Thanks for the suggestion regarding pre-orders. At some point we'll probably add this. It would have to coincide with our also adding store credit, so that we can give refunds to purchases that are older than 45 days in store credit, etc. (Right now we have a 100% "happiness guarantee" where readers can get a refund with 2 clicks, but this only works for 60 days, so we set our refund policy to be 45 days.)
The Leanpub workflow is totally free to use, and we're making it better all the time.
Now, frankly, I'm a programming book author myself (I've written 3 programming books) and we have tons of programming books on Leanpub -- but I really wish we had a lot more romance and other "genre" books than we currently do. I even went to Brisbane to speak at GenreCon Australia (http://www.genrecon.com.au/) in 2013 to try to jump-start this, but frankly our usability wasn't there yet. We'll get there.
It's been a really pleasant experience so far, although my chosen topic feels a bit broad, as it encompasses everything from running a website to marketing, shipping, packaging, curation, customer service etc. and it feels difficult to really get too deep into any subject. And the reality is that running such a box by yourself is exactly about being a generalist in all of this stuff.
At this point I have about 60 pages written and am now commissioning a book cover on 99designs: https://en.99designs.jp/book-cover-design/contests/create-e-...
I'm plotting a way to A/B test these covers. Maybe do an ad campaign with 1/6 of traffic getting each cover and see how many email signups each one gets. My leanpub page is looking rather bare now without one: https://leanpub.com/subscription-box
Any plan for improving the search engine?
Maybe a subtitle would help? "Hello Web App: Making Your Own Django App" or something.
Fantasy has one entry, scifi has no entries and fiction has a total of three entries.
To support fiction properly, we need to add support for paying for instalments, so that you can buy a chapter at a time, etc. Serial fiction used to be a big deal in the 1860s, and it should be a bigger deal now because of the internet.
Also, we're working on a new version of our in-browser editor which will be more friendly for people who don't like writing in Markdown -- which probably includes many fiction authors...
That said, for me, this is just one more data point that you don't write a book to make money off of book sales. You do it to establish yourself as an authority and earn from that new position.
Its amazing how far back into basics I have to go when I start talking to other people about programming. Some of the most fun I've had was helping my brother through his "Intro to C" class. God I hate pointers...
So, that said - maybe it's not feeling like an authority, but more feeling like you have an alternate/interesting/different take on a subject.
Yeah I agree that other perks can outweigh the money; see also the comment below about marketing being one of the hardest parts about writing a book. Getting more known now will help future books I write (Nathan Barry is a good example).
I am reaping some rewards of having expenses covered to do workshops abroad. It's not a source of income, but it does make travel a lot more affordable which is great.
Ultimately, I hope that there will be some long-term passive income from the book (and possibly other books). We'll see. :)
There are times when you start learning something only to realise while there is a definite market for the approach taken by the tutorial site, you expectations were a bit different. There might be topics which the instructor thinks everyone programmer should know. And for a non-programmer it takes hours just to figure out what was the instructor talking about.
A couple of questions, if you don't mind.
How did you support yourself while writing the book? And if you were working another job, how did you find time?
Did you try any other marketing like giving away the first chapter or blogging/newsletters?
I've been toying with the idea of writing a book on programming AVR microcontrollers for a while, since most of the information online is horrifically fragmented. I'm tempted to go down the website route and then publish it separately as a cohesive ebook, but it looks like leanpub may be a good option if you can publish individual chapters as you write them.
I am lucky that I have no rent, so the income from WeddingLovely (when I was paying myself $20k/yr) as well as income from the Kickstarter (I raised $13k) helped a ton. As for time, that's one of the main reasons why it took me a year — I couldn't work on it full time.
> Did you try any other marketing like giving away the first chapter or blogging/newsletters?
I give away a sample to every subscriber to the email list, which includes the first four chapters, I believe. There has been mentions on podcasts and some newsletters, but nothing has matched the results from Product Hunt/Reddit yet. Still working on it.
What are your plans for keeping up book revenue moving forward?
Thanks for the sharing the numbers :)
The book comes with a template app — I call it a "collection of things", which should work with a lot of different unique ideas, like building a directory of django programmers, a store, etc.
And yes, the code is available on Github: http://github.com/hellowebapp
Where can I buy this book in India?
Fulfillment slowed me down a lot, especially since I released a paperback book rather than keeping it all digital (I really wanted to have something physical to take to events, plus designing an actual book is really fun.) I almost went with a local printer, as I wanted to support a local business... but their cost per book was ~$10, and going with a China-based printer (PrintNinja.com) dropped the book cost to $3.60 — I pretty much had no choice since I wanted to sell on Amazon (anything over $5 would kill my profit.) But being that it was printed in China, it added two months between submitting the print order to getting the books in hand, and I had a lot of people waiting for their books for about a year since the Kickstarter. It was really stressful, but at least now I know and can plan for this delay in the future.
Oh, and a shout-out to marketing, which this blog post obviously is. Of course I wish I could release the book and get revenue without effort, but that won't happen. Self-promotion is really hard, and I'm learning how to market my products better but it's really not that much fun and very stressful. Necessary though.
Indesign is very powerful, and ergo a little intimidating. For a newbie though, it shouldn't take that long to get a handle on it (by doing some tutorials and whatnot) but harder would be learning about typography and getting an inmate feel for good editorial design. Not something that can be taught in a day, unfortunately. Still, I recommend skillshare, they have a lot of great design tutorials.
The process was long... took me about a year. It could have been much shorter if some personal and startup events didn't interfere with the process, especially since it's such a small book (~140 pages). Another book that size would probably take me about three months. I ended up doing all of the design myself as well, which slowed me down, but it was enjoyable as I was able to use some of my design background and editorial design knowledge – a nice break from writing and programming.
I have thought about making instructional videos, since the ones that I sell in the "complete" package have been doing well. The biggest issue is time, since I'm still running my startup solo. Second biggest is potential revenue, since my salary for WeddingLovely is currently at $0 (long story) so I'm supporting myself completely on what Hello Web App is bringing in.
Thanks for the fun questions!
I really like how transparent you're being with the sales per platform, that's rather interesting information to be sharing. I've also never heard of gumroad before, so I'm really surprised by how it stacks up against amazon.
Gumroad is great, except that they don't market your book like Amazon does, so they're kind of apples and oranges. Most people don't do both platforms and it's been an interesting experiment trying both the hands-off let-Amazon-take-care-of-it vs. more money yet I have to do all fulfillment Gumroad side. I'm actually traveling right now and had to hire someone off of craigslist to ship books for me while I'm gone, it's been kind of a PITA.
I have a question (not related to my side project). I maintain a list of my eBook library where I put the following information about the eBooks I have (data for this book in parentheses): Publisher (Leanpub), Title (Hello Web App), Authors (Tracy Osborn), Published (), Purchased (2015-07-08), Last known update (2015-05-08), Catalog Page (http://leanpub.com/hellowebapp), Read duration (). As you can see, I was unable to determine what to put in the Published field. I would like to have information for this on the form Month Year. Could someone -- preferably Tracy or a Leanpub employee -- tell me what to put there?
PS: If you'd like to see my eBook library list, you can find it at http://www.erikano.net/eBooks/purchased.htm. Note that some of the books at the bottom of the list are ones I am not so interested in reading any longer.
Another datapoint...a few years ago I published a draft manual on how to use regular expressions. I've never finished it, but to date, I've accumulated $1,200 from Leanpub revenues...even though I set the book's price to $0. Once I have more time I'll finish it up...I was pleased to see that Leanpub made the publishing workflow even easier by hooking into Github...I've been trying to set up a system that simultaneously publishes via Leanpub while publishing a free web version using the same files via Jekyll.
tldr: Leanpub is great...I haven't used other self-publishing platforms but I can't imagine how much better something could be than Leanpub for those who like hacking/writing in Markdown and in their own text editors.
I'm also looking for authors who would want to publish their programming books or posts on my site , where they could include programming challenges and other exercises.
This article prompts a thought:
I want to sell a price study we did as a startup (in Germany) to businesses. Study is in PDF and price is around $300. Primary targets would be businesses.
Any suggestions on where to sell?
Probably best if the website offers also invoice payment and knows how to sell to businesses?
Some kind of personalization of the PDF (Buyer name etc.) would be nice for 'copy protection'.
Not sure about mobile?
Question... did you have a large email list when you were selling your pre-orders? How did you get the word out? Just product hunt?
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When I'm home, I do all the fulfillment myself, which took a lot of trial and error to find the best packaging solution. Now I use sheet of bubble wrap around each book, then put that in a cardboard mailer and tape it up, then I use a custom script that uses EasyPost to generate labels (I really need to write a post about that script, it's pretty awesome and has made my life so much easier. Before I was using USPS.com and Paypal and both services are terrible.) At the moment though I'm traveling abroad, so I hired someone off of Craigslist to fulfill books, paying $1.50 per book.
No need to apologize! It took me a long time to figure out the above process. Happy to answer more questions.
Congrats on the launch!