ebooks in less than a month --- you probably think I've been writing
like crazy! The truth, though, is that I started both Growing into a Farm and Low-Cost Sunroom in the spring and just didn't have time to finish them up before the garden stole my time away.
And this newest ebook was
primarily written by my father while I was a toddler. All I had
to do is update a bit of information and make a pretty cover and it was
ready to go. I learned a lot in the editing process and hope you
I just realized that even though it's not literally a book, some of you might be interested in our new homesteading calendar (and if you don't want to pay for one, you can enter our giveaway
for the chance to win one for free). I teamed up with Mark's
step-Mom to make the project a reality and was thrilled by her graphic
design skills...and it inspired me to finally think about printing
copies of some of my ebooks. Personally, I only read non-fiction
on paper, so it's a bit hypocritical of me to expect you all to enjoy
non-fiction in an e-format. Plus, I get frequent emails from folks
asking when paper copies will be available. Still, I've held off
because there are so many decisions to make, and it often seems easier
(and more fun) to just write another ebook.
Perhaps you can weigh in on these issues?
Would you prefer to have each ebook printed in a slim volume or have each series compiled into a thicker volume?
With the standalone books, you'd be able to pick and choose which ones
you want to buy, but a thicker volume would be more cost-effective in
the long run if you want to buy them all.
Would you prefer color or black and white? I'm not quite sure how my publisher was able to make The Weekend Homesteader
available so cheaply. (I think it had to do with getting the book
printed in China by the thousand.) On the home-publishing scale,
color books would be much more expensive, making a compilation of my Modern Simplicity
ebooks cost $56 versus $21 if it was black and white. One volume
would cost $12 in color versus $5 in black and white (except for
Trailersteading, which is bigger and thus costs more).
Are you really all that interested in printed copies?
I figure it'll take me about as long to format the Modern Simplicity
series into paperbacks as it would take me to write a new ebook. I
might be able to farm the task out, but if not, that means a longer
wait for the half dozen new titles currently bouncing around in my head.
Any titles you particularly want on paper?
I know I could contact a
real publisher, but I've actually been happier with the work-to-profit
ratio from my ebooks compared to the paperback I published
conventionally. Of course, I could be smarter this time around and
try to find a publisher who's willing to let me retain all ebook
rights, but those negotiations sound like a hassle when all I really
want to do is write. Ideas?
am one of your readers and also an author. I published my first
on Kindle last November and am working on my 5th book now. I would
like to pick your brain about being a kindle author and pricing
books. I have noticed that you price your books really low.
experiment with the pricing, or have you always used low pricing?
you found that your sales are higher at the lower price... or have you
run that experiment?"
I've posted previously about my theory behind pricing low,
but I thought it was worth revisiting this topic since selling ebooks
on Amazon is becoming such a lucrative way for the modern homesteader to
earn "egg money." To be honest, I price low because it brings in
more money (and has the side benefit of getting my book in front of lots
of different eyes).
self-explanatory why more people would buy a 99 cent ebook than $10
ebook, what many new authors probably don't realize is that your
immediate income isn't the most important factor in pricing an ebook
low. If you make $50 from selling
one copy of a $71 ebook, and make $50 from selling 142 copies of a 99
cent ebook, the result in your wallet may be the same that day, but the
repercussions are very different. Since you only sold one copy,
the expensive ebook will barely rise in Amazon's rankings, so you
won't sell another copy for quite a while. Meanwhile, selling 142
copies of the 99 cent ebook will shoot it up to the top of its category,
helping you pick up lots of readers who have never heard of you
before. I suspect this is the real reason why cheap
ebooks do well over the long run.
benefit of selling ebooks cheaply is that they don't have to be epic
tomes. I've had only a few complaints about length when pricing
ebooks at the $0.99 to $1.99 level, and I aim for only 10,000 to 20,000
words per book. Splitting longer thoughts into a series of ebooks
not only lets me publish ebooks more often (keeping my ebooks in the
public eye), it also helps me promote the ebooks. Amazon's KDP Select program allows me to set each ebook free
for five days each three months, and I've found that if one of my free
ebooks gives away a few thousand copies, I immediately see a boost in
sales of other books in that series. Free periods do you much less
good if you only have one book on Amazon.
All of that said, I've
started charging $1.99 instead of 99 cents for some of my new ebooks and
haven't seen any decline in sales from the higher-priced books.
The immediate reason for charging more is that Amazon will no longer let
you sell an ebook with lots of pictures for 99 cents --- if your file
is above a certain size, they mandate that the price is higher. I
can't talk myself into leaving out pictures, so I instead raise the
price. I'm not sure if $1.99 has become the new 99 cents --- an
impulse purchase that few people bat an eye at --- or whether I'm
becoming well enough known that people are willing to take a chance on
giving me that extra dollar. I'd be curious to hear from other
ebook authors who experiment similarly so I'll know whether to recommend
the 99 cent or $1.99 price point to new authors.
Even though it's based on selling a physical product, I always recommend Microbusiness Independence to new authors since it helps them understand the first step of marketing --- creating an internet presence.
Okay, maybe my mother
really only said my newest ebook was as good as Peanuts....
But her gist was that Growing
into a Farm is fun, escapist reading
that is likely to cheer you up if you need a boost.
into a Farmisn't
the "completely different" ebook I promised you next --- I got
side-tracked. But my newest installment in the Modern Simplicity
series is a bit more plot-based than usual, being a sort of memoir
of my first few years struggling to move onto the farm. If you
liked The Dirty Life, or just have a hankering for a love story with
lots of mud, this book should be for you.
If you read and
enjoy, I hope you'll take a minute to leave a review. Your
reviews are what help my ebooks see the light of day, and I'm very
grateful! As always, thank you for reading.
As I explained in this
post, our most
recent product launch was a vastly different affair than our first product
launch, and we're using the same techniques to make the launch of
our EZ Miser kit also reach the
masses. In part, the stunning number of EZ Miser sales (from
a mom-and-pop-business perspective) during launch week was due to
our 10,000-person email list, accumulated over the years from
everyone who buys our waterers. However, I've also learned a
lot about the value of a quality launch, and I thought I'd share
some tips here since the pointers are handy for folks rolling out
new ebooks as well as for physical products.
The first thing to
consider is timing. Although sources vary, most folks agree
that mid-morning on a Monday or Tuesday is the best time to catch
folks' attention via computer screen. Of course, timing will
depend on your particular crowd --- teenagers are probably
sleeping in and might be better reached in the afternoon.
But for the most part, it's best to launch at a time when folks
are going to be actively checking email and social-networking
sites, rather than deleting that backlog that showed up
overnight. With ebooks, I've seen a large difference in
initial sales if I launch on a Monday versus a Friday, and those
initial sales determine whether I'll reach the top-100 list in my
category and start selling to strangers.
Your second step is really something you
should have been working on for months in advance --- reaching
your fan base. This is where it helps to have taken my
advice from Microbusiness
and created a product in a field you really care about, since that
makes it much easier to genuinely want to share posts on-topic
every day. Hopefully, you've been making frequent posts on
the social-media platform(s) of your choice so that people will
feel genuinely invested in your journey and will react to your
launch announcement with enthusiasm rather than ignoring it as a
sale pitch. With that prep work done, launch time simply
consists of a blog post, facebook post, and google plus post
sharing the big news. (You might also tweet or use other
networks I'm probably not even aware of.) If you have an
email list of interested people, you'll definitely also want to
email an announcement on launch day since these are proven past
customers who are likely to enjoy your new product as well.
(But be ready for a flurry of replies and set aside a couple of
hours to answer them.)
I find it really
helps to let your most loyal fans know you appreciate them in some
way since they've been acting as unpaid salespeople for your
products. With ebooks, I like to set the ebook free at the
end of the first week so that anyone without 99 cents can download
a copy, and at that time I also email free pdf copies to anyone
who asks for them (handy for folks who don't want to jump through
the hoops to download a kindle app, and handy for you since you
end up with addresses to add to your email list). With a
physical product, my current method is to thank my fans with a
sale and a contest during launch week so that at least a couple of
people come away with a free copy while everyone enjoys a reduced
The followup stage is
especially important with ebooks --- getting a few good
reviews. Your loyal fans will often prime the pump if you
remind them that you need reviews at the same time you're giving
away free books. Reviews help strangers decide that it's
worth taking a chance on an unknown, so I profusely thank anyone
who's willing to take five minutes to write a review.
There's probably more
to launch day that I've forgotten, but this post is already too
long. So I'll open the floor to you --- what else do you do
to ensure that a new ebook or product is introduced to the world
at its best?
(And, as a side note,
our EZ Miser kits are 10% off this week,
so now's the time to stock up on chicken waterer supplies!)
was our first ebook, detailing how Mark and I turned an invention
into our bread and butter. Since then, I've watched several
people work on bringing an invention to the world, and I've
noticed one big flaw in most folks' plan. Rather than
choosing off-the-shelf items that they can buy cheaply and modify
to create a new product, most inventors want to build something
entirely from scratch. At that point, they have to make a
decision --- pony up a lot of money to have the new product
mass-produced, or spend a lot of time building each one by hand.
This summer, Mark and
I have been working on his newest invention --- the EZ Miser,
which makes chicken watering even simpler. We had the
benefit of years of customer feedback from our first-generation waterer, and knew we wanted to make our new product bigger,
and easier to fill and use. But we were bound and determined
to stick to off-the-shelf parts that we could assemble in fifteen
minutes or less.
I've photographed some of
the many prototypes Mark worked his way through to give you an
idea of the type of trial and error you should expect when
cobbling together an invention, and Mark made a youtube video
talking about the process. Total cost for months of
experimentation came to around $900, which also provided enough
startup parts for the first few weeks of EZ Miser sales.
Since our business is reaching so many more people than it did
when we launched our first waterer, Mark also talked me into
spending $800 on a patent search to ensure we weren't infringing
on anyone else's rights (although we still chose to eschew the
$6,500 patent filing process).
I hope seeing another
example of how off-the-shelf parts can turn into a new product
will inspire folks to follow our lead. And, in the meantime,
the EZ Miser at 10% off this week to reward our loyal
fans. I hope you'll tell any chicken-keepers you know!
Root Cellar is now live on Amazon! This new volume in
Simplicity series focuses on the root cellar Mark made out
of a junked refrigerator and a bit of spare hardware. The
fridge stored a winter's worth of crisp carrots and will be going
back to work this fall.
But the ebook doesn't
stop there. Several readers contributed their own root
cellaring experiences, ranging from a $2,000 basement root cellar
to plastic totes of damp sand in a cool closet. One
contributor even wrote about how she uses roots as a supplemental
feed to replace grain in her dairy cow's diet. I've also
included tips on growing enough roots to fill up your root cellar,
then feeding the storage vegetables to your family.
If you read and
enjoy, I hope you'll take a minute to leave a review on
Amazon. Every kind review makes me write faster, and my next
project is totally different from anything I've published here
My publisher seems to have
underestimated the appeal of The Weekend
Homesteader, so I
understand it is out of stock in many places (such as Amazon).
Meanwhile, spring is starting to pop out, and I know many of you want
to get started with the projects on April 1, as they were originally
Luckily, I stockpiled
six copies, so I figured I'd make them available to those of you who
can't find a copy locally. These will be signed and mailed media
mail via the US Postal Service, so should arrive a week and a half or
so after you place your order. After those run out, I'm afraid
you're stuck calling around to local bookstores (some of whom, I
understand, still have copies in stock) or trying out the ebook
editions. Sorry for the delay!
Edited to add: The paperback is back in stock on Amazon, so you can find it for the cheaper $12 price at last!
to this book already considering living in a trailer once my wife and I
find some property. However, I was considering it merely because of the
cost. After reading this book, I am genuinely excited for a
Trailersteading adventure." --- Andrew Ayers
I've been overwhelmed by
the kind reviews on my latest
ebook, and the
comments inspired me to whip out another one in record time. Homegrown
Humus is less about inspiration and more about reducing
perspiration, but hopefully the 99 cent ebook will help gardeners fit
cover crops into their gardens with ease. I think of this ebook
as a Valentine's gift to soil everywhere, which is why the handful of
soil has an uncanny resemblance to a heart.... Enjoy!