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Ask HN: Has anyone here self-published a book? Any advice?
137 points by desouzt on July 16, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments
Hi there,

I am close to finishing my book and keen to get it published. I figured it would be easier to self publish (could be a wrong assertion), and wondered if anyone had any advice? Have you done it before? Anything to avoid? Anything I should definitely do? Any good sites to promote it on?

N.B. The book isn't a technical book. It is a comedy book set out in the style of a blog.


I've self published two books now ("Double Your Freelancing Rate" and "Sell Yourself Online: The Blueprint") Together they've netted me a little over $100k in revenue.

1) Don't write in a vacuum. Build an audience of people who want to buy (double points if you presell to them), and deliver value to them once a week in the form of takeaways from chapters you've just written, thoughts you have on the subject, etc.

2) "It's a comedy book" means you're likely selling to consumers, and it's pretty hard to explain the value (e.g. why someone should pay you for your book) when you're selling to a consumer.

3) Don't promote the book, promote blog posts that reinforce what you're writing that end with a call-to-action to join a mailing list.

4) I'd usually say setup multiple packages, but again, I'm not sure if that'd work for a consumer product.

This is really useful advice, thanks. So the book is actually based on a blog that I write and a sitcom that I've had produced (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Eu6Ef...) and so I've built a small audience, but a passionate one, and have captured mails of people who want to buy the book. Currently that is sitting at around ~750 people.

I'll look to get on the mailing hunt more and do some of the things you suggest above. Thanks!

That kind of audience is a great starting point for a Kickstarter if you're looking to raise funds. I'm currently in the process of self-publishing a technical book. My Kickstarter is wrapping up soon, and it's done really well [1].

[1] http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1223051718/practical-fla...

There is a big difference between saying you will buy something and actually buying it. Just a sliver of your overall fanbase will convert into paying customers, unless you've acquired them through something crazy awesome method.

I have a couple of questions or I say, requests:

1- Please share your journey/methods 2- As a programmers how I could write ebooks on different technical topics. Will people buy books on programming languages or related things?

Along the lines of building an audience pre-publishing, the second edition of nickd's book about interaction design, Cadence & Slang, is currently on Kickstarter[1]. (I'm a backer)

In this case, he's used kickstarter to be transparent about costs and process. He can also offer preview content pre-release to people who have put money down to prove their interest.

[1] http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nickd/cadence-and-slang-...

How much work do you put in promotion compared to the writing of the books, if I may ask?

Once the book is done, it's done. But marketing is a long term effort. I've recorded dozens of podcasts and interviews, included call-to-actions in my newsletters, written guest posts, etc. But I'm consistently able to bring in a fairly good income off these two books alone, that when compounded with my SaaS revenue and workshop revenue keep the lights lit.

Any data about how much your readers have netted themselves?

I have a few hundred emails in GMail labeled "Success Stories" — but I have no idea what the total net benefit of my books have been... as that figure goes up each day as my readers bill more time :-)

Not data in itself or indeed proof of anything I guess, but I bought Brennan's book & immediately put my prices up (not double, but I'm working on it). So far so good though.

Wow! That is very inspiring!

Maybe I could ask you a few questions over email? :)

Yep, email's in profile.

I'm also about to publish my first book (about a guy called Elon Musk). Here are some links I've saved that were interesting to read:

Selling my e-book on Amazon (http://snook.ca/archives/writing/selling-ebook-on-amazon)

How you can make a million writing your own e-book (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2040044/Kind...)

How to Write and Promote New York Times Bestsellers: Tim Ferriss and Jack Canfield (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/09/01/how-to-write...)

How to (Really) Make $1,000,000 Selling E-Books – Real-World Case Studies (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2013/04/04/how-to-make-...)

How I Used Hacker News to Sell My eBook (http://rubysnippets.com/2013/04/26/how-i-used-hacker-news-to...)

An eBook pricing model that resulted in $100,000 in sales (http://blog.asmartbear.com/selling-ebook.html)

5 rules to sell thousands of copies of your ebook (http://mir.aculo.us/2012/10/20/5-rules-to-sell-thousands-of-...)

My friend Duncan McGeary is writing again.

His timeline is.

- Hermit, single guy, writes and gets three books published in the 80s

- He Marries

- Purchases a pop culture / comic book / store of awesomeness

- Can't keep writing and keep up his business and his family, so he quits writing

- The business expands (Sports Card Bubble, Pog Bubble, some other bubbles) opening 3 other locations

- The business contracts (bubbles pop)

- Focues on making one location super solid

- Gets his business dialed in

- Finally pays off all his debt, store is doing really well

- Works two days a week at the store, hires solid employees

- Devotes other remaing days to writing books

- Has been publishing ebooks

- Has tried to go the traditional publishing route

Take aways

- The dude has been around the block

- He writes at least one blog post a day (he has been doing this for 5+ years)

- He shares A LOT about what he is doing (store front business, book writing strategy, business strategy)

- He has hired artists

- He has hired an editor

The one warning I'll give, is a lot of the time his blog is him processing. You really are reading the guy's journal. So it may feel he repeats himself. I personally enjoy existing in the guy's head. It is a different type of blog. One where you eventually see him work stuff out and you almost get that "AHAH!" moment with him.

I really respect Duncan. I'd tell anyone interested in either business or writing to follow the guy.

http://pegasus-dunc.blogspot.com/ https://twitter.com/PegasusBooks http://amzn.to/149vsQG

<shameless plug> I actually just announced the launch date for my self-published ebook this morning: http://www.petekeen.net/announcing-mastering-modern-payments... </plug>

I've been working on it for a few months after reading Nathan Barry's excellent book Authority. Based on that I started a mailing list right away and have collected a few hundred email addresses that I can market to.

I can't say I have any concrete advice (bdunn's advice sounds great, though). Best of luck to you!

I second the recommendation for Nathan Barry's book Authority.

Guy Kawasaki just published a book on self publishing called APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur): How to Publish a Book (http://apethebook.com/).

Awesome, thanks! Will buy this and have a read!

We haven't done it yet but are in the midst of the process. We talked with Kevin Gao who sold more than $100,000 of his ebook in a single year and is now running HyperInk (a publishing company you might want to look at). We shared what we learned from Kevin here -> http://www.kickpreneur.com/what-kevin-gao-taught-us-about-pu...

Hope you find something helpful there.

This is really useful, thanks very much!

A subquestion, if I may: Anyone know a good way of finding designers for the cover? Preferably designers who've done some work in publishing before, since what makes a good book / ebook cover is not the same as what makes a good website design.

I used bookdesigners.com and was totally thrilled with them. I used to be a graphic designer, and discovered what you mentioned: good web design is not the same as good book cover design. They were pricey: $1500, but I figured an excellent cover was the best place to put marketing $$. I haven't made that money back in sales yet, but I still think I got good value for what I paid.

This was a problem for me also. I decided to use unrelated pictures (i.e., unrelated to the topic of my books) that I have taken near where I live (Sedona Arizona - a beautiful place).

I have a friend who is a visual designer, and he has commented favorably on my approach.

If you're willing to spend $300, I've done all my covers through 99designs.com and been very happy.

Elance has some good designers.

I self-published a book on Regular Expressions...it's free, but people have donated a few hundred dollars to me:


I used the Leanpub platform, which is more targeted toward technical writers, though it provides a great number of conveniences if you're writing something that is published in piecemeal.

I think the general advice is...get known. If you are self publishing, then you are on your own in terms of promotion. Put together a list of bloggers/sites who might be interested in reviewing your work and send it out. Create your own micro-site devoted to the book and publish excerpts that you think might stand on their own and generate interest.

Self-publishing is only easier in the sense that it is easy to put something out there. It doesn't make it any easier to get discovered or be successful

I've also published a book with Leanpub (https://leanpub.com/learn-python/) and would definitely recommend them 100%. There is, essentially, zero downside in going with them, as they only get 10% of what you make, provide an excellent platform, and don't mind if you publish anywhere and everywhere else.

I particularly like the fact that you can publish a single chapter of the book, people can buy it, and you can keep writing it and improving it (with feedback) and people will continue receiving updates for ever. I just love it.

My advice would be, get on Leanpub now (or, well, two months ago), let a few people discover and give you feedback on the book, see what works and what doesn't, and then publish the final thing somewhere else, if Leanpub isn't working for you, using the feedback you've gotten.

Also, everyone else's advice sounds sane too.

Hey, co-founder of Leanpub here. There is lots of great advice in this thread, and the comments about Leanpub have made my day. I just wanted to say that you should feel free to shoot us an email at hello@leanpub.com if you have any questions.

Good luck, whichever route you choose.

I published 4 books. First I used chapbooks.com, which no longer exists. After that I tried lulu.com and the problem was the distribution. They don't have a good deal to distribution worldwide and part of my audience was in other countries other than US. I then switched to using createspace from Amazon. The process was a lot easier and smoother with Amazon and the distribution is better there too. I started with the print on demand version and it was very easy to make the ebook version. The books are available on Amazon site and can be sold worldwide.

Do you happen to know if createspace have good distribution through Ingram (who own Barnes and Noble)? Or through independent booksellers? Or are they mainly through Amazon?

Could you elaborate on the problems with distribution at Lulu?

Lulu printing is very affordable and the shipping for a medium sized book is 5$ in US, 6$ in Canada. Outside of North America they charge for 10+ shipping if I am not mistaken...

have you looked at http://leanpub.com ? It is a great platform to self publish.

Thanks, I haven't heard of Leanpub. Will take a look. Thanks again.

I started self-publishing how-to guides last year and created a company around it. I started with a single title (Dropbox In 30 Minutes) that I wrote in about 10 days and released through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program and as a PDF. It was a low-cost, lean, DIY approach. I had friends proofread it and created a simple product website using a modified Blogger template. I even did the cover myself. I just wanted to see if the topic and the concept resonated with readers. It did, so I began to optimize -- I hired a professional graphic artist to redo the cover (1), distributed the ebook to other platforms (iBookstore, Kobo, and the precursor to Nook Press), built out a better website on WordPress, and even created a paperback version through the CreateSpace print-on-demand service. I also started writing new titles, and eventually, contracted with other writers. There are now eight "In 30 Minutes" guides, and I am expanding into areas outside of software. You can see the current catalog here (2).

My advice to anyone else considering self-publishing:

* Start with Amazon KDP and CreateSpace. Both services are easy and fast. It's the quickest way to test an idea.

* Be prepared to iterate quickly based on reader feedback.

* Consider paying $100 or $200 for a decent cover. You can find designers lurking around the online writing communities (such as kboards.com for fiction) or hire someone on oDesk. Make sure they have experience designing book covers, which will save time and frustration.

* Have someone proof your manuscript. I see lots of writers who skip this step, and suffer in the ratings and reviews as a result.

* Have a cover blurb and Amazon description that grabs people. Also, make sure that readers can easily find out about you, either through the product listing page (which Amazon grabs from Amazon Author Central) or your own product website.

* If you want to use other platforms, Apple's iBookstore seems most promising. It's hard to set up, though. "iTunes Producer" is a very rough piece of software. However, if you've worked on iOS apps in the past at least you will be familiar with iTunes Connect, which is used to set pricing and monitor sales.

* I have sold many PDFs, but I am not sure how that would work for fiction. I started with e-junkie but switched to Gumroad (3) which has a much better interface.

Marketing is tough. One thing you can do once you have a print version through CreateSpace or another service, join Goodreads (a social network for people who love to read) and set up a Goodreads Giveaway (4) (a contest for your book that Goodreads runs -- usually a few hundred people sign up, and you have to send out 10 or 20 copies to winners that GR selects). It's free to set up, but you'll have to purchase and send out copies of the book to the winners of the giveaway. The advantages of this: Readers often write reviews, which are seen by other GR members. Many other people will put the book on their "to-read" list, and some will go out and buy the book right away because they don't want to wait to see if they won a copy.

Good luck!

1. http://www.digitalmediamachine.com/2012/09/do-people-judge-e...

2. http://in30minutes.com/

3. https://gumroad.com/

4. http://goodreads.com/giveaway

I'd like to add PulleyApp (http://pulleyapp.com/) for digital delivery.

As someone who is writing a book, that is hugely inspiring! Thanks!

Btw, does Gumroad support Bitcoins?

I have never seen any reference to bitcoins in their support pages. But their payment forms and customization options are excellent.

Hmm. There is self-publishing and then there is not publishing with a legacy publisher. I recommend the later -- every writer needs a little help.

So technical stuff out of the way: * don't use MSWord (probably obvious), but it is way easier if you write in UTF8 with basic mark-up for italics. Markdown is great. * create an epub and then think about Kindle. You want to be everywhere. You need both formats so (Amazon is your primary target market) but it's easier on everybody if Kindle formatting comes second. * eReader specs are all over the map -- it's like a throw back to the browser incompatibilities from 10 years ago -- so clean mark-up is vital. If you want your book to look good on as many devices as possible, don't use a conversion meatgrinder (like calibre) to create files. Do look carefully at lean pub.com or pressbooks.com, especially if you don't need your hand held in this area. * you will need to buy an ISBN, either directly or through a third party

Editing * you need an editor -- your wife, your neighbour, a freelancer -- somebody needs to edit your work. Don't be fooled otherwise, even if you write a blogpost a day and have for the last two years. Good editors will catch problems with tone, spot areas that are confusing, and generally shape the work. This is especially important because writing down complex thoughts is hard. A lot of people think they have a book in them, when really they just a magazine-length article or a blog post or an idea for a tumblr. A good editor will call BS on your ambitions. * proofreading is not editing. Have someone that isn't you or your editor look over your work before you publish

Selling and Marketing * If you are going to spend any money what so ever on your project, spend it on the cover. Self-publishing is plagued by terrible covers and even pro designers trip up when they try to approach ebook images. Do yourself a favour and hire a real book designer. If you can't afford it upfront, publish first and then redesign the cover later. * You want to be on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes, and (maybe) Google Play. You can take this upon yourself or get help from a service like SmashWords or Bookbaby.com * And of course sell on your own site and through your own newsletters using shopify or the like. * Again, it should be obvious your book is not going to sell itself.

All that said, the hardest thing is the writing so get to it.

I've published 11 books, and that's actually how I make my living these days. My older books are on entrepreneurship and related topics, while my later work is narrative nonfiction (travel-based tales from my lifestyle on the road) and, more recently, speculative science fiction.

I've played in the completely self-controlled arena and more mainstream platforms (Amazon, Kobo, etc), and am happy to answer any questions you might have :)

Broad advice: Think very carefully about what you hope to achieve with your book. If you want to build a brand/platform/business/audience long-term, put out some free work to start, and show people what you're capable of. If you're looking to make a living from this book, publish some smaller works (blogs or short ebooks) first, to give people that sample, and build up a small list.

Treat your readers with respect, but don't take all advice given (filter!). Don't over-advertise. Do your best to incentivize sharing of your message and work without straying into over-marketing territory.

Recognize that you'll make a lot more money publishing yourself (through something like Gumroad or e-junkie), but you can get more organic traffic through a platform like Amazon (and there are MANY pros and cons to both paths). Also recognize that you can play in both arenas: use Amazon to gain new readers, and have other work available outside their ecosystem.

Remember, too, that there are still things that Big Six publishers (and their smaller, traditional publishing counterparts) do really well, and ideally indie authors don't see the publishing world as 'us' and 'them' — just two sides of the same coin. You can build up a library of work that you indie publish, and then seek a traditional contract and have more control over the process (having an existing audience to leverage), and the negotiations (they provide prestige that can get you in places that are otherwise difficult to get your book, like airport bookstores, and PR materials that can help you get on talk shows and such — some people still won't consider you a pro author until you've got a Penguin or HarperCollins logo on the spine of something you've written).

(Also: Consider the phrase 'indie published' over 'self published,' as the latter tends to imply the equivalent of a garage band, while the former implies something more akin to indie films or indie music — personal preference, but something to note when you're telling people how your book is published).

Again, happy to expand on any of this if you want to reply here, or shoot me an email — colin at exilelifestyle dot com

Best of luck whichever path you end up taking!

What would you consider a small list to be, 1000, 5000?

You can start making moves at even 100, so long as the people on the list are into you and what you're doing (rather than fly-by-night joiners, or people bribed into joining your list).

But 500 is great (with that same kind of audience), and by the time you get up to a few thousand really engaged, interested readers, you're set. You may not make a livable wage right away, but you'll be making SOMETHING, and from there all you have to do is keep doing good work and publishing it (and as you build a back catalog, each new release can lead to a big boost in sales of your past work, as well).

I've self-published a book about Open Sound Control: http://osc.justthebestparts.com/

It's meant to be something of an adjunct to some other in-the-works books. These other books (one about hacking the XBox Kinect, the other about the Leap Motion) make use of OSC, and I didn't want them to become bloated or sidelined by an explanation of OSC, especially for people who may not need it.

One of my goals is to keep the books short, on-topic, and to the point (hence "just the best parts").

Some advice: Know the limitations of your publishing formats. I started out writing the book on the Web, only to learn that HTML that works nicely in a full-size browser can end up as crap when rendered for epub.

Yesterday I did a giveaway of my book because it was my birthday. I think that did more to get attention for the book than anything else. (I'm leaving the free download in place for a few hours more if folks here want to grab it.)

People often say you need to promote the book with blog posts and stuff. I agree, but what it means is you are, in a way, now writing two books (or something). There's not just the work to create the book, there's the work to create the material to promote the book.

I've made the book available online as well, but even then it's hard to get attention. I've started doing some screencasts of some of my OSC software.

Bottom line is I tend to write because I enjoy it and I want to make certain information available to people. I want to see more artists get comfortable with technology. Ideally, though, I can manage some decent return on my time so I can continue doing it.

Self-published a book in April, which is now selling in Paperback and Kindle versions (http://www.amazon.com/Berkshire-Hathaway-Letters-Shareholder...). It's been doing pretty well although there was a built-in audience and it's not too difficult to market a book when the author is Warren Buffett.

I did a printing of the book and am selling the physical version on Amazon Advantage. Advantage takes a 55% cut of the List Price, and handles all shipping, ordering, etc. I just have to send them inventory when needed.

The program works, but so far in my experience it's a huge pain in the ass. They send out Purchase Orders when they need more inventory and it's pretty unpredictable (an order could be 4 copies or 900, which means shipping really changes my COGS). They also "lost" a shipment of 800 books that took them a month to find. So I wouldn't recommend Amazon Advantage unless there isn't another option.

It's a trade off. Publishers can give you marketing, proof-reading, cover design, book layout, etc. But you get paid much more per book if you self-publish and you have more control over the final product, price, marketing strategy, etc.

It's relatively straightforward to get freelance proof-reading and cover design. You could use something like LaTeX to layout the book and if the market you are targeting is relatively niche then you can market it at least as effectively as a publisher, by using a blog / website.

How much hassle do you want? How much money do you want? Is there a publisher who wants to publish your book? Do you have a ready made market?

I've self-published a book on a niche topic. I used Lightning Source, a print on demand company. They expect you to give them everything print-ready. Some print on demand companies like CreateSpace will hold your hand a bit more.

Personally, I enjoyed learning all the things that were needed to get my book into print. It's also nice to make much more per book (~70% or the cover price rather than ~10%).

I'm self-publishing two in-progress JavaScript books with Leanpub, and have had a fantastic experience so far.

They basically share a Dropbox folder with you and let you edit your book in Markdown. For me this means that I'm easily able to work with my normal text editing tools rather than learning something completely new. When I want to publish/preview a new version, I just log into their site and hit the appropriate button, which will autogenerate the PDF, epub and mobi files, putting them in the shared Dropbox folder.

The other nice thing about them is that they will let you start selling your book while it is still in progress, so you can get feedback from real customers about what they would like to see in the book.

A Drip of JavaScript: https://leanpub.com/a-drip-of-javascript-book

Jasmine Testing: A Cloak & Dagger Guide: https://leanpub.com/jasmine-testing

I wrote a comedy book in the style of a blog. Let me know if you have any questions. http://www.amazon.com/First-World-Problems-Terrorists-ebook/...

Things I've learned: - The cover is very important. Don't design it yourself. When thinking about the book design, make sure it looks good small. Half of the time your cover will be seen as a thumbnail online. - Pay someone trustworthy to edit your book. I paid a guy on Craigslist as first and got what I paid for... - Submitting to the Kindle store and paperback through Createspace is fairly easy. - The program Scrivener is amazing. Besides being a great writing tool, it outputs to the Kindle format (as well as every other format).

I wrote out the step by step process here: http://bennesvig.com/how-i-wrote-a-book-step-by-step/

Publicity and visibility will be your biggest challenge. There's a reason Charles Dickens was on an American reading tour in 1867-1868: visibility and publicity.

Here's an example of a graphic novel self published, initial print run crowd funded. A Possibly useful example.

Jason Brubaker developed a following for years by blog, showing the actual pages and process for creating his intended book. Then he took his community to kickstarter to fund the initial print run, and initial orders too, and initial publicity beyond his blog (aside from guest posts at other comic author blogs). He's done a second one book the same way, too.

The book: reMind

His fundraising story: "Grassroots Funding with Kickstarter.com" http://www.remindblog.com/2010/10/14/grassroots-funding-with...

I published a book on Cheetah 3D (a nice 3d program for Mac OS X that conspicuously needs a manual). You can find out about it here http://loewald.com/c3dbook/

The main thing I learned is that if you need to sell your book for more than $10 (if it's aimed at a vertical market) split it into multiple $10 books or you'll be screwed by Amazon (which gives lower royalties for books between $10 and $20 than for $10 books). I ended up only selling my book through Apple and Lulu (and BN but that's useless).

Another problem is I've found most of the epub tools I've used to be fairly awful. Were I doing it over again I'd probably write the whole book in markdown and convert it to epub using scripts.

I published my first book a month ago. Fiction. E-book. So not unlike a vanity press of old. My book is a comedy as well. Well, sci-fi comedy adventure with some romantic elements. The Dread Space Pirate Richard. With most of the majors including http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DIAYCLW/

I'm so new to it don't feel I can give any authoritative advice. I have sold copies. I have not hit the lottery. But it's a great feeling of accomplishment. Feel free to ping me via the email addr in my HN profile.

My next book will be technical, on Software Performance and Scalability. Then switch back to a sequel to DSPR.

Thanks, I may well take you up on that! Good luck with your book..

I've self-published 2 editions of C++11 Rocks (for Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012): http://cpprocks.com

I wrote a post about some of the things I learned from it: http://korban.net/2013/04/10000-in-sales-of-my-c-book-easier...

Two things I can say (also discussed in the post above): I wouldn't go with a traditional publisher now (with the exception of Pragmatic Programmers), and marketing isn't as hard as I thought, but it's definitely a long term effort.

I used iuniverse. Their service is pretty good, although their support can be sucky and they tend to spam you a lot with newsletters (it's almost impossible to get off their mailing list unless you yell at them a few times). I think I'd still use them again.

Some advice:

- Spend a lot of effort on designing the cover, as you can't easily change it afterwards and it makes a big difference to whether or not people will buy your book.

- Proof read it thoroughly multiple times (and get someone else to proof read it as well if you're not 100% confident in your own spelling/grammar).

- Don't expect to sell many copies unless you do a bunch of marketing yourself.

Awesome, thanks so much!

Point 1 - I've got a great animator to design me the cover. You can see the animation from the link I posted above (around 2 mins in)

Point 2 - I have enlisted the help of a friend and my dad who are in the process of proof reading. Need to spend a lot of time on this like you have suggested.

Point 3 - I'm hoping I'll get lucky! I have around 750 people who seem to be interested in the book based on the blog, and sitcom, that it is about. Hoping if they buy it then they may recommend it. If not, it's cool to finally tick off a goal!

Spend a lot of effort on designing the cover

Did you hire someone for this? If so, who?

No, I did it myself and ever since I have been disappointed with the result. If I did it again I would definitely spend a lot more effort on this (or get someone to do it, although that isn't always easy to do).

someone to do it, although that isn't always easy to do

Exactly. I am getting ready to self-publish and am facing this problem. So far this group: http://bookcoverexpress.com/about-book-cover-express.html looks promising, but they don't list prices, which is seldom a good sign.

I have used publishers like Springer-Verlag, McGraw-Hill, J. Wiley, etc. in the past - a nice experience. I am now using leanpub.com and I am very happy with them. They take all the hassle out of writing.

I recently released the 4th edition of my Java AI book on leanpub.com https://leanpub.com/javaai and in a few weeks the 3rd edition of my "Loving Common Lisp. The Saavy Programmer's Secret Weapon" will be released.

Leanpub.com pays 90% royalties, minus a $0.50 handling charge so you might be pleasantly surprised how much money you can earn.

I'm founder of Sellfy and we have many ebook publishers on our platform - we see what works and what doesn't so I'm happy to share few tips if you are interested.

Here are few quick tips:

1) Build your audience beforehand (email, social) as it will power your sales once you launch your book.

2) Try to do guest blogs and get reviews from other bloggers on your book. Send them free copies etc.

3) Launching is easy but holding the revenue steady requires a lot of work so plan to spend some time post-launch to promote your book.

*) To optimize revenue think about several pricing options.

Feel free to contact me maris[at]sellfy for more info!

While we're on the subject, what are some good tools for receiving feedback, editing, and incorporating that feedback?

Draft (http://draftin.com) is pretty good for this, but not designed for larger scale projects like ebooks.

Leanpub is awesome for distributing early / unfinished copies and opening the doors for feedback, but as far as I know, does not have any built in tools for collecting and integrating feedback or edits (gramatical, writing structure, etc).

Any ideas?

I self-published a book and built a platform around the sourcing for it.


I answered a question on Quora about this general topic a while back.


* Get a copy editor

A copy editor will challenge your sentence structures, paragraphs, overall flow, and much more.

Compare what you wrote before the copy editor did their work, versus after - you'll see a big difference.

Note that copy editing is often an iterative process - so you'll work with the editor as you complete your revisions.

Yet in the end it is your book, so you don't have to follow the copy editor's suggestions if you think you're right/know your topic more than he or she does/etc.

A related question about making books freely available:

I'm currently writing a book about neural networks and deep learning. Ideally I'd like to make the book freely available online, with paid ebook and hard copy versions. But I'm uncertain about the impact a free online version will have on sales revenue. Anyone with much hard evidence? Or suggestions for how to make a reasonable amount of money, while keeping the book freely available?

Maybe instead of free online version you could try "pay what you want" approach? It takes the choice off the shoulders of your readers and increases the chance that the book will be actually read. Will it hurt the sales? I guess to the same extent that the online version (people can save the webpage as pdf anyway).

You could look at "Natural Language Processing with Python" for a case study of this - that book is available for free online but seems like people still buy it.

Gayle Laakman has a good post about self-publishing, and a lot of the hidden downsides, and why going the traditional route is often better (and more profitable).


If someone hasn't mentioned it yet: http://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords

I found it to be a great resource for finding information as well as people to do the cover and/or formatting of the eBook.

Yes I have one out... :)

I self published a book over a year ago. Happy to share all my sales data and let you know how I formatted it.

That's really kind, thanks. If you're able to give me any advice then that would be much appreciated! Can be reached at stevewhyley at yahoo dot com. Would be very interested to hear what tools you used to format it. Thanks!

Glenn Fleishman's latest The New Disruptors podcast episode interviews a guy who did just that. Should be very relevant to what you are looking for. http://www.muleradio.net/newdisruptors/31/

Will check it out, thanks.

Not personally, but heard this a few days ago: http://www.blubrry.com/theeconomist/1795098/kal-kal-kallaugh...

The only place a writer signs a check is on the back...

Use this to avoid scams:


Best of luck!

You could try using PapyrusEditor (http://papyruseditor.com )

PS: I created this tool, let me know if you need any help.

Since this forum is about hackers and developers, do developers buy ebooks related to programming or other technologies? Any tips or stats available?

Try out netminds: http://netminds.com/

You can get some feedback on authonomy as well. It's free.

Yeah, go up to Link #4 on the front page.

Make sure you have a kick-ass cover.

Congrats and good luck with sales!

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