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22 Comments

Launched The Embedded Entrepreneur, a book that I wrote in public with over 500 founders

Hey fellow Indie Hackers. I just published my second book, The Embedded Entrepreneur. It's the most actionable thing I have ever produced, and it is meant to guide founders through those terrifying initial steps of starting a business: finding out who you want to serve, where you can learn about their problems, and how to build a following among them.

Here is a little YouTube launch video:

The Launch Video

Aside from being extremely practical, this book has another thing going for it: I co-wrote it with hundreds of other founders and Indie Hackers. Here's the story so far:

Last year, after releasing Zero to Sold in late June 2020, people immediately started to give me feedback on that book. One thing that I heard about more than anything else was that while people understood that starting with your audience instead of your idea makes a lot of sense, they didn't know how to do it. Who should they pick? How could they learn about their problems? Where did their future customers even hang out?

I heard those questions repeated in my conversations with mentees and consulting clients. At some point, I felt obligated to develop a framework so that I could give my mentees a structured approach.

I came up with a 5-step guide, and I tested it out with a handful of mentees. It immediately clicked. They finally had the tools for methodically considering all sorts of potential target audiences and find the critical problems by observing their communities. Within a few weeks, most of my mentees had found focus where before was chaos and too much optionality.

This guide turned into a Medium article I wrote for Better Programming in September 2020 that went into detail for each of the five steps, including questions to ask yourself and examples of how to find the required information. Readers loved that article, and I republished it on my blog and found that it attracted a lot of new visitors.

Over the next few weeks, I considered if this could be something bigger than a popular blog post. Since questions about how to find and build your audience were the most common ones I received, I decided to let my Twitter followers know and involve them from the start — after all, they were my community and my future readers. That happened in October 2020. The book was initially titled "Audience First."

I later changed the title to The Embedded Entrepreneur after an intense Twitter conversation with my followers about what "audience-first" meant to them. It was very exciting at that point to get this direct feedback at all stages of writing the book. But little did I know that the most intense feedback was going to appear soon after that.

I launched a landing page where I wrote about what I wanted to write about and asked people to do two things:

  • send me the topics and questions they would like to see addressed
  • sign up to be an Alpha Reader — someone who'd be willing to read the rough first drafts

I shared this all over the community. The response was incredible: hundreds of people signed up for my Alpha Reader list within just a few days. Overall, over 550 readers were interested in the early manuscript. I never expected such a response.

Once I had all those hopefuls in an email list, I looked around for good collaboration solutions. People usually go with Google Docs, but I wanted something better. I stumbled onto Help This Book, a project by Rob Fitzpatrick (author of The Mom Test and Write Useful Books) and Devin Hunt (co-authored The Workshop Survival Guide with Rob). I immediately loved the product: it was built by two authors who needed beta readers for their work, so they built the tool to do it.

https://embeddedentrepreneur.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Screenshot-2021-02-21-at-12.25.02.png

The HelpThisBook.com interface makes it super easy to collect reader feedback.

I was onboarded within just a day, and had my book up on Help This Book within minutes. I wrote my first email to a few dozen Alpha Readers and invited them onto the platform. Every day for a few weeks, I invited a few more people. Every few weeks, I took the comments and the suggestions from my Alpha Readers and adjusted the manuscript. Once I reached version 0.4, I was happy with the book and sent it off to a professional editor for the final steps.

During all of this, I ran a 99designs contest to find a good book cover. With the help of my Twitter audience and my Alpha Readers, I found a wonderful cover among all the many designs. It was particularly enjoyable to see people give their raw and honest impressions.

https://embeddedentrepreneur.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Screenshot-2021-03-15-at-16.56.16.png

So here I was at the end of April when my editor handed over the final version of the manuscript: I had written a book in public, with hundreds of people making the book better along every step of the way.

And now it's here.

https://embeddedentrepreneur.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/IMG_2593.jpg

I'll share more about the technical details of publishing this book at a later point. For now, I am eternally grateful to the Indie Hacker community for supporting me in writing this book. An audience-centric book, centered around interactions with its future reader audience. Quite the meta project.

You can learn more about the book on https://embeddedentrepreneur.com/.

The Twitter launch thread can be found here. If you want to help me spread the word, please like, comment on, or retweet that thread. It will make a big difference.

Any questions? Let me know here! 🥰

  1. 5

    Congratulations Arvid! First time hearing of the book, and really impressed by the work and effort you've put into it.

    I just bought the eBook bundle.

    The only thing I was wondering (pre-purchase) was if there was somewhere I might be able to read a sample chapter or introduction. Something to consider, but no big deal.

    All the best with it!

    1. 2

      That's a good idea. I'll need to add that to the book landing page!

      Thank you very much for everything!

  2. 4

    I'll just leave this here (and say congrats one more time)

  3. 4

    Congrats, love seeing how this has all come together.

    I've ordered the hard copy. 😍

    1. 2

      Thanks, Rosie. It'll be a beautiful addition to any bookshelf (and brain!)

  4. 4

    Bought it! Will start reading tonight 🥳

    1. 2

      Thank you so much Kyle :D

  5. 4

    Congrats on the launch Arvid! Definitely will be picking this up as soon as I finish reading Zero to Sold.

  6. 3

    Very cool! Congrats!

  7. 3

    I love how you practiced what you preached with the creation of this book. You literally asked your audience what they were looking for and then built it just like your book suggest others do. Congratulations on your launch, will have to pick one up shortly. If you have any free time, would love to have you on my podcast to talk about your book more and some more about your own journey !

    1. 3

      Thanks! I'd love to be on the show :D Hit me up at [email protected] :D

      1. 2

        Will be emailing you shortly, thanks Arvid!

  8. 3

    Thanks for sharing Arvid.

    I just posted about starting with the audience of people who have a need for custom development of code but can't afford the traditional cost. Working backwards to see how to best reach and serve them. So this is timely.

    Looking through your blog post and podcast on this and will check out the book!

    1. 2

      Sweet, and best of luck!

  9. 3

    The legendary @arvidkahl showing us how to do it properly -- epic stuff.

    P.S. If anyone wants EVEN MORE ARVID, I'm co-hosting a little interview/celebration with him about the book, the process, the learnings, and whatever else pops up, today at 17:00 CET / 11:00 ET / 20:30 IST. It'll be on Twitter Spaces, so just keep an eye on Arvid's twitter to hop in and join us.

    1. 2

      I am VERY MUCH looking forward to that :D

  10. 3

    Wow, huge congratulations! This topic is right up my street and something I've been looking for answers to for a while, so I'm really looking forward to reading this! Is there a plan to make an audiobook version too? 😊

    1. 3

      Yeah, but that might take a few weeks. Producing THAT involves a lot of people, and that takes time :D

      1. 2

        Amazing, best of luck with that as well! I'm sure it will be a huge success too 🥳

  11. 1

    you should check out "The Indie Author" by @jasraj, he's following a similar launch strat

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