Three Percent

After two weeks of downloads, my eBook PWYW held firm at 3%. There were 1200 downloads by last Thursday night (after I went in and removed all duplicate IPs from my lists) and donations averaged $7 dollars. So that worked out to about $250. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great.

How do I think it compares to ‘real’ ebook selling? Well, that’s hard to judge. If I’d posted on Amazon, it would have been in my best interest to sell the book cheaper. Books priced under $2.99 get a 35% royalty (70% if you’re willing to limit where you can buy the book), so an selling an ebook for $0.99 makes me $0.35. If 1200 people downloaded from Amazon, my money would have been doubled. That’s assuming people would have downloaded it from there. Actually, that’s assuming it would be found there.

There are about 350 ebooks that show up when I search the Kindle site for WordPress (and a whopping 2 for WordPress Multisite). And while I could re-release my book there (you can always grant exceptions to the CC license, I could give myself one), I’d have to get over that hurdle of DRM. It’s the same problem with iTunes. I have to get an ISBN, sign a bunch of tax agreements… And then you’re limited to what you can do with the book! There are alternatives, like lulu.com, which lets you release a book without DRM.

That actually rankles me more than the money. I’d rather make less money and keep freedoms. Yeah, I’m a socialist hippie eco blah blah fishcakes person. Deal with it. The freedoms of WordPress are what got me this smart. It isn’t right to just take and not give. I’m not the only one who feels this way. And funny enough, it’s Amazon’s fault that we got this way.

So once I’m committed to cutting out the middleman, I have to do my own advertising.

I got a lot of traffic when Weblogtools CollectionsWPTavernWP Ninjas, and the WPmail.me folks linked to me, giving me some of the biggest traffic I’ve had. More than when Matt linked to me, which is amusing. The advertising I did on my sites, blogging about it on my personal and tech site, as well as tweeting a few times and posting on Google Plus. I purposefully did not post on the WordPress forums about it (but I won’t stop anyone from doing that) because it’s against forum policy to advertise. On the other hand, it’s okay to post links to tutorials on your personal site. I could probably argue it both ways but in the interest of fairness, I decided not to mess with it.

My options for the sequel (there’s another 100 pages or so sitting on my laptop right now, yeah, there’s a lot to talk about!) are pretty simple. Do it again as pay what you want, or sell it. I’m in a niche market here, and that has a lot of problems. I need people to find me, otherwise they’d never buy, and I need people to know what I’m ‘worth.’

So my step one for all this is to clean up the formatting of the book. A lot. I’ve been doing a metric tonne of work on formatting things ‘right’, adding in better images, making the layout look nice. Secondly, I may not release this as an epub at all. It’s just as easy for me to export a PDF as an epub, but the formatting for epub is a lot trickier. Furthermore, it’s a 4:1 download ratio for PDF to epub. Clearly PDF is ‘more popular’ and it can be read on most ereaders anyway. And I suspect most of you are reading it on your computer, not your iPad. Save me time and effort.

Speaking of time and effort, there’s the reason I didn’t roll my own ecommerce solution. I’m not in a place where processing your credit cards is a smart idea, also it’s a lot more work than is worth it for one ebook. By posting books for ‘donations’ there are other benefits. That said, it makes me reliant on external sources. I’d not use Paypal if I could figure out how to explain PopMoney (seriously, if I could have a ‘send me money through PopMoney link’ I’d fuck Paypal right in the ear), but after a little work, I put up a WePay alternative to those who hate Paypal. I could make it so the download links are emailed to you after you donate, but that feels a little assy, and how would you skim to see if you wanted it?

I’m open to suggestions, clearly.