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!
Voluntary Simplicity in a Mobile Home is now available on Amazon
for $1.99! This is my favorite creation yet because it reads a
bit like a storybook (albeit an informative one) with its interviews of
eight mobile-home dwellers who have used low-cost housing to go off the
grid, quit their jobs, and/or build a beautiful home. I hope you
enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Meanwhile, I've had
several people ask me about my choice to continue self-publishing
despite the success of my paperback, which is already on its
second print run. The paperback has seemed like a good business
venture so far, with two-thirds of its sales off Amazon (meaning I'm
reaching a broader audience) and with my own ebook sales increasing by
50% during launch month.
However, I want to gather
data for another six months or so to determine whether print books are
really worth their salt. I have a sneaking suspicion that sales
of my monthly ebooks will fall below earlier levels once the compiled
Weekend Homesteader ebook is available from Skyhorse,
and I'm not so sure November's boost in ebook sales wasn't due to the
guest posts and interviews I tacked onto my usual routine. From a
purely financial standpoint, I make about 65 cents from sales of the
paperback, but $4.20 if someone buys all twelve of the monthly ebooks,
so I need to sell a lot of paperbacks to make up the difference if the
two are in direct competition.
In addition, I really
enjoy the ability to write books about topics any sane publisher would
sneer at, and I cherish the flexibility to make a book as long as it
wants to be, with as many or as few photos as fit the flow. So
I'll spend some more time thinking before embarking on another joint
venture with a print publisher, even though I've been very happy with
Skyhorse's handling of The Weekend Homesteader.
Meanwhile, a friend has
been helping me revise my monthly ebook
versions of Weekend Homesteader so they include all of the
extra information in the paperback (plus some bonus photos!) I
hope to have the revisions up on Amazon next week, and those of you who
bought the first edition should be able to upgrade to the second
edition for free.
Finally, I've been hard
at work on another ebook, Trailersteading:
Voluntary Simplicity in a Mobile Home. I've been
interviewing a lot of fascinating homesteaders who have used a mobile
home as their ticket to independence, and am excited to share their
stories with the world. The ebook will probably come out around
I've got lots of ebook
sales advice I've been meaning to share with you here, but I seem to
want to spend my time writing ebooks rather than writing about
them. If you're itching to know what I think is the best way to
use Amazon's free ebook promotion program, though, leave a comment and
I'll write that post.
Even more exciting, the
paperback version of Weekend Homesteader has a cover and a preorder
page on Amazon!
The book won't ship until October, but you can order it now and help me
rise in the rankings so strangers will consider giving my book a try.
decided to give each book series its own RSS feed to make it easier for
you to keep up-to-date with relevant news. Head over to Weekend Homesteader's
page to find out how
the book advances through the publishing process (I
have a cover!) and
to the Chicken Ebooks page to learn about my new
series --- the Permaculture Chicken.
I also have a very low
traffic email list on which I make announcements of new book
launches. Drop me an email at email@example.com if you'd like to subscribe.
Thank you to everyone
for reading and leaving reviews on Amazon! I'm stunned by how
successful this year's self-publishing venture has been, and have
really enjoyed sharing information with like-minded souls.
the right way to make a living from intellectual property? Should
you give it all away for free and count on the kindness of strangers to
sustain you, or should you hold your output close to your chest and
demand payment for every iota? I've been pondering this issue as
I experiment with ebooks, and as I watch other creative types around me
follow very different paths.
On the one hand, there's
the old school approach, adhered to by some well
known authors. Over on our homesteading blog, I like to write up
every week or so reviewing an interesting book, and I generally snag
photos off the internet to decorate the posts, citing them with a link
back to the source. A couple of the subjects of these series have
asked me to take images down, despite the fact that my posts send lots
of traffic their way (and definitely sell books, as I can tell from my
Amazon affiliate program). I have to admit that I think poorly of
those authors as a result, and am less inclined to buy their books.
At the other extreme, my brother
writes free software, not asking a penny for his labors.
I love his free software and use lots of it, but it didn't actually
occur to me until I started writing this post that I should put my
money where my mouth is and send the developers some cash. Even
now, I wouldn't really know where to start to support the dozens of
free programs I use on a daily basis.
that if I didn't make any money on my ebooks, I'd write a lot fewer of
them and they'd be much less polished, which makes me feel that the
totally free approach is as bad for the public as for the
creators. As a result, I'm currently walking the middle
road. While I do charge 99
cents for my ebooks, I also post a quarter of each one on my blog where
anyone can read it. I give away free pdf copies to anyone who
emails me to ask for one, and I don't enable digital rights management
and do enable lending.
The technique seems to work well at selling books, but I'm still not
totally sure it's the ethical choice (thus this post.)
I'd be curious to hear
what others think about the issue of making a
living from intellectual property in the internet age. Do you use
an all-paid, all-free, or middle of the road approach?
Meanwhile, don't forget
to spend 99 cents to check out the
final volume in the Weekend Homesteader series, full of information on
planting an early spring garden, growing edible mushrooms, building a
compost pile, and attracting native pollinators. This will be my
last ebook for a while, but I'll be sure to let you know when the print
book comes out.
an ebook free doesn't seem to have much long term effect on the book's
rankings. Above, compare the sales of two ebooks, one of which
was given a free period.
been playing with Amazon's feature of setting your ebooks to "free" for
up to five days every three months if you enter them in the lending
The results have been interesting.
books go like hotcakes.
I'm sure you could guess that, but I just thought I'd mention it.
The ebook that I set to free during the Christmas Eve/Christmas period
gave away over a thousand copies during the five day period.
slows after day two.
I suspect there are a lot of people who hang around on Amazon's free
list and snap up anything remotely interesting during the first couple
of days books are there. After the second day,
people were downloading fewer of my free ebooks, probably because the
freebie snappers had already eaten their fill. Perhaps it would
have been better to divide up my free period into two day chunks?
When your book stops being free, it plummets
in the rankings.
Amazon keeps separate lists for free and paid ebooks. By having
an ebook on the free list, their algorithm calculates that your ebook
hasn't sold any copies for five days, so it ends the period with lower
rankings than it started with. This is a bit annoying, but seems
to be a momentary problem. On the other hand, since the launch
period is so important for an ebook, my experiment (shown to the right)
of launching with a free period is probably a mistake. A better
choice is to make a book free after it's been out for a while.
a day or two of being paid, rankings rise to about the same spot where
they'd been before the free period. So, making your book
free doesn't help, right? Nope, see below.
book in a series free can boost sales of all the other books.
This is the most widely reported reason to set ebooks free, and my
preliminary data seems to back the hypothesis up. On the other
hand, my free book period was right smack in the middle of Christmas
craziness, so I might not see such a major boost with later
freebies. I'll keep experimenting and will report back soon.
The bottom line:
Don't expect making a book free to drive it up in the rankings.
Only give away older books that have been lost in the shuffle for
Consider giving away one book in a series.
Finally, don't forget to
check out my newest Weekend Homesteader volume, full of tips on easy
berries, backyard chickens, buying in bulk, and informal
apprenticeships. Just 99
cents in Amazon's kindle store!
To refresh your memory,
Amazon launched a lending library recently that
allows Prime members to download one free book per month (then give it
back when they want to borrow another.) Big publishers balked, so
Amazon agreed to pay them full price for each book Prime members
download for free, but Amazon offered a different deal to independent
authors. The KDP select program promised to divide a pot of
$500,000 evenly among all independent authors who enrolled based on how
many of their books were downloaded.
I had several hypotheses
about the program and enrolled two of my
ebooks to test them out. Here are the results:
Prime members will only
download expensive books --- after all, why waste your
on a 99 cent book?
Despite putting only 99 cent ebooks in the program, I did see 31
books borrowed in December. I don't have any other data to
compare that to, though, so I don't know if that's low, high, or
average for an author like me. As a side note, some authors raise
the price of the books they enroll in the library to make them look
like a better deal, but I didn't want to mess with my normal sales.
I'll make less money on
borrowed than bought books. I had a feeling that
big publishers would net around least half of the possible 5 million
downloads, which would make each download in the KDP program worth 20
I was pleasantly surprised to get an email from Amazon saying:
"Customers borrowed 295,000 KDP Select titles in December alone, and
with the $500,000 December fund, you have earned $1.70 per
borrow." I suspect that my math problem was due to an even larger
percentage of the borrows going to big publishers, which is good news
to those little guys like me who did
get borrowed. My borrows paid me much more than I would have
gotten by selling the books ($1.70 versus $0.35 apiece), but only came
to $52.70 for the month (compared to the $8,250 that one of the top
Making a book available to
be borrowed will result in fewer people buying the book.
This is a tough hypothesis for me to analyze since my only data point
for lending occurred during the Christmas rush, but I definitely didn't
see any declines. According to Amazon:
"Results show that paid sales of titles
participating in KDP Select are growing even faster than other KDP
titles. On top of this growth in paid sales, KDP Select authors and
publishers on average are receiving an incremental 26% in December as a
result of their participation in the Kindle Owners’ Lending
Library." I can see how that would be true --- as the
picture shows, if your book is in the lending library, the
price shows up as $0.00, which will probably trick some people into
thinking that non-Prime members can download it for free.
Now that Christmas is
over, I can experiment a bit more with the
lending library. I'll be sure to keep you posted on the
additional two books I've enrolled, and about how the larger $700,000
pot in January impacts borrow royalties.