Growth January 3, 2020

ebook update: 1st week sales of $30K

Daniel Vassallo @dvassallo

Hey Indie Hackers 👋

Last week I announced the release of a self-published technical ebook, which I'm marketing mostly on Twitter: Now that a full week has passed, I wanted to share some new performance data from the book's first week on the market.

Total sales:        $31,495
Copies sold:          1,126
Refunds:                 10 (0.8%)
Landing page views:  27,591
Conversion:              4%

Most of the sales came from my Twitter, but I also had some success with other social media sites.

Source         |   Copies Sold  |    Sales
Twitter        |           578  |  $16,145 (51%)
Other          |           317  |   $8,882 (28%)
Hacker News    |           152  |   $4,256 (14%)
Reddit         |            60  |   $1,680 (5%)
Indie Hackers  |            19  |     $532 (2%)
Total          |         1,126  |  $31,495

As for pricing, I was initially taking pre-orders at $24 (since October), but when the book was finished, $24 started to feel too low for all the content it had. So, on launch day, I raised the price to $38, but all the links I put out had a $10 discount. So far, all the sales at $38 seem to have come from search traffic.

Price          |   Copies Sold  |    Sales
$28            |           806  |  $22,568
$24            |           226  |   $5,424
$38            |            91  |   $3,458
$15            |             3  |      $45
Total          |         1,126  |  $31,495

And the book found its way to 76 countries. Here are the top 25:

Country        |   Copies Sold  |    Sales
United States  |           426  |  $11,974 
(blank)        |           221  |   $6,117 
UK             |            73  |   $2,068 
Canada         |            38  |   $1,066 
India          |            30  |     $850 
Australia      |            30  |     $844 
Netherlands    |            19  |     $516 
Germany        |            18  |     $494 
Spain          |            18  |     $484 
Ireland        |            16  |     $452 
France         |            16  |     $450 
Russia         |             9  |     $262 
Singapore      |             9  |     $240 
Poland         |             8  |     $240 
Malaysia       |             8  |     $226 
Italy          |             8  |     $220 
Denmark        |             8  |     $212 
Japan          |             7  |     $192 
Finland        |             7  |     $184 
Mexico         |             6  |     $178 
Other          |            51  |   $3,322
Total          |         1,126  |  $31,495

This is the first time I got paid for something I wrote, so I'm still very new to this "profession". But I'm happy to share what I learned so far, so please feel free to ask me anything.

Link to the book:

  1. 3

    Hey Daniel, great job on those sales numbers - goes to show that small niches can have big profits.

    Now, I have 2 questions:

    • Do you know (or have a ballpark estimation) for your total market size? If so, did you calculate it before starting to write the e-book?
    1. 1

      Thank you! — In theory the total market size for this is probably huge. For example, the AWS account on Twitter has 1.8M followers. But I think what was more important was my distribution. I have 14K followers on Twitter, and many are technical people, so that’s where I got most of the sales from. Either from my followers directly, or from my followers spreading the word.

      But when I started this, it was just an experiment. I was willing to do it even if it turned out nobody bought a copy. I would have been disappointed, but it would have been fine. This outcome was definitely better than what I imagined for the best case scenario though, so very satisfied.

      1. 1

        That's an incredible market-size. Much larger than I thought.

        Have you ever considered trying some paid promotion to see if you can scale the sales of your e-book?

        At first glance, your super high organic conversion rate tells you really have a winning product.

        1. 1

          I’m going to try some, just out of curiosity. I’m not very optimistic thought. I suspect the ad prices will be too high for the conversions I’ll get, but we’ll see.

          1. 1

            Maybe worth trying a Promoted tweet for AWS followers

            1. 1

              I’m a bit reluctant on Twitter because I don’t want it to look spammy. My tweets already got >400K organic impressions, and AFAIK there’s no way to promote a tweet only to those that haven’t seen it . (Which is quite incredible.)

          2. 1

            I think advertising prices will be low because you already know your product converts very well organically - and since it's a digital product, any sale is essentially profit.

            I just checked and there are 1,800,000 users interested in Amazon Web Services on Facebook, and this is only in the United States.

            Reaching those users would be pretty economical, and since you already have 20+ five star reviews, the social proof is settled (meaning selling will be even easier).

            If you want, I can help you - I run e-commerce ads for a living, and your e-book really has a lot of potential.

  2. 2

    Killer results Daniel -- really nice. Shows what can happen when you do a good job of solving a problem that matters.

    And on an only semi-related note, if anyone else is interested in writing & self-publishing this sort of book (i.e. problem-solving non-fiction), I have some notes about my scoping/design/testing process for books which I'd be glad to have some extra early eyes on. Shoot me a note if it's relevant for you.

    1. 1

      Hey @robfitz,

      I'm in the process of outlining an ebook, would love to take a look at your notes and provide feedback. Are they online somewhere?

  3. 1

    How did you go about growing your Twitter audience?

  4. 1

    Thanks for sharing the info. What are your plans on updating information for people who have already purchased the book. Do you think a monthly newsletter would be sufficient or do you think there is potential to add a monthly/quarterly/yearly fee if the information is beneficial. A small recurring fee would keep you motivated to deliver the most recent, relevant content to your audience that is also in their best interest.

  5. 1

    Awesome job. Thanks for posting data.

  6. 1

    Nice results!

    Please launch a team license, it will do wonders for your sales!

    1. 2

      Thank you. It’s coming very soon. The only reason it’s not there yet is because of a technical issue with Gumroad. (I’m trying to avoid creating a separate product.) They should have it fixed in a few days.

      1. 1

        Awesome! Will sponsor you in my company.

        I have seen you have released a preview of the content on twitter, surely will help getting more sales 👍

        1. 1

          Finally released the team license: 🙏

  7. 1

    Hi Daniel, you are on a role and you thoroughly deserve it!

  8. 1

    Looks solid! congrats on your hardwork!

  9. 1

    Congrats! Never would've expected an eBook about AWS to do that well.

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