sale figure? Yes.

1. You missed point 1. It's not about making 26K/day, but it's about 26K not being a huge amount of money.

Tell you what, I live in Tunisia, and still $26K is not huge or even big by any measures

2. Within a 24 hour period, he earned 26k.

Not true, if he were to do it again, he'll need to write another book; and that can't be done in 24 hours. But again, tell you what, I'll accept that argument.

He made a lot of money in a short time based on notoriety and marketing.

He has a brand. No one is born with a brand. You make the brand. The brand is a capital, just like a car or something of value you have. You can't make a brand in 24 hours, far from it.

I guess that's true, but it is really important to build a reputation for quality work. Also this was my second book, so I had people buy off of the quality from my previous book.

Was your first book anywhere near as successful in the first 24 hours as this one?

If you read the post you can see the number comparison (further down the page). Or you can read my summary of the first launch here: http://nathanbarry.com/learned-selling-6000-ebook-today/

I sold about $12,000 in the first 24 hours for my first book.

If anything, the first book is a better indicator of pure marketing-based success, considering that you didn't have a following at that point.

For the record, I'm not asserting that it's bad that you made so much money based on theses factors. I don't expect you not to market you products. If anything, I was commenting on the importance of marketing to initial success.

About how many people were on your email list when you released the first one?


I finished v1 of my ebook from a post that did really well on HN: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3837264 I have been really looking into distribution of the eBook and this is such a timely post for me.

Did you think about publishing the book on amazon / other eBook sites? Did you ever think about making this into a real book or using kickstarter to get funding?

Thanks for this post. Seriously Awesome.

There are three reasons I sold exclusively through my own site:

- Stores like Amazon and iBooks limit the price you can charge. iBooks limits it to $15 for the book, Amazon radically changes the royalty payments if you go above $10 (or so). I want to charge premium prices, so those audiences wouldn't work.

- Selling through another provider means that they aren't my customers. I don't have contact information for follow-ups, other sales offers, or anything else. Owning the customer list is really important to building a sustainable business.

- When I sell through my own site I keep about 95% from every sale. If I sold through the iBooks store I would only get 70%. I would be willing to accept a lower percentage if it meant I was able to build my customer lists.

A final thought is that I've seen people put all their effort into creating the product (whether it is an app or an eBook) then put it up on the store, just expecting it to take off and organically get sales. By selling through my own site I was forced to do all the marketing and promotion myself. Since that is a skill I am still developing, it was important to me.

Good luck!

great, thank you.

By the way, I love the post! Excited to hear more about the book. Email me, nathan@thinklegend.com, if you have more questions.

Nathan, if you see this, have you thought about using AdWords to promote your books instead of using an affiliate network? I think it might be interesting to see if the CPA with AdWords or other online ads can be optimized to the point where it is cheaper than the CPA with affiliates.

I think Adwords and other paid traffic would be more effective driving traffic to an email capture squeeze page that delivered a series of free reports over a few weeks.

The final few emails would then try to sell the book. IMO it's too hard to sell this sort of product to an audience that has never heard of you.

Yes, absolutely. I can't believe I overlooked this. Especially if I had other related products to cross sell down the road.

Right now it is just a matter of figuring out where to spend my time.

Check out Influads.com - very targeted display advertising for your target audience. CPM's are slightly high though. If you can pull a .5% ctr you would probably end up paying ~$1 click (note: I WOULD not try CPM media buys BEFORE making sure it converts with CPC first).

Shoot for an optin rate ~45.1% at least (if this is hard straight out the box, just have 1 data field, i.e. email address not name+email address)

Profit hack: consider a funnel like this:

squeeze page-->immediate redirect = sales page-->sales page thank you has something like PayWithATweet.com on it...offer a bonus for a social share.

Good luck!

Thanks for the response, Brennan! That's an interesting insight!

When I worked out the value of each visitor (on average) I thought about using AdWords. I really don't know much about it, so it will be a new area to pursue.

Unfortunately selling with Gumroad I can't track conversions effectively, so that may make page optimization more difficult.

I'll give it a try soon and report back the results (on my blog).

Hey Nathan, I'm working on my AdWords eBook called "Your first three months on AdWords" right now (this post was quite timely!!)

Would be happy to share it with you for free in return for an endorsement if you find it helpful.

My email is iain@workingsoftware.com.au if you're interested!

Gumroad doesn't give you meaningful metrics? Can someone recommend a competitor that does?

Gumroad gives awesome metrics and stats, they even track the source of each sale. The downside for me is that almost every sale is through my site, so the referrer is always the same (nathanbarry.com).

Since the entire purchase happens in a secure iFrame I have no way of knowing on my site when the transaction completes. So I can't use Visual Website Optimizer or Google Analytics to track the conversion.

I hear they are working on this... Otherwise they are wonderful.

They don't allow you to pass through a custom id with each customer? That way you can record the referrer and customers actions on the site and tie it back to the sale, if they allow it.

Guess no one really cared about Facebook, etc. logo usage.

great post. You are obviously a good copy writer. Perhaps you should consider doing your next book on that subject.

Thanks, but I'm just getting started on learning copywriting. Maybe in a year or two. For now check out CopyHackers: http://copyhackers.com

Nathan: i think you should run that discounted sale again because i was one of the person who missed to buy it even though i had subscribed to email alerts (because i was hospitalized). Wouldn't buy it for $250 so im still waiting for another round of discounted sale and expecting an email obviously.

Congrats Nathan! Has anyone gone through the material completely and can comment on the quality and utility of the book? I'm considering purchasing (I'm a developer with no design skills) and was wondering how hopefully this will be to me.

Yes, a few people. One said "The book paid for itself in the first 10 pages." Still working on getting a few more reviews live that I can link to.

Thanks for posting the link to this. I'm happy to answer any questions.

I have a few questions:

1. Did you have to 'kick back' any money? To those that you interviewed, or companies where you used their screenshots in your examples/critiques? Did you reach out to them and notifying them that they/their company will be in your book for profit?

2. From the sample chapter, you talk a lot about principles and critiques of interface design but are there any area in the book where there are data or user ability studies to explain it further (ie: why they work)? Or is most of it based on experience?

3. Any plans for a sample page on the case study? I think that's where the most value is - the full process of where you take us through your thoughts and reasoning on designing a product.

1. No, I didn't. Everyone was very gracious and there was never an expectation for money. For some people like patio11 and Jason Fried my book sales would not represent a meaningful amount of money. It's better to not even bring it up. Many of the people I interviewed have become friends and I try to help them in any way possible.

For companies I didn't contact them in most cases. The few I did talk to were thrilled their designs were being used as an example in a book.

2. This book is light on data and studies. That's a short coming. These are all techniques that I know work well, but I don't always have a study to back it up.

3. I'm not sure what you mean about a sample page for the case study. To better market it? That case study has a lot of great content and I'll be working with the company further to write a lot more articles and tutorials around what we all learned in that process.

Thanks for the answers. Copyright use of images, especially screenshots, had always been a confusion point for me.

For the case study, basically I'd like to know what it entails before purchasing. All the other content speak of principles and guidelines but I find it more interesting to read about an actual case study, the thoughts and reasoning behind the decisions made. (I can't find what the case study was about too - just that it's a time tracking service. Is it Harvest? Basecamp?)

You said you'll be working with the company further, I look forward to that one!

The company is called Tsheets (http://tsheets.com). Lots of great stuff coming from them in the next 6 months.

Maybe have a chat to Drew Wilson who is working on http://spacebox.io. It's a nifty little tool for collecting payments via Stripe.

I believe he's currently working on adding subscription payments (and hopefully invoicing) which I am very keen to get but affiliates/electronic delivery could be another great add-on for him to deliver.

Since you're here, how did you go about writing two books so close together?

The most important thing was my commitment to write 1,000 words a day. I am 160 days in. After that was having a short deadline. Since I made the december 12th launch date public I knew I had to hit it. So I compressed everything necessary into that short time.

More about that here: http://nathanbarry.com/commitment-changed-career/

I'm fascinated by your goal and the way you accomplished it. Aside from writing 1,000 words a day, there are so many other things that must have gone into your books and sites that I am left wondering how you found the motivation for it all.

Did you really make all of the graphics and layouts (perfectly I might add), create a book landing page, tweak your blog to promote the book, maintain your Twitter following, deal with miscellaneous tasks (server configurations, etc), conduct interviews, do the copyediting and review process, all while writing 1,000 words a day, in the same timespan?

Did you have a life? Did you ever take time to watch a TV show or switch off your computer or phone? Really inspiring stuff man, great work!

Having met Nathan in person, I assure you 1) he did it, and 2) I'm still not sure how.

The twitter handle on your book's site should really be a link. For better UX ;)

Glad to see another Idaho person on HN!

"to be successful, one must portray an image of being successful", good marketing strategy imo but yeah probably bogus lol

I just downloaded you full book for Free! You need better security on your WordPress website!

Curious how you got it. Send me an email: nathan@thinklegend.com

u made 26k so quick u better know!!

Bullshit. Fake it till you make it, huh?

Don't believe this bullcrap people. This person is lying to get covered by Hacker News and similar sites. I bet he didn't make $500 in total.

It's real. Though I'm not sure how to prove it to you in a way you would believe. Want to see a screenshot of my Gumroad account showing $75,000 in book sales? Oh wait, I've already included that in my posts.

What evidence do you have for that allegation? Regardless, your tone isn't even remotely constructive; you should back that off a bit.


You've to ask him for that, not me!

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