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EXECUTION Writing my first Non Fiction eBook

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Vaughn, Feb 11, 2019 at 3:32 PM.

  1. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Hey all,
    After silently reading in this forum for a couple of months, I feel it is time for my own Execution Thread. So here I go.

    ABOUT ME
    I went the typical slow lane so far. Went to university, got a marketing degree, did a traineeship (ridiculous pay) and stayed with the same company afterward for five years in total (salary still was ridiculous after the traineeship). Actually, it was rather a sidewalk than a slow lane job.
    In summer 2017, I was approached by a headhunter and took another job abroad. Still slow lane, but -because of a much higher salary and lower tax rates- at a higher speed limit. That was a big boost to my self-esteem, but it also opened some doors to invest in myself and my idea.

    Besides the new job, I started thinking about a way out of the slow lane. I must admit that I am not a big innovator or idea-machine. But I believe in the concept of digital products. Also, I always liked writing and especially connecting dots to create a bigger picture (with words), and so I decided to bring my talent together with my beliefs, and I started writing a non-fiction book/ebook.

    MY IDEA/NICHE
    I hate it when people tell about their progress and hide their ideas (although I admit there might be good reasons to do so). So I want to disclose mine.

    I was and still am working in mobile (app) marketing. This includes user acquisition, retention marketing, and in my last job also social marketing, monetization, and some game design tasks. And the book I am writing is about one specific aspect of user acquisition: App Store Optimization (ASO).

    So why ASO?
    First of all, I know ASO. It is my daily job for 7 years now. And while trying to figure out this job myself, I have learned two things:

    On the one hand, there is a decent amount of content available. But most of it is crap: One-pagers, whitepapers, blog posts and the like. Most content pieces only scratch the surface of a topic and leave readers with very general advice like “research your keywords” or “optimize your screenshots”. But they fail to tell people how.

    On the other hand, there is a big demand and some decent money to be made. Even the most basic articles get thousands of likes. On Udemy and similar platforms, I found video courses with 10,000+ enrolled students. But just from the titles and lengths of videos, I can tell that they don’t go into detail either.

    So I want to create something that does not exist in this form in the market: A book which tells readers what to do, but also how and why. I want to take readers by the hand and guide them step-by-step through their ASO process.

    Is it clear to me that I won’t re-invent the wheel. As said, I am good at connecting the dots, not at creating new dots. So I take information from the few good articles, blog posts, and white papers, and embed them in an underlying concept, that makes it easier for readers to understand the big picture.

    WHAT DID I ACHIEVE SO FAR?
    In late 2017, I started collecting valuable content. I organized it roughly with Trello (not quite the purpose of the platform, but I like using the columns as my chapters and the cards as text sections and move them around to outline my book).

    During my vacations in summer 2018, I finally started writing, and since then I wrote continuously in my leisure time. It has been a messy process so far, and I learned a couple of things that I want to share:

    • Decide on tools before you start working. With 100 pages written, I decided to switch from MS Word to another. Transferring my text was not possible without losing its structure and formatting, so it came with a lot of extra work. Although working is more comfortable now, this extra work could have been avoided.
    • Quality is not free. Besides the new word processing program, I use an online tool for editing. First, I used the free version. But then I decided to give the Premium version a shot, and boy, that really was an incredible upgrade. I would have missed a lot of errors if I used just the free program.
    • Decide on format and style before you start. For citations, I used footnotes first. But I only put the URLs in the footnotes, not the complete citations (incl. author, date, etc.), because I wanted to do this when the text is done. When I started implementing the complete citations, I realized that footnotes look terrible, especially when multiple citations appear on the same page. So I switched to endnotes instead. Again, a lot of extra work.
    • Go for “very good”, but not for “perfect”. I wasted hours thinking about the proper phrasing of single paragraphs. Just to realize that I can delete them without destroying one iota of value.
    After my first draft was about 70% finished, I decided to change the book’s structure. So I rearranged almost everything and rewrote. The second draft was way better, and 76,000 words long. Then, I started editing, added tables, graphics, and citations. At some points, I was really sad to see the messy sh*t, I produced: Sentences without a single verb, thoughts that I repeated twice within one page, 1st-grader grammar mistakes…

    However, I finished the third draft yesterday. I consider it good by now. And I am a bit proud.
    Right now, the book has:
    - 68,500 Words
    - 14 tables

    - 127 figures (incl. diagrams, screenshots with examples from the app stores, etc.)
    - 402 Endnotes / Citations

    WHAT DID I INVEST?
    Besides the time and work, I invested
    - 199 USD for the word processing program "Papyrus", Lifetime License.
    - 139 USD for Grammarly, 1 Year Subscription.
    - 96 USD for Whimsical, 1 Year Subscription. The original purpose of whimsical is to create UI mockups for apps and flowcharts. But it turned out it is great to design diagrams as well.

    WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
    To complete the book, I need to:
    • Find a professional editor and let him/her edit it. Not sure where to find that person though. I thought about Fiverr, but several people I spoke to were not enthusiastic about the quality of services there.
    • Do a final round of editing myself.
    • Design a cover for the book. Probably will start a contest on 99designs.com.
    • Create the first page (the one with copyrights, disclaimers and stuff)
    • Create the last section (Final words and thank you page). I will do this one after the final editing.

    Besides, I need to decide about the PRICE and DISTRIBUTION.

    I will go for a price in the range of 34.90 to 39.90 USD. Sounds very expensive, yes. But I believe it is reasonable. There is only one comparable ebook of my niche online, and it is priced at 39 USD. As it has the same problems like the other content about ASO has (rather general advice, 8 different authors, no underlying concept), I consider my book better and thus do not want to get much lower.

    Distribution is more complicated. My first idea was to sell only on Amazon in Kindle-Format (it is called MOBI I guess). But now, I think that is a bad idea for three reasons:
    1. Amazon takes 65% of the revenue for an ebook that expensive. Ridiculous.
    2. From all I have read, it seems Amazon can reset the price. I prefer to control my ebook’s price myself.
    3. In the mobile industry, it is usual to distribute content in PDF format. Even the comparable ebook is only available as PDF on the authors’ website. So it does not make much sense to invest extra time to make my ebook kindle-friendly.
    So I concluded that I will sell the ebook on my own website. I researched multiple solutions for this purpose. I am not 100% sure, but I believe I will go for a Wordpress site and use Payhip for the payment and distribution process. They charge 5% transaction fees, but no monthly price. After Paypal fees that are charged on top, I would keep about 90% of the revenue. My goal is to earn at least 20 USD net on average. So even if I grant a discount of 25% occasionally, I would meet that goal.

    Regarding PROMOTION, I have not done anything yet.

    My plan is to create a free version of the book with 5 to 10 sample pages. Give it away for email in exchange for email addresses, starting about four weeks before the release of the book.

    I will build the email list primarily via LinkedIn (and its German counterpart Xing). I have about 700 contacts on LinkedIn. Most of them are representatives of ad networks, agencies, tracking providers and other B2B companies in the mobile industry. So they are not really my target audience. But most of their contacts (so my 2nd level contacts) are. As I know many people for years and have a great relationship with them, I am confident some of them will share my posts and help me to promote my emails list (and later my book).

    In addition, I plan to find some affiliates who help me to sell the book in exchange for a commission. Payhip has a great feature for this purpose. I will approach especially on people who live in emerging countries, so they can promote the ebook to their peers.

    I also will talk to some contacts who own a blog (or work for a company that owns a blog). I will offer to write a blog post or two for them that provides value to readers and encourages them to check out my ebook.

    Long story short, these are my To Do’s regarding the distribution:
    • Buy a domain
    • Create a WordPress site (or let someone create it)
    • Set up Payhip and implement it into the website
    • Build the email list
    • Reach out to contacts to find promoters and affiliates
    • Check some legal stuff (f.e. taxes)
     
  2. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Here are some updates:

    Editing
    Today, I sent a portion of my ebook to an online editing service. They returned it within 6 hours. I was surprised that they did not find any significant grammer or punctuation error. Seems like Grammarly does a good job. They simplified a few sentences and adjusted two paragraphs to provide a better flow.
    Overall, I am satisfied with the editing, so I am thinking about hiring them. Cost would be about 1,000 USD for the entire document. Reasonable in my opinion. But the workflow is a f*ck-up. They need a Word-Doc, but when I export from my text processing program to docx, all graphics disappear and the formatting of headers breaks. However, guess I will give them a shot.

    Cover-Design
    I started a design contest on 99designs. Within the first 8 hours, I got 10 designs from 5 designers - and none matches my briefing. I asked to include four text elements (title, subtitle, tagline, author name) and nobody managed to do that. All design lack either the tagline or the author name. Besides, 8 out of 10 do not match my requirements regarding font size and/or color.
    I am really disappointed. Hope tomorrow will bring better results.

    Distribution
    I am still not sure about the homepage. I believe a full webshop / ecommerce solution is simply too much for just one ebook. On the other hand, it seems that creating a Wordpress site and implementing the mechanics for payment, distribution and newsletters is way more work.
    Any suggestions from someone who had similar needs in the past?

    Promotion
    To expand my reach on Linkedin, I add a couple of people to my contacts each day. I focus on high level/long time employees at companies, I worked with in the past, because they have my target audience in their contacts.
     
    Rabby likes this.
  3. Readerly
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    Readerly Yes and Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Congrats on finishing your ASO book, @Vaughn. It sounds like it has a lot of promise. You might try looking for a nonfiction book editor on Reedsy.com. It's basically Upwork exclusively for book publishing.

    Also consider experimenting with your price. If you lower the price to say, US$9.99, you may find that your book can serve as an excellent lead generator for more expensive services you could offer. Think of your book as one part of a bigger sales funnel. The purpose of the book is to establish you as THE authority on ASO.
     
    Vaughn and Private Witt like this.
  4. Vaughn
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    Vaughn Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Thanks for your kind words and for the suggestion, I will definitely check out Reedsy.com

    Experimenting with the price are on my agenda for sure. Although 9.99 USD is too low (especially because I do not have more expensive offers to cross-sale at the moment). I aim to make an average net profit of 20 USD per copy. But I will test temporary discounts (Early Bird Offers and the like) in the range of 20% to 50%.
    Besides, I believe in a case like this, where only very few products are available and most of them are low-price crap, a high price can be an indicator for good quality, right?
     
    Readerly likes this.
  5. Readerly
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    Readerly Yes and Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I'd agree with you when considering other products. But my sense is that most readers expect books to cost around 5 to 15 bucks, unless the book is in a special category, like textbooks or coffee table books. It'll be intersting to see how your pricing experiments play out.

    And it really wouldn't take much for you to offer additional premium services. What kind of hourly consulting rate could you charge if you were considered the expert in your niche?
     

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