Table of Contents
- How to Start a Book from Your Blog
- Step One: Create a New Book and Import Your Blog
- Leanpub Homepage
- New Book Page
- Help Page
- Progress Bar
- Import Your Blog
- Step Two: Create a Preview and Edit Your Book
- About the Book
- Your Book’s Landing Page (Web Page)
- About the Author
- Editing the Ebook Preview
- Viewing The Book Sample
- Adding Content To and Editing Your Book
- Adding a Cover Image
- Deleting a Chapter/Section
- Section Headings / Creating a New Section
- Creating a New Section / Chapter
- Editing the Book Sample
- Setting Your Book’s Pricing
- Suggested Hashtag
- Stealth Mode
- Review Changes To Your Ebook
- Step Three: Publish Your Book
- Publishing the Latest Version of Your Book
- Leanpub’s Royalty Structure
- Marketing Your Book
In this book we will show you how to make and publish a Leanpub book from your blog.
Rather than simply setting out some dry instructions, in this book and the accompanying video we hope you’ll follow along by going through the process yourself. (The latest video and more information can be found at http://leanpub.com/help).
In the following chapters, we’ll walk you step-by-step through:
- creating a new book
- importing your blog posts
- editing your content
- publishing your book
One last thing before you get started: like many other Leanpub books, this one is also a ‘living’ book that will be changed in response to reader comments and suggestions. So if there’s anything you’d like us to cover that we missed, or if you have any suggestions for improvement, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Leanpub Team
How to Start a Book from Your Blog
In this book we explain how to create and publish a Leanpub ebook from your blog.
This book follows the Leanpub video ‘How to Start a Book with Your Blog’, in which Leanpub’s Len Epp shows you how to create a new book in Leanpub and then import your blog with the click of a button, and how to edit and publish the resulting ebook. You’ll learn about a number of Leanpub features, like easily creating a landing page / web page for your book, setting the minimum and suggested price, and more!
Making an ebook from your blog using Leanpub allows you to find hidden value in your existing content. Whether you make a ‘best of’ book from your favourite blog posts, or group them according to themes or years, your readers will appreciate the effort you’ve put into curating your work and making it available as an ebook.
Yes, people will pay to buy books even when the content is available for free online! They do so for a number of reasons: because they like the coherence of the book format, because the work you’ll do to curate your book will be an improvement to your online content, and because they want to show you their appreciation for your work.
Finally, if you’re working on a ‘living’ book - one that you’ll be updating every once in a while with new posts as long you’re keeping your blog alive - your readers will appreciate getting updated versions of your ever-expanding ebook for free.
While there are a number of steps described in this section, like signing in to your account, the process of creating a book from your blog is actually very simple. Once you’ve set up a new, blank book in Leanpub, all you’ll need to do is paste in your blog’s URL or RSS feed, click a button, and presto! Your blog posts will have been made into an ebook, ready for you to curate.
The three steps to creating a Leanpub book from your blog are:
Step One: Create a New Book and Import Your Blog
The first step is to go to Leanpub’s homepage at leanpub.com and click ‘Sign In’ at the top right of the page.
This takes you to a page where you’ll be prompted to enter your Leanpub email address or Username, and the password for your Leanpub account, and finally to click the ‘Sign In’ button.
Once you’ve signed in, you’ll be taken to your Dashboard page, where you’ll see all the Leanpub books you’re currently working on.
Now it’s time to create the template files and folders for your new Leanpub ebook. To do that, just scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Create Another Leanpub Book Now!’
New Book Page
This takes you to the New Book page, where you’ll be prompted to enter some basic information about your book.
Enter Book Name
First you’ll be asked to create a title for your book. You can always change this at a later time. Since for now you’re just making a book to test out Leanpub, you can call it whatever you like. In the video, the book is called I Like Cats!
Enter Book URL
At this stage you’ll also be asked to enter a URL for your book. This is the address of the web page that Leanpub will automatically create for your book. Until you have your first sale, you can change this URL at any time. It can’t have any spaces and it’s best to keep it all in lower-case letters, since that looks better in Internet browser address bars. This will be the landing page or public staging area for your book, and you want it to look great!
Select Book Style
The last thing you’ll need to do is select a ‘Book Style’. Leanpub has three default book styles, Business, Fiction and Technical, each of which has different default settings for things like page size, font size, and other parameters. You can change the book style at any time, and you can also play with a number of formatting options available within each book style. In the video, we went with the plain Business style.
Here’s an image from the video of the completed New Book page:
Click ‘Create Book’
Now that you’ve filled everything in, it’s time to create the template files for your new book! Just scroll to the bottom of the page and click this button:
Once you’ve clicked the link in the email to confirm your account, you’ll (helpfully) be taken to the Leanpub authors Help page as a starting point. At the top of the page, you’ll see all the Leanpub book tools and online services you’ll need to import your blog and curate your new book, especially ‘Settings’, ‘Preview’, and ‘Publish’.
At the top of the page you’ll also see the handy blue Leanpub progress bar, which shows up whenever you’ve given Leanpub a task to complete. In just a moment, you’ll see Leanpub complete all the steps in the creation of the template files and folders for your new book! When it’s done, the progress bar will indicate that the book creation process is complete:
Before you can start adding your own content to the ‘skeleton’ book Leanpub has already created for you, you’ll need to get access to the Dropbox folder Leanpub has created for your new book.
Leanpub works with Dropbox by setting up a shared folder for your book online. Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage and file synchronization, and you can sign up to use it for free. When you’re working on a shared folder in Dropbox, any changes you make on your computer are synchronized online. That means that the next time you save a change on your computer, Dropbox registers the change, and Leanpub will be working from your very latest files.
To access the shared Dropbox folder that Leanpub has created for your book, go to your email inbox. There you’ll find a Dropbox sharing request email from the Leanpub Bookbot.
The image below shows the confirmation email you’ll see in the video; obviously your email inbox will look different, but the email will be from Leanpub and the subject will start with ‘Leanpub BookBot wants to share…’.
Open the email, scroll to the bottom and click the blue ‘View’ link and you’ll sync your Dropbox folder on your computer with the new folder for your book.
At this point you’ll be taken to a sign in page for Dropbox (unless you’re already signed in to your Dropbox account). Once you’re signed in, you’ll be prompted to accept a Dropbox sharing request.
Once you’ve accepted the shared folder invitation for your book, Dropbox will get to work syncing your computer with the shared folder, which exists online. Whenever Dropbox has finished syncing the files on your computer with the online folder, you will see a green checkmark in the Dropbox icon in your computer’s menu bar.
Import Your Blog
Now it’s time to import your blog! First, go to your blog and copy the blog’s URL or the RSS feed address.
Next, go back to Leanpub and click on Import, which you’ll find in the book tools near the top of the page. This will take you to the Import page. Once you’re there, paste the URL into the box called ‘RSS Feed Address’:
You’ll note here that you can choose to include or exclude any images/pictures from your blog. By default, Leanpub assumes you want to import all your pictures.
You can also set the date range for the posts you’d like to import from your blog. By default, Leanpub will import all your posts. However, if you’re creating a ‘Best of 2011’ book, for example, you might just want to import the posts from that year.
Also, after you’ve published your book, you might want to update date it with new posts from your blog. We’ve built in a cool feature to help you do this: the next time you import from your blog, Leanpub will remember the end date of your previous import, and set that as the start date for your new import. You can change the date of course, but it’s helpful to see a reminder of the last time you imported.
** Click ‘Start Import’**
Now you’re ready to import your blog! Just click on the button below to get the process started.
Step Two: Create a Preview and Edit Your Book
AFter you click ‘Start Import’, Leanpub actually carries out two discrete tasks.
First, Leanpub imports your blog and converts your content into Markdown, the text format that Leanpub uses to generate ebooks.
You’ll learn more about Markdown as you become more familiar with writing on Leanpub. Essentially, it’s a really simple way of formatting books so that the formatting appears correctly in different ebook formats (PDF, EPUB and MOBI). For more information about formatting in Markdown, you can check out the Markdown ‘syntax’ page at http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/.
Second, Leanpub creates a ‘Preview’ of your book based on your imported blog posts.
A Preview is a version of your book that only you can see. You generate Previews whenever you’ve made changes to your content or formatting and you’d like to see how they look in the ebook. Essentially, a Preview is a kind of ‘working copy’ of your book. When you’re happy to release your book to the public for the first time, or when you’ve updated the book and want to release the latest version to the public, that’s when you’ll go to the Publish page in the book tools - but more on that later!
Previews are created in all three ebook formats that Leanpub produces for published books, namely PDF, MOBI and EPUB. PDF files can be read on any computer using a PDF viewer like Preview (for Macs) or Adobe Reader (which you can download for free). EPUB format ebooks are for the iPad and a number of specialized ebook readers. The MOBI format is used for reading ebooks on the Amazon Kindle. So your Leanpub ebook will be available to be read on a number of different devices in a variety of formats.
About the Book
Before we take a look at the first Preview of your book, let’s first enter some information about your book on Leanpub. This information will appear on your book’s landing page, which we’ll be moving on to shortly.
To add or edit content about your book, click on Settings in your book tools. This takes you to the General tab on the Settings page. This is the most important book tool you have for changing the parameters of the book you’re making, and for adding details to your book’s web page. It’s here that you can change the book title, add a subtitle, change the book’s URL (until your first sale!), font size, page size, and a number of other details!
When you scroll down a bit, you’ll find the ‘About the Book’ section, where you can enter information that will appear on your book’s landing page:
Whenever you’ve made changes to the Settings page, please scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Update Book’ button to make sure the changes are implemented:
Your Book’s Landing Page (Web Page)
This will take you to your book’s ‘landing page’ or public web page, the one Leanpub created as soon as you clicked ‘Create My Account and Book’.
Here’s a screenshot of the example landing page created in the video:
On the landing page, you’ll see:
- the book’s title (and subtitle, if there is one)
- a red box indicating that the book is currently unpublished
- the author name
- a section where a visitor to the landing page can enter her name and email address, and the price she’d be willing to pay for the book, and a green button she can click so she can be notified when the book is published
- an ‘About the Author’ section which will, by default, include any information about yourself that you’ve entered in your account (we’ll work on this a bit later)
- an ‘About the Book’ section (which we just updated on the Settings page)
Here’s a screenshot of the ‘About the Book’ section, with the ‘About the Author’ section on the right:
About the Author
There are two ways to change the information displayed in the ‘About the Author’ section of your book’s landing page.
1. Change Your Account Profile: By default the ‘About the Author’ section displays the information you have entered about yourself in your Leanpub account profile.
2. Change The Custom Blurb On The Settings Page: If you go to the Settings page and stay on the General tab, scroll down and you’ll find a place to enter information under the heading ‘Custom About the Author Blurb (optional)’. This section overrides the ‘About You’ section in your Leanpub account profile for this book. This is useful if, say, you mostly publish professional books on Leanpub, but also want to write a book about your hobby. By overriding the ‘About You’ account information, with the Custom About the Author Blurb you can let readers know about what your specific qualifications are with respect to the particular topic you’re writing about.
Here’s what we did in the video:
After you’ve entered some information here, don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Update Book’ button as always!
Now, when you go back to the book’s landing page, you’ll see your custom blurb information, instead of your account profile information, in the About the Author section:
Editing the Ebook Preview
Now let’s go back to the Preview page in the book tools. Leanpub should have finished creating your Preview by now, so you can see what your new ebook looks like! If the Preview is ready, you’ll see links where you can download the full Preview or the Book Sample in the three ebook formats:
You’ll note on this page that whenever Leanpub generates Previews, it makes Previews of both your ‘Full Book’ and your ‘Book Sample’. The ‘Full Book’ is, naturally enough, your complete book. The ‘Book Sample’ is an ebook that Leanpub generates from just a small part of your full book, and is made available for free download to readers who come to your book’s landing page. You can decide what to include in the Book Sample (we’ll be showing you how to easily edit its contents below), or you can decide not to make a sample available at all.
However, we do encourage you to make a free sample available. This replicates an important part of the traditional book buying process. In a physical bookstore, a reader can go in, browse the shelves, and actually take down your book, maybe read a blurb about it on the back, and see some information about you, the author. All of these ‘features’ are provided virtually on Leanpub, via its Bestsellers page and your book’s landing page. But the reader in a physical bookstore can also open up the book and take a look at some of the contents, to see if they like your writing. The Book Sample on Leanpub is the virtual version of this feature of buying a book the traditional way, and potential readers really appreciate the chance to get a look inside before they buy.
To view a Preview of your full book, just click on the .pdf link. This will download the Preview to your computer, and it should open in your default PDF reader.
Here’s a screenshot of the first thing we you see when the book is opened in the video:
(Please note that in these screenshots, taken from the video, we’ll be looking at the PDF in Preview. This will look different if you’re using a different PDF viewer, like Adobe Reader).
The second page of your Preview will be the ‘verso’ page that Leanpub generates with some standard publication information, including the date on which this version of your book was created:
The next page you’ll see is the Contents page, which Leanpub also generates automatically. At this point, you’ll see a section called ‘Chapter One’, which was created as part of the default new book template, and you’ll see a second heading for ‘April 2012’, with subsections for each of the posts:
By default Leanpub organizes your posts according to months, but you can actually split your posts up however you like by changing or adding new section headings.
If you click on sections in the Contents page, you’ll navigate directly to that page in the ebook.
The next page is the default Chapter One text that Leanpub inserts in every new book template:
And finally you’ll see section with the imported blog posts:
Note that the main header, for the month, is in large bold type, and the subsection headers (i.e. the title of each post) are in slightly smaller bold type.
In the following sections, we’re going to show you how to make some changes to your Preview. We’ll show you how to insert a cover image, how to delete Chapter One, and how to create a new section header (for May 2012) and put some posts in that section.
Viewing The Book Sample
Before we do that, though, let’s take a look at the Book Sample that Leanpub generated. To do this, go back to the Preview page in Leanpub and click on the .pdf link the in Book Sample section:
You’ll see that the Book Sample is almost exactly the same as your Full Book; for example, here’s a screenshot from the video of Chatper One in the Book Sample:
The difference between the Book Sample and the Full Book is that the Book Sample just includes the default Chapter One that Leanpub generates, and none of your blog posts. this just reflects an implicit suggestion by Leanpub that your Sample Book should be just that, a sample, and include only a part of your book.
Below, we’ll show you how to edit your Book Sample so it includes exactly the content you want it to include.
Adding Content To and Editing Your Book
Now let’s take a look at the shared folder that was created for your book using Dropbox. In the video we’re using a Mac, so we navigate to different folders using the Finder; if you’re using a PC, this will look different, as you’ll be using Windows Explorer.
When you navigate to your Dropbox folder, you’ll find a folder in it for your book; in the video our example book folder is ‘ilikecats (3)’. In that folder you’ll find the ‘manuscript’ folder, which is the all-important folder where all the files with your book’s content are kept:
Adding a Cover Image
Adding a cover image to a Leanpub book is easy, but you have to have a cover image ready in the first place! For now, let’s just use the default cover image that Leanpub provides in its sample books. To download the sample book for a ‘Business’ style book, go to Leanpub’s Help page and click on the ‘business’ link:
After you open the zipped file (you should be able to do this by just double-clicking on the file you downloaded) you go into the ‘manuscript’ folder and then into the ‘images’ folder, you’ll find a file called ‘title_page.jpg’. You can just copy that file and then paste it into the ‘images’ folder in your book’s manuscript folder:
When you generate a Preview on Leanpub, it looks in the ‘images’ folder to see if you have a cover image. Specifically, it looks for a file called ‘title_page.jpg’ or ‘title_page.png’ (jpg and png are two different image formats). So if you create a cover image, just rename it ‘title_page.jpg’ and put it in the ‘images’ folder for your book, and it will be the new cover image for your book.
Next time you create a Preview, you’ll see this image will be used to create the cover for your book.
Please note that different book styles have different size requirements for cover pages. You can find these requirements in The Leanpub Manual and on the Leanpub Documentation page at http://leanpub.com/docs, but don’t worry about it for now - just play around with this default cover image to see how this process works.
Deleting a Chapter/Section
Now let’s delete that default Chapter One. There are two steps to deleting sections.
First, in the ‘manuscript’ folder for your book, select the ‘chapter1.txt’ file:
… and just throw it in the Trash!
Now for the really important part! When Leanpub generates a Preview from the content in your ‘manuscript’ folder, it needs to know which files to include, and in which order.
This function is carried out using the ‘Book.txt’ file that Leanpub creates in your ‘manuscript’ folder:
‘Book.txt’ is a list of the files that you want included in your book, in the order that you want them to appear. Here’s what it looks like:
Pretty simple eh? Remember, the Preview we looked at just had two main section: Chapter One and April 2012, and then the four blog posts after that. When the Preview was generated, Leanpub looked in ‘Book.txt’ and saw that these items were in the list, and in that order, and so generated the Preview by using the content in those files, in that order.
What this means is that you can actually have content in your ‘manuscript’ folder that isn’t included in your ebook. Only the files listed in ‘Book.txt’ will appear in your book. This is useful if you’re working on new chapters that you don’t yet want to include in the latest version of your book, for example. You don’t have to take the file out of ‘manuscript’; you can just take it out of the list of files in ‘Book.txt’.
So, in order to get rid of Chapter One, you first delete the file and then delete the reference to the file in Book.txt. Here’s a screenshot of the file after deleting the reference to ‘chapter1.txt’:
Section Headings / Creating a New Section
Let me just explain a bit about section headings. Remember, in the Preview, April 2012 appeared as a section heading. That section heading came from the file in your ‘manuscript’ folder called ‘april2012.txt’:
If we open up that text file, here’s what we’ll find:
See that number sign # before ‘April 2012’? The number sign tells Leanpub that what follows is the text for a ‘header’. The ‘header’ appears in the Table of Contents and as bold text, in a large font size, before the text that follows.
So when Leanpub created the Preview, when it looked at the ‘april2012.txt’ file, it only found this:
/# April 2012
… and so that’s what it created: a header with the text ‘April 2012’. You can create separate text files for section headings like this if you like, which can help you set up the list of your files in Book.txt, since you can see which blog posts appear after under which headings.
Creating a New Section / Chapter
So, to create a new section, you can just open a new text file and type in a new header. In the video, we made a new file lik this:
As you can see, all we did was type in:
# May 2012
…and then saved the file as ‘may2012.txt’ in the ‘manuscript’ folder:
Now, just type ‘may2012.txt’ in your Book.txt file, like this:
… and save the change. The next time Leanpub creates a Preview, it will create a header called ‘May 2012’ in the order you specify. In the example from the video, this will make the two blog posts ‘Dogs Are OK Too’ and ‘Cats = Internet Success’ appear in the ‘May 2012’ section.
Editing the Book Sample
Next, let’s confirm the content we want to be included in our Book Sample, which will also be created next time we generate a Preview of the book.
To tell Leanpub what to include in the Book Sample, you use the file ‘Sample.txt’ (which is also in your ‘manuscript’ folder) in exactly the same way you use ‘Book.txt’. ‘Sample.txt’ is a list of the files in the ‘manuscript’ folder that you want to appear in your Book Sample, in the order you want them to appear. So if we open up the ‘Sample.txt’ file currently in the ‘manuscript’ folder, here’s what we’ll find:
… which makes sense of course, because the PDF of the Book Sample we looked at earlier only had the one chapter.
Since we’re making a blog-based book divided up by months, it might make sense to include a single month’s worth of content in the Book Sample.
In the video we show you a neat way to do this. We delete ‘Sample.txt’ from the ‘manuscript’ folder, and then we make copy the contents of ‘Book.txt’. The we just create a new file called ‘Sample.txt’ and paste in the contents we copied from ‘Book.txt’, and then delete from the list the lines we don’t want, leaving this:
If we save that file in our book’s ‘manuscript’ folder, the next time Leanpub creates a Preview, it will look at the ‘Sample.txt’ file and produce a Book Sample from that list of files. In the example in the video, this means only the April 2012 header and the two posts underneath it, ‘Cats Are Fuzzy’ and ‘Kittens Are Great Too’, will appear in the Book Sample.
Once you save this change and see the green checkmark in the Dropbox icon on your computer, you’re ready to create a new Preview of the book, to see the impact of these changes! To do that, just go back to your Internet browser and back to the Preview page in Leanpub, and click the ‘Create a Preview of My Book’ button.
While Leanpub is creating that new Preview, let me show you some more Leanpub features.
Setting Your Book’s Pricing
Since we’re almost ready to publish our book, it’s time to set the pricing. In order to do that, go back to the Settings page in the book tools, and scroll down until you see the ‘Minimum Book Price’ and ‘Suggested Book Price’ sections. Let’s change the Minimum Book Price to $10.00 and the Suggested Book Price to $15.00:
The reason you set two prices is that Leanpub uses ‘variable pricing’. In the more familiar model of buying things, a buyer is just given one sticker price, and that’s it, take it or leave it. With variable pricing, a buyer is presented with a suggested price, and then chooses how much she wants to pay. She can just accept the suggested price, or she can pay less, down to the minimum price amount. But she can also pay more, and we find that buyers do often do that. We suggest you experiment a bit with your pricing, since you can sometimes get surprising results.
For example, lowering the suggested price can often mean you make more money, because people think the suggested price is too low, and they opt to pay more. That means that if your initial suggested price is, say, $15, people might feel that’s too steep, and go down to your minimum price of $10. But if you lower your suggested price to $12, people might feel that’s too low, and instead opt to pay you $17.
Please note that with Leanpub, your minimum book price can be as low as zero, but the next lowest price is $0.99 - that’s because financial transactions cost money, and at a price above zero but below $0.99, we’d actually be losing money on every sale.
If you scroll down the page further, you’ll find a section called ‘Suggested Hashtag (Optional). In this section, you can enter a suggested ‘hashtag’ that will be inserted into your book in a new page called ‘Tweet This Book!’. This page will be inserted near the beginning of your book, after the ‘verso’ page, and is designed to encourage readers to use Twitter to spread the word about your book. But composing a Tweet that includes your suggested hashtag, a reader can start a discussion about your book and bring attention to your work.
It’s usually good to select a hashtag that’s similar to the title of your book. Here’s the hashtag we chose in the video:
If you scroll down a bit further, you’ll find a neat Leanpub feature called ‘Stealth Mode’:
If you tick the ‘Stealth Mode’ box, that means no one will be able to see your book’s landing page. You may want to use this if you’re not ready to tell the world about your book yet. As soon as you are ready, say just before you publish the first version of your book, you can just untick this box, and then your book’s landing page will be visible to the public.
In the video, we don’t tick the box, because we’re just about ready to pubish!
One last thing: before you leave this page, make sure to click the ‘Update Book’ button to make sure the changes you’ve made to this page are registered:
Note that when you go back to your book’s landing page after updating the price settings, you still won’t see them appear, because your book has not been published yet.
Review Changes To Your Ebook
So, we’ve generated a new Preview of the book after making some changes, and now it’s time for us to review the impact of those changes and confirm everything’s ok, before we go ahead and publish.
To do this, you can go back to the Preview page in the book tools and click on the .pdf link for the Full Book, just like we did earlier. But that would in fact be a bit redundant - because all your ebook files are already on your computer!
If you go look at your book folder in Dropbox, you’ll see a file called ‘preview’. Every time Leanpub creates a new Preview of your book, it puts copies of the latest files (in all three ebook formats) in this folder. Here’s how it looks in the video:
Now double-click on the .pdf for your full book (it’s the one that doesn’t have the word ‘sample’ in the file title) to review the changes you made:
Right away you’ll notice a big change - now you have a title page for your book! In this case of course it’s the Sample Business Book image we downloaded from Leanpub, but now that you know how to do this, you can replace it with your own cover image anytime.
To see another change, check out the Contents page:
Now instead of seeing ‘Chapter One’ and ‘April 2012’ followed by all for post/subsection titles, you’ll see two sections, ‘April 2012’ and ‘May 2012’, each of which has two posts under it.
Let’s look at this side-by-side with the list we made in Book.txt, to see how Book.txt determines what appears in the ebook:
As you can see, the structure of the book reflects the order of the files you type in Book.txt.
We explained how to format headers earlier: just put a number sign # in front of the text for the header. But we also mentioned that the titles of the blog posts are imported as subsection headings.
Subsection headings are indicated with two number signs ## like this:
## Cats are fuzzy
So if we look in the ‘catsarefuzzy.txt’ file, we’ll see the subsection heading, followed by the content of the post:
Now let’s check out the Book Sample. You’ll remember we set ‘Sample.txt’ so that Leanpub would only pick up the files ‘April.txt’ and the .txt files for the first two posts.
To open the .pdf of the Book Sample, go back and find it in the ‘preview’ folder for your book:
Here’s a screenshot from the video of the table of contents from the Book Sample (zooming in), set next to the contents of the ‘Sample.txt’ file:
So everything looks good! The book may still be in progress, but that shouldn’t prevent us from making it public, and starting to get feedback from readers, and develop a following. It’s time to publish our book!
Step Three: Publish Your Book
Publishing the Latest Version of Your Book
To publish the book, click on the Publish link in your book tools. This will take you to the following page:
One thing you’ll notice right away is that there is a section here for ‘Release Notes’. When your book is published, anyone who clicked the green button on your book’s landing page asking to be notified of publication, will be sent an email from Leanpub telling them that your book is now available. If you want to send them a customized message, you can enter it here - telling them that this is the first version of your book, or the latest version, or the final version, or whatever you like.
In this case we know no one has signed up for this book, so let’s just leave this section empty, and go directly to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Publish My Book’ button.
Now you’ll see Leanpub’s progress bar telling you that it’s on its way to publishing your book!
Leanpub’s Royalty Structure
In the meantime, here’s some information about Leanpub’s royalty structure. As soon as your book is published, people will be able to pay for it, so it’s important that you have some information about how much you’re going to get from each sale.
Traditionally, when someone buys a print book, they go to a book store and pay the sticker price. Let’s say that you’ve had your book published in print and the sticker price is $20. When someone buys the book, half their money goes to the bookstore and other middlemen, leaving 50% for your publisher, or in this case $10. In a typical publishing contract, an author might get 10%. But that’s not 10% of the sale price - that’s 10% of the publisher’s take. So in this example, when someone pays $20 for your print book, you get $1.
Now, let’s say you’re also selling your content as an ebook on Leanpub. Since it’s an ebook and not a print book, people would expect the price to be lower, so let’s say that in this case you set the price at $10 (which is the minimum price we set earlier for the book we’re working on right now). With Leanpub’s royalty structure of 90% - 50 cents (per transaction, to take care of transaction costs), you’d get $8.50 of the buyer’s $10.
Just to put that in some perspective, let’s say you sold 12 copies of your book as a Leanpub ebook. Then you’d make $8.50 x 12 = $102. But you’d have to sell 100 copies of your book in print form, with a traditional publisher, in order to make $100, since your take would be just $1 per print book sale. And that’s true even assuming that the price of a print book is twice the price of an ebook!
Let’s go back to the Publish page in Leanpub to see if the book we’re working on has been published:
Cool! Before we look at the book, we’d just like to point out that now if you go back to your book folder in Dropbox, you’ll find a ‘published’ folder has been created, containing copies of your published ebook and the Book Sample:
The published book will look exactly like the last preview you looked at. In this case, however, that’s not quite true. Remember how we used the Leanpub ‘suggested hashtag’ feature on the Settings page? Well, we did that after we had started generating the last preview. So in your published book, now you’ll find this page:
… which will also appear in your published Book Sample.
Let’s go back to Leanpub. Now you can just click on ‘Your Book’ in the top left (in the book tools):
… in order to see the impact this has had on your book’s landing page:
As you can see things are quite different. Now the red ‘Unpublished’ box is gone next to your book’s title, and so are the boxes where interested readers could ask to be notified of your book’s publication. Instead, there’s a green button that says ‘Buy the ebook now!’, and underneath the button there’s a link allowing readers to download your Book Sample free, in PDF format. Also, readers can see the minimum and suggested price for the book.
When someone wants to buy your book, they click on the green button and are taken to the following page:
On this page, you’ll see something really cool: Leanpub’s variable pricing ‘sliders’. The top slider lets buyers set the price they’re going to pay for the book. In this case, the suggested price for the book is $15, so that’s where the slider starts. If the buyer wants to pay less, she can grab the slider and drag it to the left, until she gets to your minimum price:
But the buyer can also drag the slider to the right to pay more, or they can just type in the amount they want to pay by clicking on the price:
And when the buyer is happy with the price she’s selected, she just scrolls to the bottom of the page and clicks on the PayPal link. Just one last thing about pricing: you may have noticed that in addition to the ‘You Pay’ slider on top, there’s also an ‘Author Earns’ slider on the bottom. The two sliders move in tandem: when you drag the ‘You Pay’ slider to pay more, you see that the ‘Author Earns’ amount is also going up.
This is a really powerful tool, and a big change in the way people think about what they’re doing when they’re buying something. For example, one thing we found after we put these sliders on our site, was that people were paying odd prices for books, like $11.67. When we looked into it to see what was going on, we discovered something pretty neat. People weren’t selecting the price they were going to pay; they were selecting how much they wanted to give the author.
In the $11.67 example, what was happening was that buyers were choosing to give authors $10.00 even:
Which is pretty cool!
Marketing Your Book
Now that your book is published, it’s time to tell the world about it. We’re not going to spend a lot of time here telling you how to market your book. But since you already have a landing page set up for your book, you’re already well on your way. Just copy and paste the URL from the landing page and head over to Twitter, and/or Facebook, or whatever social networking site your prefer, paste in the URL (and your suggested hashtag!) and send a message to your followers to get the ball rolling.
Thanks very much for reading this section, and thanks for being a Leanpub author!