23 Oct

Authority Case Studies: $30,000+ in sales from first time authors

The greatest honor for anyone who teaches is to see the results of their work. Today I’m really proud to showcase what my readers have accomplished after reading Authority. Now to be clear, they did the hard work, I just gave them a framework to execute on.

Have you ever bought a book, read it, and then taken none of the advice? The authors listed below did exactly the opposite. They took the advice to heart and worked hard to make these results happen. Enjoy the stories!




Pete Keen


Tell us about your book.

Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails is an in-depth guide on integrating Stripe payments with your Rails application. It goes into details that the 10 minute getting-started guides don’t cover, helping you get payments right without going through painful trial and error.

Where were you at in the book writing process before reading Authority?

I didn’t even have an idea. I kind of thought that writing a book might be a good idea, but Authority really inspired me to do get going.

How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?

I started in mid-May and released a first draft for pre-orders on July 15th. I spent 70 hours on the first draft and the software project that comes with the mid-tier package. Overall I probably spent almost 150 hours on writing, editing, and formatting the guide and building the sales application and marketing materials.

What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?

Initially I made landing page with an email capture form and posted it to Hacker News. I started talking about it on Twitter, even before deciding to follow through on the project. I had 300 people on the mailing list on preorder launch day. There was also one guest post that went out on launch day, but it did not generate significant traffic.

How were the revenue and sales from the book?

I wrote a long post about the numbers. I did preorders and did ~$3000 prior to launch day. On launch day itself there was a large spike in sales with things tapering off. Between launch day and today I’ve done another $7000 in sales, but that’s tapered to just a few copies every week.

What would you do differently if you were launching another product?

In a phrase, I would follow the steps in Authority more faithfully, including more blogging about and around my topic before launch. I would also do more guest blog posts and work my list more delicately and not try to sell to them in every email.

What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?

The most valuable lesson I learned is that I didn’t have to be an expert to start writing a book because the process of writing itself taught me so much. I think the other valuable lesson is that producing a substantial work is possible over time by persistently writing a small chunk every day.

What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?

Emacs, Markdown, Docverter and some Ruby tools I put together. I use a custom Rails application to sell the book, the source for which is included in the mid-level tier.

What’s next for you?

Mostly promotion of my current book for now. I’m considering creating a series of Mastering Modern Payments books for various languages and payment processors.


Modern HTML Email

 Jason Rodriguez


Tell us about your book.

Coding HTML emails that work on today’s range of devices sucks.  Modern HTML Email is a new guide that takes the pain out of building robust, responsive, and effective HTML email campaigns.

It takes you on a tour of the mechanics of email campaigns and coding reliable and responsive HTML emails. It even offers some tips for optimizing your campaigns and provides you with resources to further your skills. You can find out more here  and on my blog.

Where were you at in the book writing process before reading Authority?

I had the initial idea for writing a book. A few topics crossed my mind – HTML and CSS, designing for the web, etc – but Authority taught me to tap into what I know better than most, which happens to be HTML email.

How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?

The actual writing of the book took about a month. Editing, designing, and readying the digital and print versions took a little less than a month afterwards. The book was completed entirely at night, on the weekends, and when I could squeeze it in on lunch breaks. It took quite a few late, late nights but it was worth it and my wife and daughter were very supportive and helpful with allowing me to carve out time to work on it.

What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?

v65oai7fxn47qv9nectxMost of the promotion took place on my website, where I wrote a number of blog posts around the topic of HTML email campaigns that were then publicized via Twitter, Hacker News, and Designer News. Naturally, I started an email list and used email campaigns to keep subscribers engaged. I also worked with leading names in the email design community who not only helped out with providing quotes for the guide, but also helped promote the book at launch time – including Campaign Monitor and Litmus.

How were the revenue and sales from the book?

I did not have preorders available, but will probably consider that option for my next book. I was happy with launch day, making about 20 sales. Bigger spikes appeared after certain events such as Campaign Monitor featuring me on their blog, Sidebar.io featuring the project in their successful email newsletter, and people (like you) tweeting about it. As of today, I have sold 274 copies and generated almost $3,000 in revenue. Sales have tapered off drastically but the book still averages about a sale a day.

What would you do differently if you were launching another product?

I think I would use guest posts to try to generate more buzz both before and after launch. If it was another book, I would really want to experiment with providing different packages and extras such as video tutorials, files, etc.

 What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?

That you need to be perceived as an expert to get people to buy what you are selling, and that blog posts and interacting with a community are the best ways to do that. It is amazing that just writing about a topic and getting your voice out there is enough to set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Just putting things out there can have so many benefits – apart from the nice extra money, I have made some great contacts, friends, and even had a few job offers thrown my way.

What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?

I wrote the book in Microsoft Word (which had its ups and downs), designed everything in InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, and then published via Gumroad for the digital version and Amazon Createspace for the print version. I use Campaign Monitor for email campaigns and integrate it with my website which currently runs on Statamic. I test my emails – both for my subscribers and for the content of the book – using Litmus, an amazing app.

What’s next for you?

I plan on continuing promotion of my current book and have a few ideas for my next book(s). I have made some great connections in the email industry and want to continue building my expertise and reputation in the design community, and will constantly be working towards that. I feel like both Authority and the process of writing and self-publishing a book has done great things for me and helped open up a lot of doors. Now I’m eager to see where those doors take me.



bookSean Fioritto

Tell us about your book.

Have you ever wanted to strangle Photoshop with your bare hands? Photoshop fails as a web design tool in so many ways. Sketching with CSS is filled with tools and techniques to help you create your designs directly in the browser.

Where were you at in the book writing process before reading Authority?

I had an idea.

How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?

It’s been about 4 months and I’m about 80% done. I’m probably obsessing over details a little too much.

What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?

I’ve written two blog posts and built an email list of almost 1000 people by promoting those two posts everywhere I could.

How were the revenue and sales from the book?

I launched pre-orders last Friday. As of today I’ve made $4,713. All I did was send a couple emails to my mailing list and one tweet, (most of my Twitter followers are on my list, so this is basically just free re-targeting ads for me).

What would you do differently if you were launching another product?

Pick a smaller, more focused topic. My book will probably be over 300 pages by the time I’m done. I would also pick something tied even more directly to making money, which would make value pricing even easier. Obviously learning some front-end developer skills will increase your value as a web designer on the market, but exactly how much is pretty fuzzy.

What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?

Build a mailing list. The web is a force of nature, a torrent of attention flowing where it wants. From time to time I’ve dipped my hand in the flow, but last week, when I sent those emails to my list, I added my own little tributary to the river. People were talking about my book launch on twitter because I sent a few emails, and strangers gave me money. I’m hooked on email lists.

What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?

Jekyll, Gumroad, Mailchimp, (working on ConvertKit).

What’s next for you?

Finish this book and prepare for my real launch. Then another product.


Graeme Blake

LSAT-69-ExplanationsTell us about your book.

I write explanations for the LSAT exam. Extremely hard law school admissions exam, comes with no explanations. I fill the gap.

Where were you at in the book writing process before reading Authority?

I already had a book series that sold around $1,000 a month on amazon, and $700 per month in e-book affiliate sales.

Authority gave me the idea that I needed to build my own platform. All my current sales come from amazon referrals + affiliates.

I released a free html version of two of my books, and sold pdf versions. Am in a heavy consulting period, but once that is over will grow the site. The site already led to $600 in passive sales and took little effort to build, so Authority more than paid for itself.

How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?

I have six books. Some are small, take about a week to write, and make $100-$200 a month. Two are larger books, took a couple of months to write, and make about $300 a month each.

I find it very hard to write when I have other things going on. I tend to block off weeks and focus on nothing but writing until a certain section is done.

What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?

I control the subreddit for the LSAT. That helps, in particular with getting reviews.

How were the revenue and sales from the book?

I put the books on amazon, and the system promoted them. About $100-$200 a book, or 10-20 sales a month.

What would you do differently if you were launching another product?

I would do more blog posts + build a platform. Actually, that’s what I’m doing now.

What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?

  1. I should have my own platform.
  2. The single best idea I got from authority was to do a free html version. This seemed very relevant for my niche because:
  3. I could make a page for each of the 100 questions in my book
  4. People search for the terms in those explanations
  5. If I release enough for free, people will start linking to my page as a resource
  6. I can use the platform to sell pdf versions, and other paid products.

There’s already a video explanation page for *part* of the test that is accomplishing steps 1-4, so I’m reasonably confident the model can work for me.

I haven’t taken the site too far due to consulting work in August and September (I read Authority in late July). But I’ve already gotten about $600 in sales from the site, with very little effort put into marketing.

Once my heavy consulting period is over, I’m going to work on new books + the site full time + promotion and email, and I expect it will grow quite well.

What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?

I used Pages for writing, eLance for outsourcing drawings + formatting, Createspace and LSI for printing, and e-junkie for selling pdf versions on my website.

What’s next for you?

More books. Right now I can linearly turn a week’s work into $100-$200 recurring revenue + retain the intellectual property rights to use as I see fit.

Building a platform to help sell the books + let me sell new, video products.

If these take off at a high enough level, I’ll pay down debt I accrued in law school, then travel the world.


William Ghelfi

Bootstrap in PracticeTell us about your book.

My book, Bootstrap In Practice is a guide to help newcomers in getting productive with Bootstrap as fast as they can and avoiding getting stuck with the official docs or going too much in depth.

Where were you at in the book writing process before reading Authority?

I learned about Authority on launch day. 24 hours later I had read it and started to write my book.

How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?

I worked on on the book 2 hours per day, 3 days a week for the first two months. During the last month, I worked on it two hours on every launch break + 2 hours every night + 12 hours every week end.

All the time continuing my daily job.

What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?

Email list, personal blog with a couple epic posts, hacker news, twitter

How were the revenue and sales from the book?

With no preorders, I made 5k$ on launch day. After that, a couple days went like 200$ per day, and now, 20 days after, it’s 100 per week.

What would you do differently if you were launching another product?

I’d do guests posts and better state the intended audience for the product

What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?

There is always someone who knows less than you about a given topic, and who likes your peculiar way of sharing what you know.

What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?

Sublime Text with Markdown, Git, iBooks Author, Octopress, and Gumroad.

The day after launch, I set up a ConvertKit course for driving sales from the blog and outside the original email list.

What’s next for you?

I will try to further promote the book, some deals with AppSumo & C., but I also extracted a generic theme from my sales page and put it on WrapBootstrap for sale.

I originally intended to offer you a small additional package to sell with Authority, containing a sales page template, a wordpress theme, and a landing page all written with Bootstrap (the ones I used for my own book – except for the wp theme which would have been a conversion from Octopress)… But didn’t catch your attention on twitter so I decided to go on by myself on WrapBootstrap.


Christopher Walker

blackeditionipadTell us about your book.

My book is called Testosterone I/O, and it’s a step-by-step guide to naturally increasing your testosterone (without gels, medications, or injections).

I have a brain tumor that blocked my testosterone production for years and I ended up using my background in neuroscience and general interest in fitness & nutrition and naturally raised my own testosterone from 11 ng/dL to 1192 ng/dL, and have held it high since, by using certain research-based training, nutrition, and lifestyle actions.

So I wrote a book to teach other men how to do the same because so many men struggle with low testosterone and think gels and pharmaceuticals are their only option to raise it back to a point where they can have a healthy sex life and maintain muscle and not have so much stubborn body fat.

Where were you at in the book writing process before reading Authority?

I read Authority right at the beginning of the process.

I knew I wanted to write the book and I’ve been following Nathan’s blog for about 9 months, and saw how well he’s done, so when I made the decision to write the program I wanted to do it correctly and Authority seemed like a good investment.

How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?

It took me 4 weeks to write the content of the book.

I made it the #1 priority of my life right now, and just made sure to continue supporting my clients and maintaining a steady content flow on my blog and podcast at the same time.

But the book was, and still is, the focal point of what I am doing.

I downloaded the Commit app and set the goal of 1000 words per day, stringing together first 11 days, then 20 more, and by the end of that I had actually written 65,000 words – 50,000 of which made it into the book itself.

It’s funny because the small goal of 1000 would get me into a groove then I could just churn out the content. It definitely wasn’t easy though – I had a ton of internal resistance, but by making the program the #1 priority I really had nothing else to distract myself with.

I’ve always worked better when I “binged” on a project, so this makes sense I guess.

What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?

Well, at the time of writing this, I have not launched yet.

I decided to run a ‘beta launch’ (I’ve got some background in software so this felt natural & necessary) and Nathan encourages pre-orders, so I opened the book for pre-orders to my blog at a really big discount, and just closed those pre-orders.

I really like this approach for a couple reasons:

  1. It always helps to set a deadline and light a fire under your ass to get a project done on time, and when people are paying for pre-orders, you don’t want to let them down
  2. Pre-orders really helped me gauge the interest more accurately, and it turns out this is definitely a much-needed project for my readers.

I made some little mistakes, so now I have time to tweak them and iron things out before the bigger launch in a couple weeks.

In terms of how I promoted the pre-orders: I sent out a total of 4 emails to my list over that month, telling them that if anybody was interested, I was making this program and you can purchase a pre-order for a nice discount.

2 of those emails just mentioned it in the PS.

I also ran a post-series on natural testosterone optimization on my blog and used it as a chance to show people how high-quality of information I was going to provide.

The posts were enormous, I think totaling around 15-16k words all together, and they were very detailed and very helpful.

These are the four posts:

With these I was able to have new people see the content via social media since I’ve always gotten pretty solid engagement on Facebook because I’ve got great fans & friends.

In these posts I mentioned that if anybody was interested in hearing more about the book, they could sign up for an email list that will update them as I make progress on it, and I made sure to give them great newsletter content that I wasn’t sharing elsewhere.

Also, at the very end of pre-orders, with about 72 hours left before they closed, my buddy Mike Matthews of MuscleForLife.com published a guest post I wrote for MFL on natural T production.

He is a super successful author in his own right so he was happy to help me in my first launch, and for that I’m very thankful.  Here’s the guest post

I also mentioned it at the end of recording 2 podcast episodes for the Road To Ripped podcast that I record with my good friend Greg O’Gallagher of Kinobody.com.

We’ve been in the top-10 in health in iTunes a handful of times and have a highly intelligent, engaged audience so I wanted to mention that I was working on this project in case anyone wanted to learn more and set up the pre-order sales page with a Wistia video.

I’ve generally always felt pretty uncomfortable promoting myself and/or stuff, but I know this is good stuff so I’m trying to get over that insecurity. Nobody likes getting pitched all the time – I hate it when I feel like someone is just trying to sell me something, and I didn’t want to come off that way to our audience, so I made sure to use teaching as a way to mention the project as well, because I have no intention of being scammy.

I really care that people learn this stuff.

How were the revenue and sales from the book?

The revenue from pre-orders was $6k and they were open for 26 days. I’m very happy with it. That was with a $120 discount off the eventual price and I offered two different options, a ‘lite’ version and the full package, which I’m calling the ‘Black Edition,’ mainly because I think it’s a cool name.

Interestingly, only $500 of that total revenue came from the ‘lite’ option.

What would you do differently if you were launching another product?

Well, luckily I’m in the position to iron out the kinks before my official launch still. I’m doing a couple things:

  • I’m hiring a designer to polish the Indesign file and help me format the epub. I did the epub myself and I’m not happy with how it converted from the PDF.
  • I offered an audiobook version with this preorder, but I am going to nix it since it didn’t turn out as high quality as I wanted. I will wait and hire a professional voice actor to record it sometime in the future when I can afford it.
  • I’m making more videos – 30 total to be exact. Video is such a good way to engage with this content and learn, and it allows me to break it into bite-sized pieces, unlike the audiobook. A full video course is also very valuable in it’s own right. I’ll be posting it on udemy.com as well as selling it on its own domain/sales page.

What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?

  • Teach.
  • Do pre-orders to set a deadline and work out the kinks.
  • Begin building an email list via posts on your own blog as well as guest posts.

What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?

I used Google docs to write it, just making a folder structure for chapters and sections. It’s comfortable for me and low maintenance.

I blog on WordPress and have my email lists with Mailchimp.

Gumroad just rolled out the pre-order functionality which was very helpful and pretty painless, and I heard about them from Nathan.

What’s next for you?

Next up is the launch. I’m enjoying this so much though, and the subject matter is so interesting, that I’m starting an entire new blog specifically around this subject matter, and filming a webTV show as parts of my articles, while still hopefully turning the entire thing into a sustainable, valuable, helpful & fun business.


Iain Dooley

Screen_20shot_202013-04-10_20at_201.25.08_20PMTell us about your book.

“Your First 3 Months on AdWords” can teach you how to find and dominate an AdWords niche for your business in just 3 hours.

How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?

I wrote the text for the first draft in 1 day, and did the video tutorials in 1 week. Following that I did some promotion and sales, and collected a lot of feedback. It took about 6 months until I was able to make the time to update and properly launch the eBook because I went through a really busy period in my business, however when I finally got all my ducks in a row it only took another week to update the text, re-record the videos, then I paid a video editor and a designer to produce the final version. Since I’d already made a bunch of sales I was able to justify investing in making things look nicer the second time around and this saved me some time. Even though it was painful waiting so long between my initial “pre-order” launch, and the “final” launch, having it out for so long turned out to be a great thing because early adopters had time to put the methods into practice and provide feedback which ultimately improved the final product.

What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?

I did a lot of networking! In order to sell my pre-order version I used two primary channels: I taught a premium course on Mixergy.com about keyword research (based on the info in my eBook) and I did a deal on a website called bizzbuzz.com.au selling it at a discount. In total, I sold 78 copies. This helped me refine the content and gave me confidence in the material, that I was really delivering value and that it was worth continuing to develop it. Following initial launch my main strategy has been to line up guest post, affiliate an webinar opportunities. I’m teaching the “PPC day” in the upcoming “fired up and focused” course on copyhackers.com, and have a series of guest posts and a webinar lined up with them, too. I’m also teaming up to do a webinar with Ben Hunt from “web design from scratch”. I have a few other opportunities that are earlier stage so not something worth talking about yet. I’ve started using AdWords to promote the eBook and have some great opportunities, but I need to refine my lead generation/on-boarding process (at the moment the only thing you can do on the page is give me $297 or bounce so I need to redevelop my sales page so I can give something away initially and follow up via email).

How were the revenue and sales from the book?

I sold 78 copies of my pre-order version. I sold the pre-order version at $97 and sold 20 copies as a result of doing the Mixergy course. I sold 58 copies through my BizzBuzz deal at $59 but I only keep half of that so I got about $3,000 worth of pre-sales. This isn’t that large a figure but it has been a fantastic motivator in completing and launching the final version of my eBook. Since I was still doing other consulting work it would have been easy to let the publishing process “fall by the wayside” if I hadn’t have started promoting and selling it successfully.

What would you do differently if you were launching another product?

Nothing so far, it’s worked really well! Hopefully when I launch my next product I’ll have a bigger list of my own so I won’t have to rely so heavily on affiliate sales. I also haven’t done much in the way of content marketing yet my blog has one lonely post from several months ago but I have found that promotion via affiliates works well as a means of “borrowing credibility” from other people while you build up a reputation of your own.

What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?

The content marketing, opt-in and pricing package tactics. The sales I’ve made so far have largely been due to the channel I’ve sold in. Selling through affiliate channels is really different from selling “cold” traffic (for example from AdWords or via content marketing and organic SEO) so the advice on building these channels is fantastic and, I think, will prove invaluable in turning this resource not only into an ongoing revenue stream, but also into a source of leads for other areas of my business.

What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?

I wrote the original version as a markdown document and converted it PDF using whatever default styles come with the Linux command line markdown tool. I had a designer produce the final version (that I found on oDesk) and she used Microsoft Word, exported as a PDF. A big part of my product is the video tutorials. I used Screenflow to record them, with a condensor mic I bought from a local audio shop. I edited the first version of the videos myself, but it took a really long time so I paid someone else to edit the videos the second time around.

What’s next for you?

I have a bunch of opportunities for guest posts, affiliate deals, webinars and speaking gigs lined up over the next few months to promote the product. That’s my primary focus right now but over that time I’ll also be looking to refine the online sales process so that I can build more reliable marketing channels and develop ongoing sales revenue. One of the primary reasons I wrote this eBook was to establish myself as a subject matter expert in the online marketing industry so I could get bigger clients, and this has already happened this year with an increase in top line revenue as well as an increase in recurring monthly revenue from retainer arrangements.

logo-259x0.1360153263To complement my eBook resource I’m re-launching www.decalmarketing.com to promote AdWords training; so I have kind of a “3 pronged” approach of eBook, training and speaking, through which I hope to promote Decal Marketing as an expert online marketing agency and attract higher value clients over the next couple of years.


You’re next

What did you think after reading these stories? Is writing a book and becoming an authority something that interests you? In all of these examples each author is just getting started. These first launches are just the stepping stones to building a profitable audience and generating a full-time income from teaching.

It’s hard, but totally worth it. If you want to learn more about the specific tactics used by each of these authors, get your copy of Authority. Many of the authors above saw far more than a 10x return on their investment!



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9 Responses to “Authority Case Studies: $30,000+ in sales from first time authors”

  1. That is so awesome and inspiring. I have been working over three months on mine and I can safely say its almost ready!

    The biggest lesson out of this post would be to guest blog as often as you can before launch. Something I’m trying to do with the help of http://bloggerlinkup.com/.

    Also I think my one big problem will be I put to much time into the design and its a very brought topic. Check out erinwalker.me. Will launch the website within a week.

    Thanks Nathan.

  2. Very inspiring! I wrote a book which I am now selling through Amazon with very few sales (I did this just as a test to see how KDP works). I need to get Launch to learn how to take it to the next level.

  3. Michael Simpson says:

    Awesome as always. On the pre-orders – what exactly do customers get when they pre-order? A full draft of the book? And do they get a discount?

  4. Now that IS super awesome Nathan.
    I’ve bought your Authority some time back, and am working on Find Your Business eBook.
    The current landing page is at http://blog.momekh.com/store/fyb/

    Thanks again man, I will definitely follow up with you on this soon, God willing.
    Keep doin what you doin :)

  5. Hello Nathan,

    I came across your wonderful site from the article on Freelance Switch about making $12K with your first eBook. It is very inspiring.

    I came here to know more and leave inspired to work on my own eBook now. Have been thinking about it for months but couldn’t make time to work on it as I wasn’t sure about its sale value.

    You’re doing a great job here.

    ~ Chitra

  6. Giacomo Freddi says:

    Very interesting show cases..! They work very week as motivation to make my own e-book..! Thanks to share these stories..!

  7. Very inspiring stuff here. Enough to make me buy the book, which I am thoroughly enjoying …

  8. […] it up for pre-orders on my blog and used Nathan Barry’s Authority book launching program (highly recommended) to do a series of posts and a guest post on another big fitness blog to build the hype for the […]

  9. Awesome lessons… Thanks for sharing! I use Leanpub.com for pre-launch sales and it has done pretty well for me. I especially like their flexible pricing… A number of times a $10 minimum cost resulted in $20+ sales!

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