It’s one year tomorrow since I released the first Changes in Genesis book, on the same day as Genesis 2.0 came out. This was my first experience of selling a product. I’ve not made my millions off of it, unfortunately, but I wanted to share some numbers anyway.
I launched the book via Leanpub. This is both an authoring / self-publishing and selling platform. I wrote the book in Markdown as Leanpub supports this and most parts of kramdown too). The files are saved to a Dropbox folder shared with Leanpub, and then I hit a button on the website to have it generate the PDF, EPUB and MOBI for both the main book and sample book. It then emailed me with the results, including any errors. Leanpub takes 10% + $0.50 per sale, so that leaves me with roughly 90% of the sale price. Amazon gives 70% at best and traditional book publishers are much lower.
According to Leanpub:
- Number of Happy Readers: 183
- Number of Happy Paid Purchases: 138
- Number of Free Purchases: 45
- Number of Refunds: 5 (2.7%)
- Total Author Royalties: USD $3,729.44 (approximately GBP £2,214.84)
The large amount of free purchases are due to me promising my mailing list that they would get it free. This was a mistake on my part, but a promise is a promise, so I followed through with it.
The refunds are from customers who didn’t understand what the content of the book covered. This was despite there being a free Sample book available that gives a good indication. Some wanted information on specific aspects of Genesis, beginner or advanced, and not a list of changes between one version and the next.
Leanpub allow a variable price to be set. The book was priced at a minimum of $29.99, with a suggested price of $34.99. The highest I got was $50! With the use of discount codes (some for 100% discount) the average royalty (i.e. after Leanpub takes it’s cut) per sale was just over $20. Without the 100% discounts, but including the launch offer and mailing list special offer discounts, the average was just over $27 per sale.
Leanpub gives it’s own summary of numbers too:
Your minimum price is $29.99, which produces a royalty of $26.49. You have 138 happy paying readers. If everyone had paid the minimum price (excluding any coupons), the book would have earned $3,655.76 in royalties. Instead, the book has earned $3,729.44 in royalties. This is $73.68 extra earned because of the Leanpub variable price feature, in which your book has a minimum price, suggested price and sliders. This additional amount is 1.98% extra!
Put another way: the total amount of revenue (subtracting nothing!) your book would have earned if everyone had paid the minimum price would have been $4,138.62. Instead, the total royalties are $3,729.44. Pretty good, if you ask us!
What about Apple and Amazon? Well, the best you can earn there is 70%* royalty, and they don’t have variable pricing. So, if you had earned a 70% royalty on your minimum price, you would have earned **$2,897.03, which is $832.41 less than the royalties which have been earned on Leanpub!
But what about refunds? Well, you’ve had 5 refunds because of our unconditional 45-day refund policy. This is a minimum of $132.46 of royalties given up, at the royalty based on the minimum price. But you’ve earned $73.68 extra because of the Leanpub variable price feature. So, when you think about the Leanpub storefront experience as a whole package, you could have 2 refunds before our 45-day refund policy would start actually “costing” you anything on the next refund, even with the (probably false) assumption that there would have been no chargebacks or other types of refunds on other platforms.)
As I launched Changes in Genesis 2.1, I started selling from my own site instead. I’m using Easy Digital Downloads with several premium and free extensions. I tried several different methods of generating the book file formats from Markdown, but eventually settled on Pandoc. That’s a program written in Haskell which is run via the command line. I had some difficulty in getting it setup how I wanted it, but the upshot is that I have more control over the final appearance of each format (Leanpub is relatively limited in the designs of the PDF for instance), and I don’t have to give 10% of each sale away. I could also then use my own affiliate setup (Affiliate WP) and run discount codes on whatever combination of products I wanted. With the plan to be selling more books in the future, I considered this investment in time and structure to be worthwhile.
Naturally I started selling Changes in Genesis 2.0 on my site as well, both as a single product, and as part of a Changes in Genesis Bundle along with the latest book. I wasn’t sure how much the Bundle was going to sell, but with a significant discount compared to the sum of the individual books, I’ve sold a few since I opened the store last month (12 to be exact). None of the individual 2.0 book have sold so far, which makes sense as Genesis 2.1 is now out, so the information is somewhat redundant (though still useful).
To celebrate the first birthday of the Changes in Genesis series of guides, I’m offering a discount of 30% for all three products in the Changes in Genesis series (2.0, 2.1 and the Bundle) that is valid for today and tomorrow only! Use the code CHANGESBIRTHDAY at the checkout to receive the discount.