Yesterday I did a book launch. It greatly exceeded my expectations. I’ll tell you about it.
I’ve had the idea for a couple years about writing a book about Angular + Rails. My site AngularOnRails.com is pretty popular and it stands to reason that some of the visitors there might like to read a book on the topic. The reason I didn’t write such a book was because I didn’t want to invest several months in writing the book only to discover that no one wanted to buy it (or too few people). I’ve experienced that sad scenario several times already and I’m not eager to do it yet another time.
I also couldn’t conceive of any other way to make money with AngularOnRails.com. This changed at MicroConf in April. Tim Conley suggested to me that I offer paid courses on the site. I have no idea why that didn’t occur to me before. I shared the idea with Brecht Palombo and he suggested that I pre-sell the courses before investing the time in creating them. Good idea.
It took my a while to figure out what to do. The plan I came up with was to start with a book priced at maybe $49, then evolve that book into a $200 course, then evolve that course into a $500 course, then evolve that course into a $1000 course, and so on, keeping each tier in place as I develop the next tier. What I would end up with is what they call a “product ladder”. Customers start with some little free offering, then buy the cheapest thing, then buy a more expensive thing, etc.
Yesterday I opened the book up for presale. I wanted to strike an appropriate balance between “don’t prematurely optimize” and “don’t half-ass it”. I also had a very hard time believing anyone would buy the book, so I found it very difficult to muster the motivation to do anything more than half-ass it. So I pretty much half-assed it.
To my surprise, seven people bought the book. All seven bought the $39 tier meaning my total sales yesterday were $273. That’s nothing compared to the $5,000 or $10,000 book launches I read about, but for someone who has experienced so many utter failures over the years, I’ll gladly accept a $273 launch. I was already happy after just one person bought the book. When the second person bought, I couldn’t believe my luck. Four people had bought by the time I went to bed, and again I was completely satisfied with this number. When I woke up this morning I discovered that three more people had preordered the book yesterday for a total of seven.
A question I’m asking myself now is what are the next steps. Obviously, one of the next steps is to actually write the book and deliver it. Delivery is scheduled for September 1st. I believe I should also keep the blog posts rolling so I can keep my email list warm. (My email list is a little over 300 people now.) At some point I should also create a not-half-assed version of my sales page but I’m not sure where to prioritize that.
Lastly, I’d like to make an observation. It took me 18 months to make my first dollar with Snip, and after that, I never earned more than about $60/month for a very long time. AngularOnRails.com has been around since 2014 (and I’ve been writing various technical blogs forever) but I didn’t decide to turn it into this-is-my-next-full-blown-product-business-attempt until April of this year. So it took me about two and a half months to make my first dollar with AngularOnRails.com, and instead of $30/mo like my first month of Snip revenue, I earned $273 in a day. Time will tell what my monthly revenue will be like from here on out but I think the time it takes to make your first dollar says a lot.