Money July 6, 2020

Zero to Sold: 1000+ Books Sold in 7 Days. Here are the numbers.

Arvid Kahl @arvidkahl

It has been exactly 7 days since I launched my book Zero to Sold. I launched it to my audience on Twitter last Monday, and I've been tracking and sharing sales metrics for every day in the main launch Tweet.

This is the full sales, engagement, and metrics report of week one of my self-published book.

  • Books sold so far: 997 Books
  • Overall revenue for Zero to Sold so far: ~\$8443,26

These are my sales, by channel:

  • Amazon: ~\$4,328.89

  • Gumroad: \$3772.58

  • Draft2Digital: ​\$109.39

  • Amazon Affiliate: ~​\$232,80

  • All combined = ~ \$8443,26

1. Amazon KDP (Kindle + Paperback)

The best-performing platform, even with paperback sales still not being completely reported (as they only count when shipped). I will need to work on getting reviews. That's the best way for the book to be found. I also expect that continuous sales will improve the ranking over time. This is a long-term play for me, I am not stressed about any dips here.

The US Amazon platform far outperforms all others. Happy to see many people being able to buy a paperback version from "neighboring" Amazon stores. Still, Australia and many other countries were only able to buy the Kindle version, if at all.

Amazon KDP Report

Amazon KPD Reports #2

Amazon Sales

2. Gumroad (MOBI, ePub, ePDF)

@Gumroad performed excellently. You can see all the non-Amazon countries being well represented here. Purchases have calmed down a lot. I will need to work on discoverability, and then reviews and ratings. Gumroad is hard to advertise for, as it is a very specific platform, and unlike Amazon, is not the go-to source for books. But it worked super well as an alternative to Amazon, particularly for privacy-minded readers and those who needed a PDF or ePub version.

Gumroad Report

3. Draft2Digital (eBook only)

Sales almost negligible here, as I published the eBook there only the day before the launch. It made it into the Apple Books store hours into the launch, and that store has long cache timers. I don't expect to sell too much through this channel.

Draft2Digital distributes eBooks to all kinds of stores. I sold 3 books on the Kobo. I don't even know what the Kobo is. That's pretty awesome!

D2D Report

4. Amazon Affiliate & Advertisement

I have had affiliate links through Amazon OneLinkon my blog for a while. I completely forgot about that! Once the book page was public, the links there automatically counted against affiliate revenue. I got paid twice!

Amazon Affiliate

That's it for the sales figures. With the lagging sales for paperbacks, I assume that the first week of the book launch will have generated somewhere between \$9,000 and \$10,000 in pre-tax revenue. An absolute success for a book that I intend to sell for a long time.

I purposely did not do any paid advertisement so far, neither on Twitter, Reddit, or Product Hunt. I DID run an Amazon ad campaign, very low-key, to see how it would perform. Spent under \$8, got \$60 in sales. Looks good, but will need to observe.

Amazon Ads

There were a few other notable things. The launch week contained a number of very sweet and unexpected events. I noticed a few times how much I underestimated having built a following on Twitter.

5. Twitter Growth

Here is my follower count. You can see that the growth has been steady, but linear. The launch kicked that up a notch and catapulted me into 5000+-follower-territory. The tool used is @AudienseCo.

Twitter Growth

Clearly, having built an audience before the launch has been instrumental for giving my launch tweet the velocity to turn into something semi-viral. It has naturally occured through engaging with the community and sharing my content since November. That's the number one reason why my book has had the success it had: the people who made it all happen. And they made something happen that suprised me even more.

6. The ProductHunt Launch

I never launched anything on @ProductHunt. But with the help of my followers here, Zero to Sold made it to the #1 Product of the Day on Tuesday and ended the day at #2. ZtS was then mentioned in the PH newsletter, driving more traffic. Biggest spike to my blog I have ever seen.

I had scheduled the launch a few days before, adding a nice description and an image of Danielle and I in China while we ran the business. I set the launch time to 00:05 PST, and it went live. I woke up 45 min later in Germany, at 09:50 local time. I shot off a tweet with the link and went into my first mentoring call of the day. 60 minutes later, the book was #1 on ProductHunt and stayed there for over 17 hours.

It was mind-blowing.

ProductHunt

7. The Bootstrapped Founder Blog Traffic

The tweet performiung well and the Producthunt traffic resulted in over 15,000 views to my blog this month, where the Zero to Sold page is ultimately hosted. Incredible. @WordPress handled it without a hiccup, of course.

Blog Weekly

Blog Daily

8. Newsletter Growth

That traffic lead to a lot of newsletter signups, something I hadn't even planned for. Subscriber counts jumped from 1500 to 2200 this week. That is so incredibly valuable!

It's valuable because many of the people who signed up may or may not have bought the book. Now, I can (unobtriusvely) remind them of either buying the book or giving it a review and rating on Amazon, which I really need to grow sales. That's an amazing opportunity.

Newsletter Growth

9. Amazon Bestseller Within Hours

In addition to the #1 spot on @ProductHunt, Zero to Sold also immediately jumped into #1 Bestseller and then #1 New Release in the 'Startups' and 'Small Business' section. I don't consider myself a best-selling author just yet, but this is such an amazing feeling.

Bestseller Startups

New Release Startups

At the time of me writing this, it's still a #1 New Release.

10. The Initial Tweet

It all started with a single Tweet. The engagement on the launch tweet is off the charts for what I usually get. 162,000 impressions and 1(!) person following me directly from the Tweet !

Launch Tweet Engagement

##11. The Icing On the Cake

The deal was getting even sweeter when @SimpsonDaniK made this wonderful cake to commemorate the launch of Zero to Sold. She is the reason the book exists, and I could not have done it without her — both the writing as well as building the business that the book is based on!

The Cake

12. Thank You

It has been an incredible week for me, full of support, love, encouragement, and learnings. I am grateful beyond words, and I hope that sharing the details of the launch and how I set it up will help other authors and founders to make an even bigger splash! Being transparent with my sales figures has also given me the opportunity to keep records that I can revisit later. It's been quite a blur!


I want to thank every single person who reads this. No matter if you bought the book, checked it out, or are learning about it the first time, I am honored that you spend your valuable time on my work. I certainly know how busy we founders can get.

And that leads me to the things that have not yet happened. My next steps are to create an audiobook version of the book that will live on Audible and make the print version more accessible globally through IngramSpark, who have priting facilities world wide, most notably in Australia, where Amazon does not.

I will also start talking about the book a bit more on podcasts and share the lessons within. I've already scheduled quite a few, but I'm still open for more ;)

I'll also keep producing my regular content. A newsletter, article, and podcast episode every week. Just like before. If you have a topic you'd like me to talk and write about, don't hold back — let me know!

I will continue to post revenue and metrics reports about the book on a weekly basis from now on. Monday will be metrics day. Thank you, again, SO MUCH.

---- Edit:

Since I started writing all this, sales have climbed over 1000. I've now sold ten times as many books as I expected in my first week.

You can find more about Zero to Sold on my blog and at
zerotosoldbook.com

  1. 2

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

  2. 2

    Amazing post and thank you for the transparency!

  3. 2

    Congrats Man!, im interest your book now

    1. 1

      Sweet, I'm so happy you're checking it out!

      1. 2

        i've purchased your book today, and very nice, thanks for sharing

        1. 1

          Thank you so much, it's so appreciated!

  4. 2

    Congrats, Arvid!
    Also thank you for sharing the numbers

    1. 1

      Thanks. It's really neat to see all of those numbers in one place. And I hope this encourages others to share theirs as well.

  5. 2

    Congratulations, Arvid!! Such a detailed and inspiring post. Excited to follow the long term success of this product!

    You are doing great work to make indie hacking even more wide spread :)

    1. 1

      Thank you, and I absolutely hope that this book or even the story behind it will encourage more people to start their own entrepreneurial journey,

  6. 2

    👏👏👏

    I'm curious if you have any tips for the KDP side of things? Suggestions for setup, things to look out for, or resources that you found useful?

    1. 3

      I've done about $300k in royalties via KDP and would basically say that it's good and easy. The paperback is just a couple PDFs which is printed and bound after someone buys it. They have a fiddly--but free and decent--tool for ebook prep (or use Scrivener or Vellum or whatever).

      In terms of possible gotchas, you get 70% ebook royalties if it is priced at $9.99 or below and only 35% if it's higher than that, so you want to hit the 70%. The paperbacks fees are a flat cost (based on page count) plus a percent. My paperbacks work out to about 60% royalties (compared to an average 12% from publishers).

      Sales analytics are immediate, but royalties get paid out at the end of two months later. You don't have to pay VAT on it. You can route royalties from different countries into different bank accounts, so I keep mine in a mix of euro/dollar/pound accounts to avoid extra currency conversions and to (slightly) hedge currency risk.

      KDP's phone support is shockingly good. Not at all what you would expect from Amazon and surprisingly pleasant to deal with. I've called them a bunch of times to help resolve little edge cases and frictions.

      Amazon's PPC ads are excellent and well-integrated into the KDP analytics dashboard. Don't bother with Kindle lock screen ads (at least for nonfiction, and at least according to my testing), but the PPC ones are great (basically search ads and related products). One interesting gotcha is that the ad dashboard reports ACOS (average cost of sale) as a percentage of Amazon's revenue, when you're probably interested in it as a percentage of your royalties -- so don't attempt to scale ads if they appear only slightly profitable (e.g. <30%).

      You can pre-sell a kindle version, but not a paperback. If you miss the launch deadline you can move it once, but they remove your prelaunch priviledges for a year afterwards as punishment.

      Uploading new cover or innards takes a couple days to process since they manually review it. (I was fairly disappointed by this since I was really hoping to do continuous deployment for books.)

      Going Kindle Exclusive (for the ebook) unlocks extra advertising and discounting options -- fiction authors make heavy use of it (discounting the first book in their series to bring in new readers), but I skipped it for nonfiction since it doesn't seem to benefit single titles as much, and because I wanted to be able to sell the PDF directly via my sites.

      The only other "major" choice is whether to get your own ISBN and set up your own imprint. It costs a couple hundred bucks and a little bit of fiddling, but is probably worthwhile since otherwise you can tagged under "Createspace" as the publisher, and enough folks are releasing crappy books under their default imprint that it might have some brand contagion. I used the default Createspace imprint as the easy option on my first two books, but it's something I'll do differently next time.

      Happy to answer other questions if you have them ([email protected]), but that's the main top-of-mind observations about it. It's very low-hassle and does what it says on the tin.

      1. 1

        Woah, thanks so much for the detailed response here, Rob, there is barely anything I can add to this at this point.

        Getting your own ISBN and not opting into the exclusive stuff is an important point. KDP is responsible for 60% of the sales I made in week one, and not being able to sell through Gumroad/Draft2Digital would have cost me dearly.

      2. 1

        Super useful reply, thanks Rob!

  7. 2

    Awesome Arvid! Congratulations and keep inspiring the rest of us. Love the cake :)

    1. 1

      That was absolutely a most delicious surprise :D

      Thanks for the kind words!

  8. 2

    Congratulations Arvid, that's such a great achievement, and it's been amazing to watch for the past week. I hope this traction continues for you and wish you the best of luck on your future.

    1. 2

      Thank you very much, Michael! Truly appreciated!

  9. 1

    Do you have any follow-up updates? I'm curious to know how it's going now. I love following your story.

  10. 1

    wow, huge congrats. the book looks awesome (it's clear you put your <3 + soul into it, and it's added to my 'list'), and it's great to see that you've had a decent launch :)

    can I ask if you did any other promotion, aside from what you've mentioned in this post?

    also, the cover looks awesome. may I ask who designed that?

    (i'm currently putting my 1st book together, planning on releasing it later this year 🤞)

    1. 1

      Thanks so much! So far, I have not done any other promotion. I also designed the cover myself, with a lot of help/instruction/intervention from Danielle, who has a much better eye for design than I have.

      1. 1

        Thanks Arvid. This is super-inspirational. Luckily, I've found a great cover designer too.

        ps. you might also be interested in @swyx's similar case study -> book + launch

Recommended Posts