October 18, 2011, 5:00 am

From 12,600 To 22 or What Went Wrong With My eBook

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: eBook
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dead treeHow can this happen?

 

I mean, I’m usually pretty good at what I do.

 

Especially when I do it for the second time.

 

Well, I guess it’s totally different when you charge, right?

 

You got it. I’m talking about the number of downloads for each of my books. In the right corner, with 12,652 downloads, weighing 37 pages and containing clear explanations about how to invest in dividend stocks; Dividend Investing: How To Build A Never Ending Cash Distributor

 

And on the left corner, the overweight 97 page eBook with templates and appendices, containing clear explanations on the very first steps on how to get out of the Rat Race… and with 22 downloads… Rat Race: 1 Year From Now, Will You Still Be A Rat?.

 

Ouch! This hurts! After a month and a half, I have only 22 sales of my 2nd eBook…. Definitely nothing to write home about! As I previously mentioned at the beginning of the year, my goal was to sell 100 copies by the end of the year. Let’s face it, this ain’t gonna happen. Unless Santa Claus buys them from me for Xmas!

 

After a few days of frustration (‘cause it’s really frustrating to put so much effort, energy and money into something!), I had to seriously think about what went wrong. While my first book was free, I still have more than 12,000 downloads in 3 months which is nothing compared to 22!
 
 
At first, I didn’t want to talk about the sales of my eBook on TFB and just pretend it never happened. I even debated this topic with my partner as to how transparent we should be about this failure. I was  am ashamed of my poor results. But I told you at the beginning of the year that I would be transparent with my business. It’s pretty easy to do when you claim to the world that you made 11K from blogging  last month, but it’s another thing when you have to claim your failures! So I decided to go “all-in!” But while I can’t tell you how to write and market a successful eBook, I can tell you where I shot and missed. So here are the hard learned lessons I came up with.

 

Wrong Topic

So my first eBook talks about how to set yourself with the right mindset, get your finances in order and prepare to get out of the rat race. In my opinion, I got it all right: people are stuck with jobs they don’t like, don’t manage their finances properly, don’t take the time or the energy to build a sideline business…. In other words; several people are stuck in the deep shiz and they don’t really know how to get out of it. So what’s wrong with the topic? 2 things:

 

#1 People know that they are stuck but they don’t care (e.g. they don’t realize how bad their situation is… this is usually called denial).

 

#2 Getting your personal finances in order is like losing weight: we all know we should do it and how to do it but we just don’t act.

 

The main problem with my topic is that I didn’t aim for emotion, for commitment. I simply tell the world; hey! Look at me! I got out of the rat race and I’ll tell you how

Sorry! Not sexy enough!

 

Wrong Market

When I thought about writing a book about escaping the Rat Race, I knew that I wasn’t reinventing the wheel; there are tons of books about personal finance and the rat race. I thought mine was different because it has 4 parts and I was going towards a very specific plan and a very specific route to become financially independent (through blogging). So the first book is too basic for most of you, my educated readers ;-). If you have been following me for a few years, chances are that you already have most of your finances in order and that you don’t feel the need to read the first book.

 

In fact, I think am sure that I would sell more copies of an eBook that explains how to build a media kit, deal with advertisers and build your own 6 figure online empire on 10 hours a week! Well… this is part 4 of my series ;-)… a little bit too long of a wait to sell copies, right?

 

Wrong Pricing

I did my bachelor’s degree in Marketing… and it seems that I forgot most of it when I did this book! The price for the Rat Race is $27. I didn’t want to price it lower. It wasn’t a matter of making a lot of money per book but rather to show that it has value and I wanted motivated people to buy this book. I think that if you are not motivated, you won’t be able to apply most techniques I wrote about.

 

But the truth is that $27 for a PDF document is just too much for most people. Worse than that, $27 is definitely not enough to develop engaged and motivated buyers. Therefore, I’m just another writer, selling another book. Price differentiation totally went wrong with my marketing!

 

Wrong Marketing

The problem with only 22 copies sold is that you can’t say if you product is good or bad… at this point, it is just bad marketing. So you have to take a closer look at the sales page and strategy to sell the book.

I spoke with a few people about my disappointing results and Baker was honest enough to tell me that my sales page sucks! Well, he’s a nice guy so it actually went like this:

“Out of 10, I would give your eBook cover a 9” (thx man!)

“But your sales page is a 6 at best” (doh!)

What’s so bad about my sales page? Several things:

#1 Graphics are not that great, I should have hired a professional webdesigner to create a kick ass page… and not try to do it myself!

 

#2 It doesn’t catch the buyer’s attention, I need to have a more powerful layout with images to convince people that my ebook is great.

 

#3 I don’t focus on emotion enough. While I worked on the page already, I still have more work to do in order to focus on benefits and emotion for potential buyers. You probably don’t care about how many pages and appendices you’ll get but you sure will smile when you read that this book will show you how to tell your boss how to shove his report up is ….

 

Besides the sales page, I’ve made several other marketing mistakes:

#1 I sent the contents of my sales page to my newsletter subscribers… the email was too long and too big. A short line such as “Hey Mike, take a few minutes to check out my book, I promise it will change your life forever”. People hate long emails (I do!) so what’s the point of sending a sales pitch to my most loyal readers? Man… that was such an amateur mistake!

 

#2 I got the link wrong in the newsletter! OMG! What a retard! So I had to send a second email with the right link… out of that email, I got 30 clicks to the shopping cart and 12 sales… just to show you how having the proper setup is a must when you launch a product!

 

#3 I counted on affiliate programs to sell books. Lol! At the Financial Blogger Conference, Ramit said that bloggers don’t sell products most of the time. In fact, it’s pretty hard as a blogger to be successful at affiliate marketing so I guess that selling your friend’s book won’t be any different! This is why I sent my book to several bloggers, got pretty good comments about it and some great reviews… but nothing more than links. Not a single sale.

 

Stuff that didn’t go wrong but that I could have done

On top of my numerous mistakes, there are omissions! Here are only a few things that should have been done and didn’t:

 

Give a Part for Free

I recently heard of bloggers giving a full chapter away to their newsletter readers so they get a real feel of the book. This is such a great tease and it shows what you have to offer. I think that offering a freebie is always a good way to show people why they should spend money and trust you.

 

Package the Book Differently

At first, we thought of launching each book separately and offer a special discount each time for previous buyers. Right now, I’m considering writing the whole thing in one shot, package it as 4 volumes of the same book (because this is exactly what it is) and sell only the package of something that will probably have over 500 pages. I think that the value will obviously be there in terms of content and that everybody will be able to pick the advice they need.

 

These books are meant to be a series of 4 steps. In my opinion, you can’t achieve step #3 before step #1. But hey! What if most people are more interested in reading about step #3 and #4 before doing anything they find in books #1 and #2? By selling the whole package in one shot, I’ll be able to reach everybody in one shot.

 

Guest Post

Instead of asking bloggers for reviews, I should have been much better at writing huge and epic guest posts on big blogs and mention that I have a book about escaping the rat race.

 

What’s Next?

It’s not too late to apply these strategies and I’ll certainly do it. However, I’ll wait until I really want to write about this book again (the pill is still VERY hard to swallow).  In the meantime, I went back to my first success and I’m writing the second book about Dividend Investing ;-D

 

I’ll keep you posted on my other experience in my newsletter, be sure to subscribe ;-).

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Comments

Very honest analysis Mike.

I do recall mentioning on a forum that I felt the price was too high for a computer file book when you asked for feedback. I am no marketer but i’ve been online since the late 80s. As I will rarely shell out $25+ dollars for a physical book that is hundreds of pages long I just couldn’t see how buying a guide (or 100 page short-read) for the same price PDF style could fly.

Best of luck with the next book Mike i’ll keep my eyes/ears open for it.

by: The Financial Blogger | October 18th, 2011 (7:02 am)

Hey SPF,

I know that some people at the Yakezie told me that the price was too high. I was just to convinced to listened to others I guess… but I got it all wrong. The good news is that I had an amazing opportunity to learn from it. I will use this experience and apply those lessons on my second book about dividend investing. I’m pretty sure I’ll be more successful!

Mike – My bit of feedback on your sales page, aside from the actual content, is the fact that it’s formatted as a blog post. It’s got all the sidebar elements distracting the visitor from the pitch. Since you have a double sidebar, it also squeezes the main content. You might do well with a stand-alone page.

As for the price tag, that strikes me as a marketing issue. If you’re sales page makes the visitor feel like the book is worth way more than what you’re asking for and creates an urge to act, then the price tag becomes less of a factor.

No offense to SPF, but someone that’s not willing to spend one over $25 is likely not in your target market. With that being said, maybe the target market needs to be a little more clear.

It’s a learning process. I find that a sales page is like a resume. When you’re first starting out it’s always going to suck. As you become more accomplished the resume gets better.

Maybe you could outsource the sales page next time?

by: The Financial Blogger | October 18th, 2011 (10:15 am)

@John, MD

good point on the page format. I’ll definitely outsource it. I’m even thinking of creating a “side” website with a cleaner sales page.

as for the price, I’ll repackage the offer at a higher price (but with the 4 books together). I think it will show a lot more value this way.

Mike,

I appreciate your honest analysis. I have much more respect for you, now that you have shared your mistake with us. It shows your maturity and that you are learning from your mistake.

I would say, writing a book will not pay off. If you spent the time writing blog posts instead, you will do better financially.

I was interested in the ebook but it felt like it was covering too much ground in some ways. The “introduction to personal finance” space is a crowded one (off the top of my head, I can think of several authors including David Chilton [Wealthy Barber book], Dave Ramsey [book/media empire – some good stuff but sadly American in focus and too religious], Ramit Sehti [I Will Teach You To Be Rich]” and others out there. I think your blog stands out as a Canadian (I’m a Canadian and it is deeply refreshing to see a blog that addresses RRSPs and the like and no “IRAs” and “401ks” etc) and that the fact that you balance a financial services careeer with a side business.

What appealed most to me about the ebook (and your story more generally) is your ability to achieve great succcess in the conventional workplace AND launch a successful side business. Either topic could succeed as a standalone product.

P.S. It is certainly possible to see ebooks for far more than hardcover books. One great example of this (and a competitor, in some respects) is Chris Guillebeau, who runs a site called “The Art of NonConformity.” In particular, the “The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself” product comes in at $58-$129. How does he do it? I would argue there are two specific take away points: the graphic design of the store and product itself are very impressive and the product itself. What does the buyer get? The PDF guide itself but also other materials – it is designed as a “package” of material rather than a single item.

by: The Financial Blogger | October 20th, 2011 (10:39 am)

@Tom,

yeah… I’m getting to a similar conclusion. I think that I gave too much importance to “starting on the right foot” and should have started right away with the “good stuff”.

thx for your precious feedback!

[…] Financial Blogger gave an honest and transparent analysis of what went wrong with his ebook?  Pretty great of him to share this with his […]

Hey Mike,

You’ve certainly endeared a lot of people to you with this honest post. I just wrote a book as well, and to be honest, I could learn plenty from what you have shared. Thank you….and congratulations on making $11K during one of your blogging months. I haven’t made $11 in a month on my blog! Well done!!!!!

by: The Financial Blogger | October 21st, 2011 (2:03 pm)

Hey Andrew!

I wish you the best with your book, try to beat me 😉 lol!

[…] […]

[…] facts and in-depth analysis about what really happened.  Well, The Financial Blogger spills it in From 12,600 To 22 or What Went Wrong With My eBook by discussing lessons learned from an eBook launch.  TFB usually has a golden touch when it comes […]

As John and MD mentioned the main issue with your sales page is that you have to think of it as a funnel and currently it’s more like a pasta strainer with lots of holes. Each link is a new way out of your sales funnel. Too many ways out. Sales pages need to have only 1 way out (really 2) they either click the buy button or they close the page. ( you can and should have more than 1 buy button though) Then you can also do things if people close the page like display a pop-up with a second change discount code before they leave.

Fantastic post – any time I feel I have been educated, I am happy I read the post – your honest assessment kept me riveted to the end.

Sorry I’m late to commenting on this post (I’m behind on my blog reading), but I’ll offer up my two cents on your product.

I think you nailed it on the head with your price being out to lunch for the market. Personal finance books range from $15 to $20 for soft cover print editions (for about 200+ page counts). Then ebooks are typically discounted further to account for the lack of printing costs and cheaper distribution. Price will vary, but $15 is expensive for a ebook edition and $9.99 or cheaper is a more common price point.

My book, Free at 45, I thought was at the upper price limit of $18.95 for the print and $12.95 for the ebook given it is only 162 pages. I have sold about 200 copies sold so far since March (and that is with a few radio interviews and coverage in Moneyville section of the Toronto Star). Yet in hind sight I think I should have gone with a $14.95 print price point and $9.99 ebook to boost sales and take the lower profit per unit. So in comparsion your ebook at $27 for 97 pages is overpriced by roughly $17. Yet even $9.99 price point would be high given your lenght, so your sweet spot for price should have likely been closer to $5.99 or less.

Hard to shallow but true, the market will only take so much and with all these $0.99 novels out there ebooks just can’t really get much for sales over $9.99 unless your an established author or have a much longer book.

Best of luck on the rest of the series.

Tim

My site is a blank canvas for you….

On your dividend book how many downloads were from bloggers? Is there a way to tell how many downloads you got from my site for instance?

by: The Financial Blogger | October 26th, 2011 (5:30 am)

@Evan,

unfortunately, we can’t tell… all I know is how many visitors you sent me but the widget only track downloads from my page, not their source….

Sorry to be late but let’s look at Apple App Stores, the pricing is way of the charts in terms of price versus value. Games are selling for 99 cents when many of those go for 10$ in the console market place … Social gaming on Facebook is free with options to pay more (lots of them do). The expectation is that you can get everything free or almost free these days.

What’s different with books that charge more than the current cost of entertainment?

The model may need to be adapted to the way consumers want to operate these days 🙂 How about free chapters and than charge for the rest. If the book really has value, it will be picked up. I am still not sure how eBooks compete with released books. I don’t think an eBook is valued the same as a released book by a publisher from a paying customer perspective.

Some food for thoughts …

When I thought about writing a book about escaping the Rat Race, I knew that I wasnâ??t reinventing the wheel; there are tons of books about personal finance and the rat race. I thought mine was different because it has 4 parts and I was going towards a very specific plan and a very specific route to become financially independent (through blogging). So the first book is too basic for most of you, my educated readers 😉 . If you have been following me for a few years, chances are that you already have most of your finances in order and that you donâ??t feel the need to read the first book.

[…] Mike from The Financial Blogger presents From 12,600 To 22 or What Went Wrong With My eBook […]