Recently I was helping a friend to publish the ebook version of his paper book, called How to Start a Business in Taiwan. About 50% the reason was that I like the book and hoped to get into more people’s hands, and 50% I wanted to see what is it like getting an ebook out the door and bought by people.
Just a while ago, it had its first sale (hopefully the first of many:). *champagne!*
I guess it is a very humbling experience that it took some 5 days of promotion effort to make that sale. That is even before I count how much time I have spent converting the Word doc into Markdown, and tweak the looks. The technical details to that I have written up in a guest blog post on the books website.
The marketing side is still under development, and the numbers are too low to draw a lot of conclusions from. The most surprising thing to me is how many people actually click the “buy this book” link and then they don’t follow through. Then also the half a dozen people who I followed up on earlier discussion to tell them about the ebook version, they say “ah, it’s awesome, I’ll go get it, I’ve been waiting for it” – then nothing happens.
Of course, there can be a lot of reasons for this, here are some of my guesses:
- The website UX does not work well for them (ie. the are put off by the process)
- People don’t know/like Leanpub
- People are lazy
- The price is too high
- The sales copy is bad, so people don’t think a business book can worth that much for them (ie. price is perceived to be too high)
- Spreading the word at the wrong places, thus wrong audience
… and probably a hundred other reason that I wouldn’t think of – or 171, since the book’s page had that many unique visitors in the last few days who left empty handed. I wonder what would be a natural next step to improve on this conversion rate.
It was a very fun thing to do, though, and got me psyched up to get my two idea-stage books going. And about ebook publishing in general, will definitely try to get more people onboard who have writing tendencies.
Also, this invaluable learning, as I’m setting up my startup now, a good reminder that people will not easily/often buy into my “awesome” idea, will have to work cleverer on that. Rejection therapy in its earnest.
(Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the book, ie. I won’t get any of the sales, which makes things even nicer. I received one original paper copy last spring to review and edit.)