Today I’ve got another great book publishing case study for you. I can tell you all day long which tactics to follow, tools to use, and how to execute, but that’s not nearly as powerful as hearing it directly from the people who have put the advice into practice.
Balint wrote to me a couple weeks ago about the success he’s had with his new book on Ember.js after reading Authority.
Speaking of which, if you want to buy Authority to launch your own profitable publishing career, don’t wait. Today’s the last day to get all the new content at the old price.
Alright, onto Balint’s case study. I particular enjoy the Rock and Roll theme through the book and sales page. It’s a great way to make a technical topic more fun and light-hearted.
Tell us about your book in a couple sentences
My book, Rock and Roll with Ember.js, helps beginners “tame the dreaded learning curve” of the framework. It does this in a very pragmatic way, by leading the reader through the building of an actual Ember application, and introducing just one new concept in each chapter.
Where were you at in the book writing process before reading Authority?
Not totally sure, but I think that I only announced that I’d write the book but hadn’t written a single line of it yet. I had some of the material ready, though, since I made a screencast series where I built a more primitive version of the app developed in the book.
How long did it take you to write the book? How did you make time with your other work/projects?
Exactly six months have passed from the day that I announced the book until launch day. However, I did not start from scratch as I had made a screencast series and also extended the app built in the screencast in further blog posts.
I wrote most of the book mostly in the evenings and sometimes on Fridays which I usually reserve for non-client work. I wrote a few hours on the weekends as well, but about 70% of the book was written in the evenings.
What did you do to promote the book leading up to launch?
I’d made a screencast series and written blog posts on my own blog (and a couple other guest posts) to collect 896 emails before announcing I’d write the book.
Leading up to the launch I tried guest posting and personal promotion (conferences and the local Ember meetup). I also did a little promotion on Twitter.
How were the revenue and sales from the book?
I have three tiers. The low-tier contains just the book, the middle-tier grants access to the code above that and the high-tier includes 4 screencasts.
I did not have preorders but when I launched, I did not have a single one of the screencasts made, so the high-tier package was partially a preordered.
I did a 5-day launch period during which all packages were 25% off and my revenue was $6,175 at the end of the fifth day. After a month, I had $9,651.
It the second month (more or less), I had $1,951 of revenue and in the third month, $1,396.
However, I started to notice a sharp drop in the frequency of new purchases about 3-4 weeks ago. While before there was exactly one new purchase/day and there were high-tier sells, too, since then it’s more like one purchase every 2-3 days and it’s 70-80% the low-tier package.
Note from Nathan: Yep, I’ve seen this as well. During launch a much higher percentage of people will buy the top tiers. Over time that will skew in favor of the lower tiers.
What would you do differently if you were launching another product?
I would try to get more signups to my email list while I’m writing the book. The guest posts only brought in a meager number of new subscribers which I was quite bummed about but did not really know how to improve that funnel or come up with alternative ones.
I launched to 1,518 people which means that I collected 622 emails in during the 6 months I was writing the book. Part of the low number, I think, is due to the Ember community being small, but there is definitely room for improvement.
What were the most valuable lessons you learned from Authority?
How to generate excitement and lead up to launch day.
How to execute the last day before launch and then the launch itself, especially when it comes to involve your mailing list in reaching more people (“X is live, can you help?”).
How to generate a feeling of urgency. The trick to ask “influencers” for testimonials and have those on the sales page at lunch.
The fact that Gumroad exists (I absolutely love them!).
These are just the ones that come to mind, there is definitely more :)
What tools did you use to write, package, and sell your book?
I used Gitbook for the book’s structure and converting the original markdown to the epub & mobi formats (they do this through Caliber). I then switched to vim towards the end for writing the book.
I used middleman (a ruby static site generator) to generate the chapters in html and then to pdf.
I used Mailchimp for the email list and Gumroad for managing my products and payment.
What’s next for you? Another book? Retirement?
Ember changes very fast and I’d like to (in fact, I have to, I promised to my customers) keep the book up-to-date so that gives me a significant amount of work already.
I would like to come up with a way to increase my monthly revenue from the book and do a relaunch in the coming months (some time after Ember reaches 2.0). Then I’ll retire ;)
I love stories like this. A successful launch to a small audience. If Balint continues to build on this product and grow an audience around Ember.js he could turn blogging and products into a full-time living. He’s got the foundation in place (definitely check out his sales page).
When you’re ready to build your own audience and replicate Balint’s success, take a look at Authority:
You can still get the new course for the old price (until tomorrow).