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Leanpub FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions by Authors

If this FAQ doesn't help, there are two other ways to get help…

  1. Join the Leanpub authors Google Group at http://groups.google.com/group/leanpub and post your question there.
  2. Email us at hello@leanpub.com and we'll be happy to help you.

If your question is general in nature, please use the Google Group so that other Leanpub authors can benefit from your question being answered. We check the group too, so we'll see your question and reply there…

Q: I'm a Leanpub author, and even after reading all these FAQs I'm still stuck! Can you help?
Sure! Just email hello@leanpub.com and we'll be happy to help you. (This email address sends email to everyone at Leanpub, so the right person can reply.)

Q. How long has Leanpub been around? Are you guys real?
Yes, we're real. The first copy of a Leanpub book was sold on 2010-04-21. The book was Eric Ries' Startup Lessons Learned, and the price of the book was $29.99 USD. After Startup Lessons Learned, Eric went on to write another book that you may have heard of.

Q. I created an account and a book, found it in my Dropbox and I edited the Book.txt file. I then returned to the Leanpub website and generated a preview. However, the preview didn't have the contents of Book.txt that I just updated. What's up?
You need to write your actual content in separate plain text files written with Markdown formatting. The Book.txt file is just a list of files. You can see the sample content for each Leanpub book styles by clickling on the following download links for business, fiction and technical books.

Q. Can I upload a PDF and sell it on Leanpub?
Currently, no. All Leanpub books are supposed to be available in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats, and our customers prefer a consistent look and feel to Leanpub books. That means you need to use the Leanpub workflow, so you can generate your book in all three formats, from a single source, with the click of a button. We think you'll prefer our workflow once you give it a try!

Q. Can you convert my book to the proper formats if I supply you with the typescript in PDF?
We would have to go from the PDF to Markdown (which is our manuscript format), and then from there we would produce PDF, EPUB and MOBI. We don't offer this service at the moment.

Q. How and when do you pay royalties?

We pay a royalty of 90%, minus 50 cents, on your sales. Royalties are paid at the beginning of each month via PayPal, once a minimum amount of $40 is reached. Because of our 'Happiness Guarantee', which allows readers to claim a refund for 45 days, there is also a 45-day 'hold period' applied to the royalties associated with any sale.

Q. What program should I use to edit Markdown files?
Any text editor works. For programmers, we recommend writing in Emacs, vi or TextMate. For non-programmers, we recommend iA Writer for Mac and iPad. If all else fails, you can also use TextEdit on Mac or Notepad, Wordpad or Notepad++ on Windows.

Q: Can I use Leanpub to write a book in a language other than English?
Yes, you can. Leanpub supports a number of languages. After you create your book, just choose your language from the 'Main Language Used in the Book' dropdown in the General tab on your book's Settings page.

For some languages, your book will also have a landing page and a purchase page displayed in your book's chosen language. The languages that currently have this feature are Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian and Spanish. If you have any corrections to suggest for our translations, or if you would like to help us add a new language, please email us at hello@leanpub.com. You can also contribute to our localization efforts on GitHub: https://github.com/peterarmstrong/leanpub_localization.

Q: Can I sell my book on Leanpub and other sites at the same time?

Leanpub authors can sell their books wherever they want. In particular, we encourage all Leanpub authors to also sell their books on Amazon KDP and Apple once the books are done. We think both those channels are too important to ignore. (Using the Leanpub store isn't even a requirement, let alone an exclusive requirement. It's possible for an author to make their book on Leanpub and sell it elsewhere without us earning anything, and we're fine with that.)

We want you to use our store in addition to any others that you use because it's better, not because you're forced to. Our hypothesis is that the experience of using our store while your book is in-progress will be enough to convince you to continue using it (and direct your Twitter followers and/or blog subscribers there) once your book is finished, regardless of what other storefronts you use. Our variable price feature means we're a more profitable choice than even our really good royalty rates would lead you to believe...

Q: I'm lost! How do I find my book, the book tools, etc.?

To find your book, please follow these steps:
  1. Log in by clicking 'Sign In' at the top right of a Leanpub page
  2. Click on 'Your Account' at the top right and select 'Dashboard'
  3. Click on 'Books'
  4. Click on the link for your book's title, or click on the book's cover image
  5. Then you will see tabs for your books Settings, Actions etc. at the top of the page

Q: Can I use files that have extensions besides .txt, such as .md?

You can use any extension you want (or no extension). As a policy we suggest authors use .txt files so they open easily when double-clicked.

Q. What if I want to preview the Markdown without generating the book on Leanpub?
There are 3 ways to do this:

  1. You can either use a text editor that has a built in Markdown previewer. On Mac there's Mou, and on Windows there's MarkdownPad.
  2. You can keep using your favorite text editor and use an external Markdown preview program. We like the idea of this, since we are very partial to our text editors. If you use a Mac, you can use Marked, which is a standalone a Markdown preview program.
  3. You can use a WYSIWIG Markdown editor. See the next question.

Q. I don't actually want to write Markdown by hand; I want a WYSIWYG editor for Markdown! Does such a tool exist?
We want this too! Here's the best one we know about currently: Texts. It has a Mac and Windows version. We've tried the Mac version; it's still at an early stage but we think it looks promising. Please give this a try and give its developer some feedback.

Q. I don't like any of those text editing options. Can you suggest others?>
There's an Adobe AIR app called Gonzo which should work on Mac and Windows. A Leanpub author has contributed a review of MarkdownPad and a review of Gonzo with an eye on their suitability for use writing Leanpub books. You can also try out Texts and Draft, which are both cool, and free.

Q. I already have a bunch of content in Word. What should I do?
You need to convert your Word document or documents into Markdown. Here's how this works:

  1. Save as HTML from Word by choosing "Web Page (.htm)". Note that you MUST choose the option "Save only display information into HTML", not the default "Save entire file into HTML" option.
  2. Put the HTML file or files into the convert_html folder in your Leanpub book Dropbox folder.
  3. Click the "Convert Files" button on the Import page. This should create Markdown for you. After this, you can continue wrting your book in Markdown. (You want to do this import process once, not a bunch of times. So please don't write in Word and do this process every time you publish or preview -- that will cost you time in the long run. Learn Markdown; you'll be happier.)

Leanpub has bet the company on Markdown. Specifically, we claim that Markdown is a better way to write books than Word, OpenOffice, DocBook, anything. If we're wrong, we're dead. If we're right, we have an advantage. Also, Leanpub is based on the idea that publishing while you write is helpful. We call that idea "Lean Publishing"; see the manifesto for the full spiel :)

More broadly, Leanpub is based on the idea that it's absurd that in 2012 there was no good way to write a book. Using a bunch of Markdown files is the best thing we have come up with, but fundamentally most of the ways that people write and publish books today are just barbaric. Proprietary document formats, unreliable programs, no ability to version control your files and see meaningful differences, no way to interact with your readers as you write, etc. We might as well be using typewriters or quill pens. We're doing our part to help fix this global catastrophe; will you do yours? :)

Q. I'm still a bit confused in terms of how to actually go about the layout and editing part. Can you help?
The best thing to do is look at the sample content for each Leanpub book style by clicking on the following links to download examples of our business, fiction and techincal books.

Q. I created an account and a book, found it in my Dropbox and I edited the Book.txt file. I then returned to the Leanpub website and generated a preview. However, the preview didn't have the contents of Book.txt that I just updated. What's up?
You need to write your actual content in separate plain text files written with Markdown formatting. The Book.txt file is just a list of files. You can see the sample content for each Leanpub book styles by clickling on the following download links for business, fiction and technical books.


I'll try to explain briefly here.

The chapter structure is separate from the files.

# This is an h1, which becomes a chapter

## This is an h2, which becomes a section

### This is an h3, which becomes as subsection

Q. Do I put all the posts I want into one file can call that chapter1.txt? Do I have to create the Book.txt file in the order I want them to appear?
The Book.txt file just puts the files in order. (You could write an entire Leanpub book in one file, and then Book.txt would just list that file name.) The content of the files determines the chapters, sections, etc. Any
# Title at the beginning of a line
becomes an h1 which is a chapter. Everything after that will be in that chapter until the next
# Title at the beginning of a line
which will start the next chapter.

Q. I tried to generate a preview of my book, and I waited a couple hours and nothing happened. Is there a delay?
Depending on the size of your book, there's about a 2 - 10 minute delay. Chances are if you don't see it in 10 minutes it didn't generate. We currently write a file called book_generation.log to the preview or published directories, which is primarily for our debugging. If you have any issue with this, please email hello@leanpub.com and attach the book_generation.log file.

Q. I accidentally renamed the Book.txt file to book.txt. Is there an issue?
Just rename it back to Book.txt and then there's no issue :)

Q. I want to only import blog posts from the last 2 years, but the Leanpub import gets all my posts. How do I fix this?
Leanpub makes a separate file for each post it imports. So you can just delete the files you don't want from your Leanpub Dropbox folder, and remove them from the Boox.txt file. Or, if your blogging platform supports custom RSS feeds for categories or dates, you can make an RSS feed containing only the posts you want (by category, say) and then import that feed into Leanpub instead of your full feed.

Q. How do I set a cover image for my book?
Just put a file called title_page.png in your book's images folder and then create a new Preview. The file should be at 300 pixels per inch (PPI) resolution for best quality. The actual size of the image varies based on the book style you have chosen. A technical book defaults to 8.5 inch x 11 inch paper. Your cover page should be exactly 2550 pixels wide and 3300 pixels high at 300 PPI. A business book defaults to Digest paper (5.5 inches x 8 inches). Your cover page should be exactly 1650 pixels wide and 2400 pixels high at 300 PPI. A fiction book also defaults to 5.5 inches x 8 inches. So your cover page should be exactly 1650 pixels wide and 2400 pixels high at 300 PPI. Please note that smaller files and resolution values work too (for example, 432x648 at 72 PPI), however these images will be scaled and may look fuzzy.

You can also choose A5 and A4 page sizes. Below is a table setting out the dimensions for cover page images in inches and pixels (width x height) for each page size :

Unit Digest US Letter A5 paper A4 paper
Inches 5.5 x 8 8.5 x 11 5.8 x 8.3 8.3 x 11.7
DPI 300 300 300 300
Pixels 1650 x 2400 2550 x 3300 1740 x 2490 2490 x 3510

Q. I need more help learning about images. Can you help?
You insert an image like this:

![This is the Image Caption](images/LeanpubLogo1200x610_300ppi.png)

That's it! (See this web page for details on images in Markdown.) We support PNG, JPEG and GIF formats for images.

Note that it's important to get the size and the resolution of the image right:

Different book types have different default paper sizes. Each different paper size has a different maximum image width, before your image will bleed over the margin. Currently all Leanpub books have 1 inch margins. Before we get into specifics there's one really important thing to note: Watch Your File Sizes! Before publishing your book, you should look at the sizes of your images in the images directory. If your images are huge, your book will be too. This is especially true at 300 PPI -- the images are a lot bigger than you're used to at 72 PPI. A simple tip to avoid problems is to use JPEG for all photographs, and to use 80% quality or lower. For figures that are drawings instead of photographs, PNG will look better than JPEG. You should be fine with PNG for these, since drawings typically produce files that are a lot smaller than photographs.

Next, here is what you need to know for the different Leanpub book types...

Technical Books
A technical book defaults to 8.5 inch x 11 inch paper. Subtracting margins, you have 6.5 inches x 9 inches to work with. So your image can be up to 1950 pixels wide and up to 2700 pixels high at 300PPI. Your cover page uses the full page width, so it should be exactly 2550 pixels wide and 3300 pixels high at 300 PPI. If this is a technical book, the default title_page.jpg shows you an example of this.

Business Books
A business book defaults to Digest paper (5.5 inches x 8 inches). Subtracting margins, you have 3.5 inches x 6 inches to work with. So your image can be up to 1050 pixels wide and up to 1800 pixels high at 300PPI. Your cover page uses the full page width, so it should be exactly 1650 pixels wide and 2400 pixels high at 300 PPI. If this is a business book, the default title_page.jpg shows you an example of this.

Fiction Books
A fiction book defaults to Digest paper (5.5 inches x 8 inches). Subtracting margins, you have 3.5 inches x 6 inches to work with. So your image can be up to 1050 pixels wide and up to 1800 pixels high at 300PPI. Your cover page uses the full page width, so it should be exactly 1650 pixels wide and 2400 pixels high at 300 PPI. If this is a fiction book, the default title_page.jpg shows you an example of this.

Note that we have a whole section in each sample book about images. See the sample content for each Leanpub book type at these links for W Business Lowercase, W Fiction Lowercase and W Technical Lowercase books.

Q. I have a ton of 72 PPI images. Do I really need to convert them to 300 PPI?
No. You can try putting them in your book at 72 PPI. We convert them for you. We're just saying that our automatic conversion may not be as good as what you would do manually.

Q. Can I specify a font?
Currently we don't support this, since we need to use open source fonts. If you let us know the exact fonts you're using we'll see if there's anything close, and offer a font choice on the book page.

Q. Can I use Leanpub to create print-ready PDFs for third-party print-on-demand sites like Lulu and CreateSpace?
Yes, you can! If you go to the 'Actions' page for your book and click on the 'Print' tab, you will have the option to activate this feature. It includes things like alternating page numbers (if you're holding a print book open, the page numbers are above your thumbs) and alternating gutters (the space on the inside edge of each page in a print book, next to the book's spine). You can also choose many of the precise page sizes used by sites like Lulu and CreateSpace for the different sizes of books they produce.

We want Leanpub to be the best way to write and publish books in ebook and in print formats. If you have any suggestions to improve our Print features, please let us know by emailing hello@leanpub.com.

Q. How do I get the system to pick up my changes?
As soon as you save the files in the book folder, Dropbox will pick them up (assuming it is running) and the little Dropbox icon will look like a spinning thing. Once it's back to the green checkmark, Dropbox has the files. (Or, just wait about 10-20 seconds.) After this is true, clicking the publish button will trigger book generation with the latest files, since we always get the latest files from Dropbox.

Q. Can I delete my book? How?
As long as your book has no sales, you can delete your book. The button is at the bottom of the Edit Info page. If your book has sales, we have to offer it to its existing readers, so you currently can't delete it. In the future we will presumably add the ability to "archive" a book, so that it has no new sales but that its existing readers can still access it.

Q. Can the ebook be read on iPad, Kindle, Sony and other readers?
We support three formats: PDF, ePub (for iPad, Sony, Nook, etc.) and MOBI (for Kindle).

Q. Are the generated PDFs "PDF/X-3" (this is what both Lulu and Blurb are demanding for using their PDF-to-print workflow)?
We're not sure if they're "PDF/X-3", but we do know that authors have printed and sold Leanpub PDFs on Lulu. See this book for an example of a Leanpub book on Lulu (the corresponding Leanpub book is here).

Q. I have problems importing my blog, can you help?
Yes, we can! If you have any problems importing, please email hello@leanpub.com and we'll help you get your blog imported manually.

Q. If I import my blog, are those files available in Dropbox?
Yes! They will show up there after the import is complete.

Q. I have co-authors. Do you support having multiple authors for a book?
Yes! The preferred way to do this is via the Authors tab in your book's 'Settings' page. This lets you hook up complete author profiles to the book for each of your co-authors, not just their names. This way, Leanpub is more social and other books the authors write are discovered more easily.

Can I use Leanpub PDFs as part of the editing/reviewing process for my book?
Yes, you can. There are a number of PDF editors available. For example, in Preview on the Mac, your editors & reviewers can use the "Annotate -> Add Note" feature to add notes to your Leanpub-generated PDF.

Q. What about marketing? Will Leanpub market my book?
Right now we don't offer much help! (We have a bestsellers page, but this won't help you if you've sold no books!) Now, over time, we'll build the ability to browse books by category, etc, as well as facilitate the social discovery of your book by people who have purchased or liked similar books. For now, however, think of Leanpub as a way of monetizing your existing blog subscribers or Twitter followers. These people are your audience, and a certain subset of them (our hypothesis is 1% - 5%) are looking for a way to give you money for content you have already written. Leanpub is the best way of enabling this to happen, since we make that content into a book for you...

Q. What if a traditional publisher is interested in publishingh my Leanpub book? What if I want to remove my book from Leanpub and publish it elsewhere, like on Amazon, for example?
At Leanpub you hold the copyright: you can publish your book on Leanpub while you are shopping it around. Getting traction on Leanpub can help you build buzz and strengthen your negotiating hand with publishers. For example, you can ask to keep the ebook rights, since the Leanpub royalty rate of 90% minus the 50 cent flat fee is much better than what most publishers offer.

To 'retire' your book from Leanpub, just go to the 'Book Admin' tab on the 'Actions' page for your book, and click the 'Retire my book' button. You can unretire your book later, if you decide to start selling your book on Leanpub again.

Q. Can I override your default copyright message with my own, custom copyright message?
Yes, you can. Just go to the 'General' tab in your book's 'Settings' page, and enter your information in the 'Custom Copyright Owner' and 'Custom Copyright Date Range' fields.

Q. If I publish my book on Leanpub, can I also sell it on Amazon or anywhere else online?
Leanpub produces and sells PDF, EPUB (for iPad) and MOBI (for Kindle) formats. We have no lock in, however: you are free to sell the Leanpub-produced files anywhere you want, including on the Kindle store via Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program. We charge you nothing: this is your work; you own it. (Heck, you can even stick the Leanpub PDFs on Lulu to do print books; authors have done this.) The way we make our money is that we're confident you will also sell your work on Leanpub (as we pay 90% - 50 cents royalty, which is higher than Amazon or Apple, and we offer a nice storefront with an easy way to automatically distribute updates to your readers).

Q. Is it possible and permissible to take the .mobi file and directly upload it to the Kindle Store under our own name?
Yes, you can do that! You don't need our permission, but you have our blessing! :)

We're authors too, and the last thing an author wants is to feel like someone else owns their work or controls what they can do with it. It's yours. We're more than happy for you to make money in as many revenue streams as possible. As a courtesy to us, we would appreciate it if you left the mention of Leanpub in the second page (to help our marketing) when you sell it elsewhere, but you can remove that too if you want.

Our recommendation is to wait until the book is complete before putting it in the Kindle store and iBookstore, but you can do whatever you want. (Heck, you can even use Leanpub to make your book and put it in the Kindle store without ever selling it on Leanpub. However, from our perspective, it makes sense to also sell your books on Leanpub since we offer a better royalty structure as well as a nice mechanism to distribute updates to your in-progress books to your readers.

Q. What do you guys think about Amazon and Apple's bookstores? And what do you think about competitors that either charge a flat fee or take a cut to help to put books on the Amazon and Apple stores?
First off, we think that the Amazon and Apple bookstores are great, and that all finished books should be for sale in both stores. You can sell your Leanpub book yourself in both stores for $0. Or you can pay someone like BookBaby or Lulu to do this for you. We don't try to make any money from you when you sell your book in those stores. We have no lock-in.

Now, we think this makes sense for finished books, but not for in-progress books. While a Leanpub book is in-progress, we feel it makes sense to only be sold on Leanpub, since that way your readers get automatic updates when you publish new versions, etc. If you're writing a book and publishing lots of versions of it while you're writing, the last thing you want to deal with is having to update your book in a bunch of storefronts every time you release a new version.

However, we don't think that this is necessarily true of the ather places that sell ebooks. While any Leanpub author is free to sell their Leanpub books wherever they want, we feel that storefronts other than Amazon or Apple don't produce much traffic themselves. (This is true of Leanpub too!) To promote your book, you need to do the work yourself, with blogging, Twitter, etc. To concentrate effort (and PageRank), it makes sense to point people at one storefront in your blog posts, tweets, etc. (We want that place to be Leanpub, obviously -- Amazon and Apple can take care of themselves :) Also, the reason we structured our royalties the way we do is so that you get a better deal with Leanpub, so you'll want to point at Leanpub so you make the most money from your marketing efforts!

Q. Can I use Leanpub to publish my book(s) to the Apple iBookstore and the Amazon Kindle Store?
No. We think authors should do this themselves, since that way they'll have more control over how their book is sold. Or, if the author does not want to do this, there are services like Lulu and BookBaby that can do this with Leanpub books. We don't want to be in that business -- for us, it's too labor-intensive and distracting to our core mission, which is making writing, publishing and selling in-progress ebooks as simple and elegant as possible.

Q. Do all Leanpub books need to start as blogs?
No! You can start from scratch, or from any content (that you own!) that has an RSS feed. Any content with an RSS feed can be imported into Leanpub. This includes different blogging platforms (LiveJournal, Blogger, Typepad, etc) and microblogging platforms (Twitter, etc). Or, you can start from scratch and write the entire book on Leanpub. If you import your RSS feed, what happens is that each RSS feed entry (blog post) turns into a file in your Dropbox folder.

Q. Most blogs are just electronic diaries; who, except maybe friends and family, would be interested in that?
That's true: many blogs are of no interest to anyone but their creators. Most diaries fall into this category. However, even diaries can be of interest if they are well-written. More generally, many blogs are really either collections of essays or contain 1 or more in-progress books in them. For example, Paul Graham's Hackers and Painters is a well-regarded book, which is a collection of essays which were originally published on his blog. In the Leanpub example, both Startup Lessons Learned and Venture Hacks are good reading, even though they were produced with no editing by their authors at all. However, we don't think that most Leanpub books will be produced with no editing. Instead, we expect that authors will import their blogs as a starting point, and then go through the process of "curating" their posts: deleting the "I just had a great lunch" type of posts, and editing, rearranging and expanding others. At the end of this process, you have a manuscript. The great thing is that you get to sell as you go, and get real feedback from readers (as well as money)...

Q. What if I have posts in my blog that aren't relevant?
You would just delete these posts entirely by deleting the files from your Dropbox folder and removing their names from Book.txt.

Q. What about photo books?
We don't add much value here. We recomend Lulu or similar services.

Q. Can I change the price of my book after creating it? For example, start cheap, grow the book based on feedback from readers, and increase its price as it's getting more valuable?
Yes, absolutely. You have complete control over the pricing, and we encourage new models of thinking about book development and pricing. This is exactly the model we think will work for many books. Publishing early to get early adopters for feedback and buzz is essential, and setting the price very low at the beginning helps this. You can change the price whenever you want in either direction, but we recommend starting low and increasing it over time so your early adopters don't feel taken.

Also, we support variable prices for books, so you can have a low (or free) minimum price, and a higher suggested price. Then as the book gains traction you can raise the minimum price and/or the suggested price. If your book lives up to the pattern we have seen with multiple books, about a third of people will pay the suggested price, a third will pay the minimum price and a third will pay somewhere in between. Finally, the odd person will pay more than the suggested price, even with your book having a decent spread between minimum and suggested prices. To optimize revenue and readership, you can run experiments where you lower the minimum price and/or raise the suggested price, and see what happens.

Q. If I signed up with you, would I be free to have my finished book printed and sold, separately? I'd get my own ISBN as well as copyright.
Yes! Currently we recommend putting your Leanpub PDF on Lulu. See this book for an example of a Leanpub book on Lulu (the corresponding Leanpub book is here). We take precisely $0 of the revenue you make outside of Leanpub -- whether that's direct PDF sales, print sales, etc :)

Q: What's the best way to make and send review copies of my book?
The best way to do this is to create coupons for your book. If you go to your book's 'Settings' and select 'Coupons', you can click 'New Coupon' to get started. You can set various parameters for any coupons you create, including coupon price, maximum number of uses, start date and end date. Anyone you give a coupon code to can use it to buy the book from the book's purchase page. If you set the coupon price to zero, they can get the book for free, like a review copy.

Q. Do I need an ISBN to publish my book on Leanpub?
No :)

Q. OK, but should I get an ISBN anyway? Do I need more than one ISBN, for example do I need separate ISBNs for EPUB, MOBI and PDF versions of my book?
Whether or not to get an ISBN is a tricky question. It can depend on country (some countries charge for ISBNs, others don't), on what you want to do with your book, on how you want to track your book's sales, where and how you want your book reviewed, etc. etc. etc. We have also heard contradictory accounts of whether or not you need a separate ISBN for each ebook format in which you publish your book.

Briefly, here is the Leanpub position on whether or not you should get an ISBN:

  1. You definitely do not need an ISBN until your book is finished. So while you're writing and publishing your book-in-progress using Leanpub, we recommend you don't worry about ISBNs - just focus on your writing!
  2. Start worrying about getting an ISBN only when you discover you absolutely need one. For example, if you are going to publish your book using other 'channels' like Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu or CreateSpace, under certain circumstances you will be required to provide an ISBN. At that point, you'll know you need one, and you'll know why, and you can ask whoever's requiring the ISBN what they need.

Q. How do you make your money?
We take the money from people who buy your book, and give you 90%, minus a 50 cent flat fee, of it. (Currently we do PayPal royalty transfers monthly, once an amount of $40 is reached.) You can tell how many people bought your book: you see a list of every sale (including the date purchased, the total paid and your royalty) on your book sales page.

Q. What happens if a library wants to buy my book?
At Leanpub, we don't have a purchasing program for libraries. This is for a number of reasons, the main one being that many of our books are published while they are still in-progress. When a library does express interest in purchasing an individual book, we forward on the request to the author, who makes the decision to sell or not.

Please note that we do love libraries! Leanpub books belong to their authors, not to Leanpub, and we're simply letting our authors choose what they want to do with library sales.

Q. I'd like to use Git and GitHub when I write my book, besides syncing with Dropbox. Do I have to write a script to only copy the content files into the Leanpub Dropbox folder?
No, it's even easier than that! We don't download any .git directories or .gitignore files from the folder you use with Dropbox, so your Leanpub Dropbox folder can just be a Git repository that you also push to GitHub! Whenever you click the publish button we just pull all the new stuff (ignoring .git, .gitignore and any other dot files) from Dropbox, and everything just works. This is the workflow that Peter Armstrong, Leanpub's co-founder, is doing with his Lean Publishing book, and it works fine.

Q. How do I update the cover image on my book page?
Just do a preview or publish and the book page will update with whatever title page is in your book, whether that's a title_page.png or title_page.jpg file you put in manuscript/images, or whether it's the automatically-generated title page we create if you don't provide a title page image.

Q. I'd like to use Leanpub to help an elderly parent create a book, but he's not computer savvy. Is this a good use of Leanpub? Is there anything you can do to help?
It's a great use of Leanpub. We're glad to help, but the good news is that we don't need to do anything special here. The following process will work for you:

  1. Create a new Leanpub account & book for your father. You can use his email address for this.
  2. Presumably he does not have a Dropbox account. Assuming this is true, when his email address gets the Dropbox sharing request from Leanpub, have him forward the email to you. You can either:
    a) just accept the sharing request using your Dropbox account
    b) accept the sharing request by creating a new Dropbox account for him, then send your Dropbox account a sharing request on his Dropbox folder
  3. Regardless of how you did #2, you're good to go. You can edit his book on your computer using your Dropbox account. Whenever you want to publish a new version for him, just login as him and click publish.
  4. Note that the book will sync with the Dropbox account that accepted the sharing request in #2, so you will see the generated books a bit faster if you just use your Dropbox account, since there won't be an extra Dropbox sync step through an intermediate Dropbox account.

If this doesn't make sense, please email hello@leanpub.com and we'll be glad to help.

Q. I am using vim to write my Leanpub book and I'm having issues with code snippet markup. Can you help?
Switch to Emacs.

Just kidding!

A Leanpub author shared this:
I just want to share a little fix I made to the markdown syntax in order to make it working with the code markup that this wonderful service requires when you want to insert a snippet of code in your books.

Just create a markdown.vim file in your .vim/after/syntax dir and add the following lines:
syn match markdownLeanCode '^<<(.*)$'
hi def link markdownLeanCode markdownH1

Now your code snippets won't mess up with the official markdown syntax provided by Vim

Q. Does Leanpub accept Erotica and Fan Fiction?
Yes, we do, though there are some special rules, which you can read below. If these rules are too onerous for you or you have any questions, please let us know.
If your book is Erotica and/or Fan Fiction it must be categorized as such, as special rules apply to those.

A Note About Cover Images
All cover images must be non-offensive and G-rated, regardless of book category. If we receive any complaints about a cover image, or if we notice it and determine that it is offensive or not G-rated, we will rename it and regenerate your book so that your book reverts to the default cover image. (To add a cover image, you create a file called title_page.jpg or title_page.png in your manuscript/images directory.)

Special Rules for Categories
Not only does categorizing your book help readers to discover it, but there are some additional rules and features for certain categories. In particular, special rules apply to books categorized as Erotica or Fan Fiction.

Special Rules for Books in the Erotica Category

  1. Books categorized as Erotica cannot contain any images in the book manuscripts themselves. Our book generator will ignore any image tags in the body of an Erotica book. (Leanpub is not in the business of publishing erotic or pornographic images, and since we do not read our books before they are published this is our best attempt at a reasonable policy.)
  2. Books categorized as Erotica will have their own category bestseller list instead of showing up in the main Leanpub bestseller list.
  3. The Erotica category will be kept behind an age verification form, in order to prevent inadvertent access by minors.
Special Rules for Books in the Fan Fiction Category

  1. Fan Fiction books are always free. This isn't just a $0 minimum price and a $0 suggested price; we actually do not let people pay for them. The reason here is that Fan Fiction is usually considered a derivative work, so for the protection of the author and of Leanpub we insist that the Fan Fiction is always given away, not sold.
  2. Fan Fiction books must identify the original work(s) upon which they are based.
  3. If the creator or copyright holder of the original work(s) objects to a derivative work of fan fiction, we will take down the book(s) in question.
  4. Books categorized as Fan Fiction will have their own category bestseller list instead of showing up in the main Leanpub bestseller list.
  5. The Fan Fiction category will be kept behind an age verification form, in order to prevent inadvertent access by minors (as much Fan Fiction is also Erotica).
  6. W Fanfic Category Rules Li16
Why support Erotica and Fan Fiction categories at all?
The reason that we support Erotica and Fan Fiction is that we want to be able to publish the next book like Fifty Shades of Grey, both in its original form as fan fiction and in its rewritten commercial form. Why would we want to do this? Well, there are three reasons:

  1. [Dr. Evil voice] We'd be rich!
  2. We like the approach: Fifty Shades of Grey was published using an approach very philosophically similar to what we have always advocated in our %{manifesto}. Specifically, we believe that books should be published as they are written, evolving in public with feedback from their readers. This is an apt description of the approach taken by the author of that book, as well as by many authors of Erotica and Fan Fiction!
  3. There's no middle ground: we either need to support these categories appropriately or censor them. So, we choose to support them, but to have code in place to handle them appropriately.
Think of these categories as subreddits on reddit.com: there are certain subreddits which are not part of the main reddit experience, but which exist happily in their own virtual sandbox.

Q. How do I delete or unpublish a book?
To unpublish a book, click on the 'Actions' tab and then go to 'Book Admin' and click the 'Unpublish Book' button. You can also delete your book there, if you wish to.

Q. Do you recommend any third parties that provide services I might need as a Leanpub author?
Here is a list of third parties that provide services for authors and publishers:

Q. How do I switch between different langauges, in the same book?
We have instructions for how to switch between languages in our manual here.

What is Readmill and how is it useful for me as an author?

Readmill is an ebook reader for the iPad and iPhone that lets you read and share ebooks. Leanpub customers can add their books to their Readmill accounts with just one click. To see this feature, go to your Leanpub Dashboard and click on the 'Services' tab.

You can claim an author page at Readmill by going here. They have a number of features that help you build a community of readers for your book.

Q. Sorry for all the questions!
Don't apologize -- thank you! We absolutely love customer questions and feedback. Please email any and all feedback to hello@leanpub.com. Everyone in our company reads the email sent to that address.