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EXECUTION Writing my first Non Fiction eBook

Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
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)
 

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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
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.
 

Readerly

Yes and
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Sep 25, 2017
175
293
177
Portland, Oregon
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.
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.
 
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
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.
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

Yes and
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Sep 25, 2017
175
293
177
Portland, Oregon
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?
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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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
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?
The price range of 5 to 15 bucks is perfectly reasonable for many books in the self-development area, which address a wide audience. I consider ASO a very specific niche. And as there is not much competition in terms of high quality content, I think that premium prices >20 USD are fine. I know one ASO book with about 400 pages that costs 39 USD (+VAT). It has some of the problems which are common in the industry (8 contributers, no central thread connecting the single content pieces, barely scratches the surface of many topics), and it sold 1,000+ times within a couple of weeks. As far as I am aware, the publishers promoted it primarily via his client list (he actually is an ASO consultant). I believe my book is better, and therefore I do not want to go way below this pricepoint (temporary promotions/discounts excepted).

Regarding the hourly rate as an ASO advisor: To be honest, I have no idea. There are guys on Fiverr who do keyword research on a very basic level for 5 bucks. But I don't know what professional consultants like the guy I mentioned above charge. As competition in this area is much bigger than it is for content, I believe the hourly rate would hardly beat my current rate at my slowlane job.
Besides, consulting is kinda slowlanish as well, isn't it? It is still exchanging money for time. And frankly, I would not want to do ASO consulting full time. It might be an option to create more expensive information product such as video courses. But I also think about writing more books about other aspects of Mobile Marketing.
But that is a future party, right now I am focusing on finalizing my first book. Speaking of that...

UPDATE ON MY PROGRESS:

Cover Design
The cover design contest finally goes into the right direction. With specific instructions, I got some very good designs that match my expectations. I made the designers implement a logo into the book cover that I can use on the website too. And all the designs I take into the final round before making the final decision could be adjusted easily to create covers for other books in the same niche. So I have the option to create a book series with a recognizable cover design.
By the way, can I post the final cover here, or would that be considered prohibited advertising?

Editing
I followed your advice, @Readerly, and reached out to some editors on reedsy.com. So far only 1 of 5 replied with follow-up questions. But I gave them time until end of next week to come up with a quote.
While waiting, I did some adjustments to my book myself. By reordering two chapters, I could strengthen the central thread and make my ideas clearer. Also, I renamed one of the basic concepts to make it unique. This causes some follow-up adjustments, but was totally worth it. I plan to use this concept for teaser blog posts to promote my book.

Distribution / Web Store Setup
Still one of the biggest painpoints. It is very hard to figure out which service serves my needs best. At this point, I tend toward building a simple wordpress site. But I am still unsure which of the wordpress plans I need to book for this purpose, and their support is not the fastest to respond.
For payment and distribution, I will probably use Gumroad. They offer similar services like Payhip, but they charge less commission.

Tasks for today:
- Pick the last finalists for the cover design contest and give a last round of instructions to improve their designs
- Buy a domain. No matter which platform / shop system I finally use, I want to make sure that nobody takes my domain before I do.
- Figure out Paypal Business Accounts. Never dealt with them before.
 

Readerly

Yes and
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Sep 25, 2017
175
293
177
Portland, Oregon
The price range of 5 to 15 bucks is perfectly reasonable for many books in the self-development area, which address a wide audience. I consider ASO a very specific niche. And as there is not much competition in terms of high quality content, I think that premium prices >20 USD are fine. I know one ASO book with about 400 pages that costs 39 USD (+VAT). It has some of the problems which are common in the industry (8 contributers, no central thread connecting the single content pieces, barely scratches the surface of many topics), and it sold 1,000+ times within a couple of weeks. As far as I am aware, the publishers promoted it primarily via his client list (he actually is an ASO consultant). I believe my book is better, and therefore I do not want to go way below this pricepoint (temporary promotions/discounts excepted).

Regarding the hourly rate as an ASO advisor: To be honest, I have no idea. There are guys on Fiverr who do keyword research on a very basic level for 5 bucks. But I don't know what professional consultants like the guy I mentioned above charge. As competition in this area is much bigger than it is for content, I believe the hourly rate would hardly beat my current rate at my slowlane job.
Besides, consulting is kinda slowlanish as well, isn't it? It is still exchanging money for time. And frankly, I would not want to do ASO consulting full time. It might be an option to create more expensive information product such as video courses. But I also think about writing more books about other aspects of Mobile Marketing.
But that is a future party, right now I am focusing on finalizing my first book. Speaking of that...

UPDATE ON MY PROGRESS:

Cover Design
The cover design contest finally goes into the right direction. With specific instructions, I got some very good designs that match my expectations. I made the designers implement a logo into the book cover that I can use on the website too. And all the designs I take into the final round before making the final decision could be adjusted easily to create covers for other books in the same niche. So I have the option to create a book series with a recognizable cover design.
By the way, can I post the final cover here, or would that be considered prohibited advertising?

Editing
I followed your advice, @Readerly, and reached out to some editors on reedsy.com. So far only 1 of 5 replied with follow-up questions. But I gave them time until end of next week to come up with a quote.
While waiting, I did some adjustments to my book myself. By reordering two chapters, I could strengthen the central thread and make my ideas clearer. Also, I renamed one of the basic concepts to make it unique. This causes some follow-up adjustments, but was totally worth it. I plan to use this concept for teaser blog posts to promote my book.

Distribution / Web Store Setup
Still one of the biggest painpoints. It is very hard to figure out which service serves my needs best. At this point, I tend toward building a simple wordpress site. But I am still unsure which of the wordpress plans I need to book for this purpose, and their support is not the fastest to respond.
For payment and distribution, I will probably use Gumroad. They offer similar services like Payhip, but they charge less commission.

Tasks for today:
- Pick the last finalists for the cover design contest and give a last round of instructions to improve their designs
- Buy a domain. No matter which platform / shop system I finally use, I want to make sure that nobody takes my domain before I do.
- Figure out Paypal Business Accounts. Never dealt with them before.
Your rigor is really impressive.

Regarding ASO consulting: if you can position yourself as a top expert, I wonder if you'd be able to charge an hourly rate well over $100, maybe even $200, especially if you can prove a track record of ROI.

But, sure, competing on Fiverr or Upwork for keyword services is definitely slowlane. On the other hand, an ASO agency you run or an ASO SaaS could be fastlane.

I hope Reedsy works out for you.
 

Suzanne Bazemore

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Sep 30, 2018
236
445
213
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.
Have you considered speaking to a class at a university or offer to speak at a tech conference, and you could sell your book on the side. Also, you could write a guest blog and have a link to your book and website as part of your signature.
 
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
Have you considered speaking to a class at a university or offer to speak at a tech conference, and you could sell your book on the side. Also, you could write a guest blog and have a link to your book and website as part of your signature.
Thanks for your suggestions.
Writing guest blogs is definitely on my agenda. Speaking at conferences or universities would not be something, I would like to do. I am simply not someone who enjoys being the center of attention. However, I don't rule anything out.

UPDATES

Cover Design
I have promoted four designers to the final round. At this point, all of their designs are good to very good. I will probably pick a lady who needed the least individual instructions to deliver a great design. Besides, she is experienced with doing interior book design and also with making ads. We had a great email exchange and I feel like she would be a great long-term help.

Hosting / Website
After doing some more research, I came to the conclusion that a wordpress site with a 3rd party plugin for payment/distribution is the best solution for me. I signed up with a local hosting provider (local = from my country) who offers the latest hosting technologies, 1-click wordpress installation, and SSL certificates included for all domains.
I added three domains in total: One for my name, one for the book and one for the (potential) book series. For the beginning, I will build on the last one and use the other two to redirect to it.
Total price is 240 bucks for one year. So with one sale per month, I would be break-even.
I probably will buy an universal wordpress theme for 50-100 USD. Found some good recommendations online.

Editing
Unfortunately the editors I asked for a quote on Reedsy declined because they could not meet my deadline. Seems I will go with the online service, I already got a sample editing from.
In the meanwhile, I am doing one more round of editing myself. Again I am somewhat shocked about the obvious errors I overread the last 20 times :-D


Right now, I have a real good feeling. It just feels great to get sh!t done, and in my head, I am already outlining manuscripts for future books. However, there is still some steps to go to complete the first one. I will keep you updated. Thanks for the kind words and suggestions so far.
 
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
UPDATES

Cover Design
The Cover Design is 99% done, just some minor adjustments and I can hook it of the to-do list. The lady who I picked as the winner is great and quick to execute my requests. She will also make an interior design for a short snippet from my manuscript. Not sure if I really need an interior design, I am curious to see how big the improvement is in comparison to my current design.

Hosting / Website
I played around with Wordpress a little and I am beginning to understand it. Found a great free template for ebook stores and already did some adjustments.
Integrating the payment solution by Gumroad should be easy, but I need to upload the final version of my ebook before I can finalize it.
I realized that Gumroad takes not only 3,5% comission for every transaction, but 8,5%. The lower rate is only for premium customers. Of course these punks did not mention that on their homepage. As premium costs only 10$ a month and comes with some other nice improvements (payment form is fully customizable with CSS), I will probably subscribe to it. Well done, Gumroad.
Still need to figure out how newsletter signup and distributing free samples works.

Editing
I finished my own editing yesterday. Found some more errors and also did some improvements in term of structure. This morning, I sent the file to the editor (the original online service ; all the editors from reedsy declined because they are booked out 3 months in advance).

Promotion
I connected with over 400 people on LinkedIn within the last two weeks, bringing the total number of contacts to 950. I focused on C-Level employers of relevant companies in EU/US, but also added many freelancers and start up employers from Eastern Europe and India/Pakistan. Some of them already tried to sell me their sh!t, but I usually send them a random nice message "found something interesting you posted, would like to read more..." to deny. Good thing is that many people on LinkedIn are very supportive if they think they can sell you something, so I still hope that I can gain some traffic for my ebook just by posting in my feed.

Currently I am thinking about buying a pack of ISBNs... not sure if that is really necessary / beneficial though. 1 would cost 115 USD, but a pack of 10 is available for 300 USD.


COSTS (so far):
One time:
- Writing Software $200
- Book Cover Design $350
- Editing (Prepaid) $950
TOTAL $1,500

Ongoing:
- Software for creating diagrams & figures $100 (yearly subscription)
- Grammarly Premium $140 (yearly subscription)
- Web Hosting, incl. 3 domains $240 (yearly subscription)
- Gumroad (not booked yet) $120 (per year ; monthly subscription)
TOTAL $600 per year / $ 50 per month ; so 3 ebook sales would cover the cost.
 

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Earthling

Contributor
Feb 23, 2019
17
28
17
Hey, read your thread since I'm thinking about shifting from fiction to nonfiction.

Just want to warn that the Promotion part may take a lot more work (which I'm sure you may already know/suspect). So if you ping your LinkedIn contacts, get a trickle of sales, and then nothing, don't give up! Maybe it will work fabulously, but I want to warn you not to feel bad if it doesn't work.

Find where your customers gather and pull them in. You can even use other platforms.

Skipping Amazon? That's fine, but you can make a short 30-page ebook, offer it for free on Amazon, and then you have a lead-generator from the world's largest ebook store search engine.

If Udemy has a lot of potential customers, consider making a really cheap (or do they allow free?) short course. Now you show up in Udemy listings. I'm not sure how they do promotions, but your course might be suggested to people with similar interests.

Obviously Google and SEO, a few good online resources (I wouldn't spend a ton on content at this point for Google, since more effective avenues for traffic may exist, but it serves as your online business card for blog promotions, etc.).

Of course PPC (FB, Instagram, I think LinkedIn has PPC, I haven't checked.) Also, look into the weird ones and knowledge based sites - I believe Quora has PPC. Reddit Ads sucks because they changed their program recently, but you can probably market organically there without PPC.

If you have some way to measure the success of a strategy, don't be afraid to try people-based tactics. You can contact relevant youtubers and ask for a shoutout, possibly a paid shoutout. Ditto for Udemy instructors - ask them to recommend your book, or use it as a textbook, give them an affiliate commission.

Unless you have tested your marketing channel before, you may be surprised at what works and doesn't work. So in your case, I would probably at least test a few different channels quickly, figure out which ones convert the best, keep the winners, and go deep with resources (money or hussle time).

Good luck.
 
OP
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
Hey, read your thread since I'm thinking about shifting from fiction to nonfiction.

Just want to warn that the Promotion part may take a lot more work (which I'm sure you may already know/suspect). So if you ping your LinkedIn contacts, get a trickle of sales, and then nothing, don't give up! Maybe it will work fabulously, but I want to warn you not to feel bad if it doesn't work.

Find where your customers gather and pull them in. You can even use other platforms.

Skipping Amazon? That's fine, but you can make a short 30-page ebook, offer it for free on Amazon, and then you have a lead-generator from the world's largest ebook store search engine.

If Udemy has a lot of potential customers, consider making a really cheap (or do they allow free?) short course. Now you show up in Udemy listings. I'm not sure how they do promotions, but your course might be suggested to people with similar interests.

Obviously Google and SEO, a few good online resources (I wouldn't spend a ton on content at this point for Google, since more effective avenues for traffic may exist, but it serves as your online business card for blog promotions, etc.).

Of course PPC (FB, Instagram, I think LinkedIn has PPC, I haven't checked.) Also, look into the weird ones and knowledge based sites - I believe Quora has PPC. Reddit Ads sucks because they changed their program recently, but you can probably market organically there without PPC.

If you have some way to measure the success of a strategy, don't be afraid to try people-based tactics. You can contact relevant youtubers and ask for a shoutout, possibly a paid shoutout. Ditto for Udemy instructors - ask them to recommend your book, or use it as a textbook, give them an affiliate commission.

Unless you have tested your marketing channel before, you may be surprised at what works and doesn't work. So in your case, I would probably at least test a few different channels quickly, figure out which ones convert the best, keep the winners, and go deep with resources (money or hussle time).

Good luck.
Thanks for your post. Some great suggestions, especially Quora is a platform I haven't thought about yet. Will definitely have a look into it.

Regarding free ebooks / courses I am sceptical. Even for free products, users might give bad reviews if they get the impression their only purpose is cross promotion (what it would be). Not sure if that would be beneficial in the long run.
Blog posts and reaching out to influencer sounds more promising.
 

404profound

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I'm not sure where you landed on price, but I'd probably buy it if it's under 20 bucks. I am building an app right now.
 
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
UPDATES

Unfortunately, I spent most of the last two weeks sick in bed. Also, my computer went down in flames, so I could not make as much progress as planned. Nevertheless, I made a couple of steps forward:

Manuscript
I am confident my text is ready to be published now. After I made the adjustments my editor suggested and did another round of editing myself, I am 90% happy with it (the remaining 10% is the perfectionism that I have to sacrifice on the altar of "getting sh!t done"). As the automatic footnotes and content table features of my text processing program are somewhat buggy, I did both half-manually.

Publishing
After initially researching Amazon KDP, I stepped back from publishing a print version, because the printing costs are very high. With my 430-pages manuscript in color (and color is a must-have because of the many figures), I would have needed to charge at least 80 USD just to make it a break-even deal for me.
Fortunately, I was able to reduce the page count drastically. By switching from a European paperback format to US trade 6x9 inches, choosing another font type, reducing the font size from 12 to 11, and rearranging some figures to reduce the empty white space, I could bring it down to only 307 pages.
That allows me to sell the book at 59,90 USD (or 49,90 EUR) with a net earning of 10 USD for me. Still a high price, but way better than before. And it is 13 bucks cheaper than my only competitor's book.

Marketing
Still, Linkedin will be my first shot for marketing. I grew my network to 2,000 people with many relevant 2nd-level-contacts. Besides this organic shot, I have looked into Linkedin ads. They give all new customer 50 EUR in free ads, so I will definitely try those.
My cover designer will create some banners for me.

Homepage
Due to my computer's smoky death, not much happened here. The homepage is 75% done nevertheless. Just need to add some graphics (my cover designer will create those as well) and set up the Gumroad plugin.

Next steps:
- Finalize the PDF-document (combining text + cover and have it checked)
- Upload to Amazon KDP and Gumroad
- Finalize Homepage

I am pretty confident I can have the ebook ready for sale in early April. I believe Amazon needs about 6-8 weeks to bring a print book into the stores, so I am aiming for June here.
 
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
Finally I did release my book. It is now available on all Amazon storefronts and also as PDF download.

The last weeks were somewhat nerve-wrecking as I ran into more technical problems with the PDF export and also with the homepage. But I managed to solve them.

A couple of minutes ago, I shared my website and the Amazon links on Linkedin... so hopefully I can see a bit of traffic soon.
For early May, a guest post of me will be posted on the blog of a successful company in the industry. As this addresses people who are 100% my target audience, I hope it will trigger some more sales.

I am currently on vacation until the end pf April. After that I will dip my toe into Google Ads and also try Reddit Ads.
 
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
About four weeks after the release, it's time for the first sales report.
The post on LinkedIn was shared and liked by several of my contacts, so that it got about 3,500 views in total. From these views, I generated 4 sales of the print version on Amazon, resulting in net payouts of about $44. The e-book sold 4 times as well, generating net payouts of $130. So in sum, I made $174. Not too bad for one post on LinkedIn, I guess.

The guest post, I mentioned in my last post, is live now. But the publishing company has not advertised it yet. They will send a newsletter pointing to the post in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, I approached more blog owners, 14 in total. 2 declined, 3 are currently looking into my book. I hope, I'll get some more positive responses.

I also approached some guys on LinkedIn to find affiliates. So far 2 responses of people who at least want to learn more details.
 

Cyberdeth

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Jan 10, 2018
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Sydney, Australia
About four weeks after the release, it's time for the first sales report.
The post on LinkedIn was shared and liked by several of my contacts, so that it got about 3,500 views in total. From these views, I generated 4 sales of the print version on Amazon, resulting in net payouts of about $44. The e-book sold 4 times as well, generating net payouts of $130. So in sum, I made $174. Not too bad for one post on LinkedIn, I guess.

The guest post, I mentioned in my last post, is live now. But the publishing company has not advertised it yet. They will send a newsletter pointing to the post in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, I approached more blog owners, 14 in total. 2 declined, 3 are currently looking into my book. I hope, I'll get some more positive responses.

I also approached some guys on LinkedIn to find affiliates. So far 2 responses of people who at least want to learn more details.
Hi Vaughn,

Do you have any update on your book sales?
 
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
Hi Vaughn,

Do you have any update on your book sales?
Hi Cyberdeth and thanks for the question.

By now, I sold 15 print copies via Amazon that equal 150 USD in net proceedings. To be honest, I don't know where exactly where these customers came from. I assume most found the book via a search on Amazon.
In addition, I sold 14 ebooks via Gumroad and made 430 USD in proceedings. All of them found the book via my website after reading a guest blog post that I wrote for several companies in the mobile industry (I know that because they used discount coupons that I add to the blog posts).

In summary, I am not sure if I am satisfied so far. Making almost 600 bucks in 4 month sounds not too bad on the one hand. But on the other hand, it is not much given the time and money I have put in so far. And
of course, it is far away from a substantial passive income.

I need to establish it in top rankings in search results to generate organic customers, otherwise, this project won't pay off. At the moment, I try to make my website more SEO-friendly (better performance, lower loading times, etc.). Not really easy, given that I don't know much about SEO and web design in general.
I also build a glossary with mobile marketing terms. Hopefully, that will drive more users toward my site.

I am thinking about writing a second book too. I have a rough outline, but at the moment, I don't have the time to write on a regular basis.

Happy for any suggestion and advice.
 

Cyberdeth

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jan 10, 2018
43
55
109
43
Sydney, Australia
Hi Cyberdeth and thanks for the question.

By now, I sold 15 print copies via Amazon that equal 150 USD in net proceedings. To be honest, I don't know where exactly where these customers came from. I assume most found the book via a search on Amazon.
In addition, I sold 14 ebooks via Gumroad and made 430 USD in proceedings. All of them found the book via my website after reading a guest blog post that I wrote for several companies in the mobile industry (I know that because they used discount coupons that I add to the blog posts).

In summary, I am not sure if I am satisfied so far. Making almost 600 bucks in 4 month sounds not too bad on the one hand. But on the other hand, it is not much given the time and money I have put in so far. And
of course, it is far away from a substantial passive income.

I need to establish it in top rankings in search results to generate organic customers, otherwise, this project won't pay off. At the moment, I try to make my website more SEO-friendly (better performance, lower loading times, etc.). Not really easy, given that I don't know much about SEO and web design in general.
I also build a glossary with mobile marketing terms. Hopefully, that will drive more users toward my site.

I am thinking about writing a second book too. I have a rough outline, but at the moment, I don't have the time to write on a regular basis.

Happy for any suggestion and advice.
I've also released a book and learned a lot in the process. Haven't made anywhere close to FU money. I've only had 4 sales in 4 days. Not bad, but would've like more. Here are the things that I've learned and should improve on.

* Don't write non-fiction. Rather focus on the best selling genre's: Romance, Sci-Fi and Fantasy (RSSF) in that order. I released a non-fiction book, and although I thought that people would find it useful, it's just not where the market is. I paraphrase from MJ's book, it should be your passion, it should not be what you like. Personally I don't like reading RSFF, but sales on amazon points to a lot more people who do like it. There might be a lot more competition, but you'll get a lot more eyes on your titles.
* Use the SCAMPER method of determining the plot for a new book.
* Run a pre-order before actually starting to write the book. On amazon, you get up to 90 days to run pre-orders. That will give you plenty of time to assess the feasibility of the project. For instance, depending on the amount of people who are interested, the more pages you might be inclined to write, which equates to how much time/money do you want to throw at the project. If you've got $600 worth of pre-sales, then you might only want to release a short story or something. But the plus is, you can use the proceeds from the pre-sales to pay for you work. This could also use this as a benchmark to see if you need you book translated or not.
* If you don't have the time or skill, get a freelancer to write the book for you. You just have to rteally spend some time to interview/filter your candidates for your work. You shouldn't get someone who has never writter a sci-fi to write a sci-fi book for you etc.
* You don't need to spend $100's of dollars on software. Opensource software does the trick pretty well and amazon also provides software to format a book and to create book cover.
* Shameless self promotion on social media goes a long way.
* Create a nom de plume (aka pen name) to publish different genres. You can make this name up however you want.

That's all I can think of at the moment, if I think of anything else, I'll mention it here. What have you learned from your book publication?

EDIT: I found these posts quite eye opening: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2018/07/25/author-earnings-2018-book-sales-breakdown/, List of the Top #100 Most Competitive Amazon Kindle Bestseller Categories, How to Choose Amazon Categories to Increase Your Sales | TCK, Amazon Book Sales Calculator | TCK Publishing, The Ultimate Author Resource List
 
Last edited:
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Vaughn

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 20, 2017
40
65
113
Switzerland
Thanks for your remarks. What topics have you written about?

In terms of the number of potential readers, I am sure that focusing on fiction makes more sense than non-fiction. However, I believe there are good arguments to write non-fiction too:
  • Less competition, especially if you focus on a niche where there is not much material to read about. That is what I am doing with the App Store Optimization stuff
  • Higher proceedings. If you sell a fiction ebook on Amazon, how much do you earn? 2-5 USD minus Amazons share? And if your book is available on Kindle unlimited, you might only get pennies per reader. Currently, I am making about 10 USD per print copy (depends on the storefront; in the US it is a little less, but in the GB, it is about 15 USD) and 30 USD (!) per ebook on Gumroad.
  • More potential for additional products. If you write a non-fiction book and are able to build an audience, you can sell additional products to them. Think of video courses, webinars, live seminars, etc. With fiction, you can only hope to sell the next 3-5 USD ebook
What I have learned is basically this:
  • Take care of the technical stuff (especially software) before writing. I spent days just to reformat text after switching to another writing software.
  • Same is true for formatting. I had to redo my bibliography twice because I decided to use another format. Also, I changed the format/size of my book from a European format to US trade. That saved me about 100 pages, so I could decrease the print-on-demand price by almost 20 USD. But I also needed to readjust all 130 figures and reorder some chapters.
  • F*** your self-doubts. That is one of my most crucial findings. I used (and still use) to think about single phrases for hours because they seem to be not good enough. I need to learn to just write them down and move on and let an editor think about it later.
 

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Bertram

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
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?
Agree with you about the price.
 

Bertram

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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?
Look at the university trade presses for similar. $39 is a bargain. $100+ is expected.
 

Bertram

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Oct 25, 2015
321
404
216
Arizona and Maine
UPDATES

Unfortunately, I spent most of the last two weeks sick in bed. Also, my computer went down in flames, so I could not make as much progress as planned. Nevertheless, I made a couple of steps forward:

Manuscript
I am confident my text is ready to be published now. After I made the adjustments my editor suggested and did another round of editing myself, I am 90% happy with it (the remaining 10% is the perfectionism that I have to sacrifice on the altar of "getting sh!t done"). As the automatic footnotes and content table features of my text processing program are somewhat buggy, I did both half-manually.

Publishing
After initially researching Amazon KDP, I stepped back from publishing a print version, because the printing costs are very high. With my 430-pages manuscript in color (and color is a must-have because of the many figures), I would have needed to charge at least 80 USD just to make it a break-even deal for me.
Fortunately, I was able to reduce the page count drastically. By switching from a European paperback format to US trade 6x9 inches, choosing another font type, reducing the font size from 12 to 11, and rearranging some figures to reduce the empty white space, I could bring it down to only 307 pages.
That allows me to sell the book at 59,90 USD (or 49,90 EUR) with a net earning of 10 USD for me. Still a high price, but way better than before. And it is 13 bucks cheaper than my only competitor's book.

Marketing
Still, Linkedin will be my first shot for marketing. I grew my network to 2,000 people with many relevant 2nd-level-contacts. Besides this organic shot, I have looked into Linkedin ads. They give all new customer 50 EUR in free ads, so I will definitely try those.
My cover designer will create some banners for me.

Homepage
Due to my computer's smoky death, not much happened here. The homepage is 75% done nevertheless. Just need to add some graphics (my cover designer will create those as well) and set up the Gumroad plugin.

Next steps:
- Finalize the PDF-document (combining text + cover and have it checked)
- Upload to Amazon KDP and Gumroad
- Finalize Homepage

I am pretty confident I can have the ebook ready for sale in early April. I believe Amazon needs about 6-8 weeks to bring a print book into the stores, so I am aiming for June here.
Sell the hardcover for $100.
 

Bertram

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Oct 25, 2015
321
404
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Arizona and Maine
I hope you reconsider selling your books at speaking engagements. Like you I dislike public attention. The solution I found was to just go into the event like it's work. Approack it as a job.

A governement subsidized regional technnology or business association or center could be a great venu for you. Often they do promotional work. That's free advertizing for you and you can presell the event with a little book discount.

You might look into presenting the work at a library talk as part of a business series. That amounts to months of free local and online advertising.

You have a burgeoning world market.

Your tryptych through self-publishing is inspired. Please keep us posted.
 

Readerly

Yes and
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Sep 25, 2017
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177
Portland, Oregon
Look at the university trade presses for similar. $39 is a bargain. $100+ is expected.
True. I published a scholarly monograph with the University of Michigan Press a few years back. It indeed was a bargain at $50. It sold about 200 copies. Pretty good, considering how niche the topic was (culture studies of theoretical physics).

The core of my suggestion is to use the book as a lead magnet.
 

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