Books used to be hard to publish. 20 years ago, publishing a book was a team activity for well-connected or well-funded authors. Think about it, a physical book requires:
But now those constraints are gone.
Today, anyone can publish and distribute a book online in seconds. And as a bonus, you can build your own bookstore and keep all of your sales. That’s exactly what Daniel Vassallo did.
Coming up with a topic for a book can be a daunting task, especially if you didn’t go to journalism school or prepare for a career as an author. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
At its core, a book is really just an exchange of money for knowledge. You might pay $20, and in return you get instant access to someone else’s knowledge. That’s all it is.
The good news is that everybody knows something that others want access to. Picking a book topic is just about matching what you know with what other people want to know.
That’s exactly how Daniel came up with the idea for his first e-book. After 8 years of working at Amazon, he had learned a ton about the products Amazon offers.
One of those products is called Amazon Web Services (AWS). So Daniel decided to brain dump all of his AWS knowledge into one practical guide, called ‘The Good Parts of AWS’.
If you think of a book as an exchange of money for knowledge, the Internet is what eliminates the friction of the exchange. This happens in two ways.
It’s a win-win for online publishers, and this makes publishing a book online a no-brainer.
Especially if you know how to build your own audience. A social media following is exactly how Daniel was able to avoid competition and sell his product directly to the buyers who wanted it.
Think of your internet audience as the shoppers in a bookstore. The first step to selling a book is to get more buyers in the store. Whether it’s on Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, or with an email newsletter, growing an audience is the fastest way to ensure a successful book launch.
The good news is that growing an organic following isn’t rocket science, and anyone can do it. The bad news? It’s not going to happen overnight.
Just a few months ago when Daniel published his AWS book, he had just over 10k followers on Twitter, but today he’s up to over 35k people following him.
Luckily, Daniel created a step-by-step guide on how he built his social media following so you can learn from his successes and mistakes.
Once you have a book and an audience, you’re ready to sell.
Gumroad has paid 40,000 creators over $300 million for their digital and physical products. But the main reason I recommend Gumroad for any independent creator is because of the low selling fees.
Gumroad offers sellers two tiers:
The way the math works out is that if you’re doing more than $200 of sales each month, you will keep more money with the paid tier.
Gumroad isn’t the only platform for selling your online books, but it is the simplest option. Other popular ways to sell a book online include:
Your book release only happens once, so it’s important to make the most of the opportunity to share your work with the world.
Having an existing audience will help you get some sales for your new book, but to truly maximize your online book launch, it’s important to find new audiences too.
How do you find new audiences to share your upcoming e-book with? There are a few ways.
Gumroad has a useful feature that allows you to create a pre-sale for your online book.
By announcing your book in advance and accepting pre-orders, you can effectively turn a single book release into two.
Daniel announced his AWS book a few weeks before its release, and collected $5,500 of pre-sale revenue from it.
Product Hunt is a website for sharing your product launch with the world. Every day, people vote on their favorite products - generating a storm of revenue and new followers for independent creators.
Ben Tossell created an excellent guide on best practices for making a launch announcement on Product Hunt.
Reach out to the important people in your industry and offer them a copy of your new book.
If they enjoy it, ask them to share it with their audience. This can be a great strategy for those without a large audience of their own.
Gumroad also has a built-in affiliate program, so you can reward influencers with a portion of your product sales. This means you can multiply your sales efforts and incentivize your influencers to promote your product.