How to Write & Launch an eBook in 3 Weeks

How to Launch an eBook in 3 Weeks | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Last year when we wrote and launched Building a Framework: Everything I Learned My First Year of Blogging, I absolutely fell in love with the whole eBook process. I have always loved writing, but this was completely different than writing a paper or a journal entry or a short story or something like that.

Writing an eBook felt more like a mission. The writing/launching process was fun and hard and exciting and stressful and amazing and confusing and incredible and exhilarating all rolled into one. Figuring out what to write and how to manage all of the logistics of a launch was pretty intimidating, but Donnie and I did our research, worked out a system, and got it done, and we have all of you to thank for any success that Framework has had so far!

Building a Framework: Everything I Learned My First Year of Blogging | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

After the launch was over, I knew I wanted to do it again sometime, I just wasn’t sure when. We threw some ideas around, thinking we would do another project that would take months of work and planning to complete. Then we decided to write Simplify: 25+ Printables to Help You Organize Your Life in December and launch it in just three weeks. Eeek! I know Donnie thought I was crazy for wanting to do it but since it actually all worked out, we thought it might be helpful to pass along the details of our process to you. Why? Because I know there are so many other bloggers, soon-to-be bloggers, and entrepreneurs out there who have incredible expertise that would be perfect to share in an eBook! I hope that talking about the lessons we’ve learned along the way will help others to dive into the eBook process and share their knowledge with the world as well.

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Before we start, I should note that there are several different ways to write an eBook, and they can all lead to successful launches. Here’s the process that worked for us…

The Idea

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

abby

After we launched Building a Framework, I had been throwing around a bunch of ideas for eBooks on organization or printables, but I never seemed to be able to find the time to do anything with them. Trying to keep up with several posts per week for the blog while still caring for the Cs full time was already a balancing act, so the next eBook just kept being pushed to the back burner. Enter, the guys from Fizzle.co*– Corbett, Chase, and Barrett. We were on a group coaching call with them at the end of December when one of them said, even sort of off-handedly,

Sometimes you just have to take a week, buckle down, and get your product out there.

That’s all it took for me. I wasn’t sure I could put out a product in a week, but the holiday season coming up meant that I could get away with a lighter posting schedule on the blog and could really dive in and create the product that had been milling around in my head for a little while. Even though I knew I wanted to pull it off in a short time period, my top priority was to create a high quality product that would be helpful for my readers. From the feedback I had gotten on the posts for my organizational printables (and because I’m obsessed with them myself!), I knew that having a pretty way to stay organized was important to people. And while I wanted to keep offering some of those resources for free on the blog, I knew it also might be nice to have everything in one place with a unified style as well, so Simplify was born.

Simplify: 25+ Printables to Help You Organize Your Life | JustAGirlAndHereBlog.com/organize

Have you ever had an idea in your head that just won’t leave you alone? That’s how I felt about this book of printables. I was intimidated because I know there are a lot of talented people out there who create organizational printables, and I wondered if mine would ever measure up. I just couldn’t get past this idea, though, so I finally had to go for it. Those ideas that just won’t pass? They’re usually a pretty good indicator of what project you should create. If it’s something that you’re passionate about and would be a solid fit for your audience, you may just have your perfect eBook idea!

{Lesson 1: Stop thinking about it and go for it!}

The Plan

So we had our idea and knew what type of eBook we wanted to write. We also knew that we wanted to launch near the beginning of January since that’s when everyone starts thinking about organization, which meant that we still had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time if we wanted to make this eBook a reality. If this thing was actually going to happen, we would need a plan.

Donnie and I sat down and made two lists (in Google Drive)– one was the list of printables we wanted to include, a basic outline of the book. The other was our launch schedule, which included the all-important launch date and all of the times we wanted to mention Simplify on the blog or via email or social media to let people know the launch was coming up. This gave us a road map to follow to keep us focused and also helped us set deadlines for when we needed to be finished with different aspects of the eBook.

{Lesson 2: Set a launch date and make a plan!}

The Work

I have this tendency to get a teensy bit obsessed with a project once I decide I’m going to do it. This one was no exception. The evening we decided we were definitely going forward with the eBook, I set to work on the printables and within 3 days, they were complete. I always thought I would use a more technical graphic design program if I ever decided to get serious about making printables. This is actually one of the reasons I put off publishing printables in the past, but honestly, I am so comfortable with Word and know so much more about it than other programs that I just decided to make them in there. If I thought that using a simpler program like Word would negatively affect the overall quality of the printables, I would have muddled through in one of the other programs, but after doing some testing and realizing that I could create a beautiful end result in Word, I decided just to run with it.

{Lesson 3: Sometimes you just need to go with what you’re comfortable doing as long as it still gives you a quality end result!}

Next I got started on the explanations of the printables. It was important to me to include explanations because while pretty printables are nice, the power is in the explanations of how you use them. I wanted to encourage and inspire others to actually use these strategies, not just hand them a stack of printables and say “Good luck!”

In order to write this part of the eBook, I had to decide which program I was going to use to format it. I have heard that the very best software to use when formatting an eBook is Adobe InDesign. However, I am not a graphic designer {I just play one on the internet 😉 }, so the thought of learning complicated design software intimidated me. I had formatted Building a Framework in iBooks Author, which I would consider the second best choice, and really liked the look of it; since everything else for Simplify was in Word, though, I ended up formatting in Word, trying to mimic the look of the book I had done in iBooks Author, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

{Lesson 4: Even if the only program you have to work with is Microsoft Word, you can totally use it to write an eBook! Don’t use lack of formatting tools as an excuse not to get writing!} 

While I was doing the writing and creating, Donnie was working on all of the technical stuff, so I’ll let him tell you about that…

donnie

When planning to launch a product, there are quite a few technical details that you need to work through. This can be overwhelming to some people, but trust me when I say that setting up a landing page and picking a payment processor is ten times easier than actually doing the work of creating something valuable that you know will help people. Abby had the hard job, but as she was writing and creating I was busy setting up the systems necessary to get this thing launched! If you want a more extensive “how-to guide” of launching an eBook, please read through this post I wrote last summer after Abby launched Framework.

Landing Page

You need a place to send people to buy your thing, right? Abby and I like to just make a page with a simple url that is easy to remember. We chose justagirlandherblog.com/organize for her new eBook. Coded directly into Abby’s Restored 316 child theme* is a “landing” page template so we just created a new page and selected this built-in template.

landing page template

This template removes the sidebar, the header, the menu, and other elements that can be distracting on a landing page. At this point the landing page isn’t a completely clean canvas. I still have to add a few lines of code to the style.css child theme to remove ads, the footer, and narrow the page a by a little. If that sounds intimidating please know that I am not a coder! I just ask questions on the Genesis forum and kind people help me figure out the necessary code for what I’m trying to accomplish.

The next thing I do is add in a few “buy” buttons to the landing page. If your blog runs on the Genesis Framework this tutorial will show you how to create short-codes in your theme that you quickly add buttons. Once you create these button short-codes you can tweak the styling to match your site. The result is nice, big buttons that change color when you roll over them with your mouse!

custom landing page buttons

After I’ve created some buttons and made a blank canvas, Abby will go in and add pictures, descriptions, graphics, testimonials, FAQs, and embedded sample chapters. That’s all there is to the landing page!

Payment Processing

When launching a product one of the decisions you’ll have to make is deciding how you’ll accept payments and then deliver the product (PDF files in this case) to your customer. There are two great choices that I recommend and have experience with: Gumroad* and SendOwl*.

Things couldn’t get any easier than Gumroad. They make it incredibly easy to upload your product, write a description, pick a price, accept payment, and then deliver the product. All of this happens automatically. I love their interface and the customer support is incredible.

With Gumroad I like to add a little line of code the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin that enables an overlay box right on Abby’s landing page when someone clicks the “buy” button. Someone can purchase the eBook without really ever leaving Abby’s blog.

gumroad purchase overlay

Gumroad doesn’t charge a monthly fee but instead charge 5% plus .25 for every transaction. I think this fee is reasonable for the excellent service they provide. Another upside to Gumroad is that they collect and remit the EU VAT tax for purchasers in Europe without you having to do anything. Previously, we had sales to EU countries disabled to avoid having to figure out all the logistics of filing for VAT, so I’m thankful Gumroad came up with a solution to this problem. You can read more about what VAT is and how Gumroad approaches it here.

From my perspective, there are only two downsides to Gumroad: they don’t accept PayPal and they don’t have an affiliate program solution. If those two things are important to you, I recommend you check out SendOwl*.

sendowl

SendOwl isn’t a payment processor in the same sense that Gumroad is. Instead, SendOwl makes it easy to set up and manage an affiliate program and integrate with other 3rd party payment processors like PayPal and Stripe. With SendOwl you pay a $15 flat monthly fee for this service but then you also have processing fees from PayPal or other services that you have integrated with SendOwl.

SendOwl* really is a good solution. Their platform is powerful and the checkout experience for the customer is almost at the same level as Gumroad*. You can’t go wrong with either of these choices.

Email Autoresponders

This is something that a lot of people miss. It’s important to collect email addresses for everyone who purchases your products. This allows you to quickly contact everyone if there is an important update to the book or some other announcement. One of the things that Abby and I like to do is set up a series of emails that are automatically sent at pre-defined intervals when someone purchases one of her books. There are lots of great email marketing services out there, but we love using MailChimp*. But how do we get emails from Gumroad and SendOwl into Mailchimp when someone makes a purchase?

With SendOwl this is easy. They have direct MailChimp integration so when someone purchases a copy of Simplify, their email address is automatically sent to a specific list we have in MailChimp.

Gumroad doesn’t have this direct integration but I’ve found a solution that costs me $15/month. Zapier integrates various services (Gumroad and MailChimp in this case) and automates various workflows. I setup a “Zap” that triggers when someone purchases Simplify. Zapier then pulls the email address from Gumroad and automatically adds it to your list in MailChimp. How awesome is that?!

zapier gumroad to mailchimp

Of course there are other technical challenges when launching an eBook or other product. You can find a more detailed explanation of all this on our Anatomy of an eBook Launch post. Just know that the technical stuff, while it takes some time, should never derail you from launching your thing. Google is your friend. If you don’t know how to do something just type it in to Google and you’ll likely find your answer.

{Lesson 5: Don’t let the technical stuff intimidate you. You can do this!}

The Promotion

abby

Remember the launch plan I mentioned above? That’s what we put into action to promote the book. To create our schedule, we stared with the launch date– January 12th, in our case– and worked backward. We decided, for example, that we would email our newsletter subscribers the day of the launch to let them know it was live, the day before the launch to let them know what to expect, and one week before the launch to “announce” that Simplify was happening. (Normally we would make the announcement further ahead of time, but we were working with a short timeline.) We also decided that we would give away some of the printables from the book for free within blog posts so that people could get a better idea of what the eBook entailed, and we set the dates for those posts to go out. We added in some social media shares as well, and our launch plan was complete.

{Lesson 6: Make a detailed launch plan and execute every step!}

Something new we decided to try with this launch was a presale. At the end of the 3 organizational posts that had free printables from the eBook included, I mentioned that readers could pre-order the book at a 30% discount and gave them a coupon code to do so. This ended up being a great way to build buzz and make some sales before we even launched. {And it also gave me some confidence when people were willing to preorder– I never know how these things are going to go over! 🙂 }

The Launch

How to Launch an eBook in 3 Weeks | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Unlike with Building a Framework where I felt like I contacted everyone on the internet to help me promote, this was more of a mini launch since we already had the presale, so I asked for the help of my closer blogging Facebook groups that I’m involved in, and they were great about helping to spread the word.

Another thing we rolled out the same day as the launch was our “7 Days to a More Organized Life” Challenge. Readers could sign up to get a series of emails that walked them through some of my basic organizing strategies, essentially a free mini-course to help anyone who was interested get started on the right foot with organization. This gave me the opportunity to mention Simplify a few more times within the emails and drive sales, though I was also sure to direct people to my free printables in case they preferred to use those.

To let people know about the challenge we, for the first time ever, used a pop-up on the blog. The popup, which we created through OptIn Monster*, ran site-wide during launch week, but after that we scaled it back to only show on organization-related posts.

How to Launch an eBook in 3 Weeks | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{Lesson 7: Be creative with your promotion and look for ways to add more value for your readers– especially if that value is free for them! They will appreciate it!}

Post-Launch

Since the launch of Simplify, we’ve continued to run the organizing challenge to get the word out about the eBook, but mostly because we really do think it is helpful information for people, based on the feedback we’ve gotten about it. Sometimes you just need a little extra motivation to get started with organization, and I think a quick 7-day push can really help with that.

We have gone back into old organization posts and added a quick mention about Simplify to try to direct visitors who come over from Pinterest to the eBook’s landing page. We also mention it in new posts where it’s relevant, just to let people know it’s available if it’s something that would be helpful to them.

How to Launch an eBook in 3 Weeks | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{Lesson 8: Find ways to let your posts help promote your products without being overly pushy or sales-y.}

Results

donnie

Like we mentioned before, with Simplify we tried something different — pre-orders. To build buzz we offered a 30% discount to anyone who purchased before the launch date. This was an opportunity to give a good deal to those people who were 100% sure they wanted this organization eBook.

In the 11 days that pre-orders were active, we made 150 sales for $1,083. People entered their credit card information into Gumroad but they weren’t actually charged until launch morning when they would receive an email notification that their book was ready.

Abby and I were pleased with how the pre-sale went. I’m not sure it’s something we’ll offer on every product we make and sell, but I’m sure we’ll use at again at some point.

Including pre-sales, since Simplify launched near the beginning of January, we’ve sold 418 copies of the eBook for a total of $3,748. Abby and I are happy with that! She’s received so much positive feedback about how helpful these organizational printables are.

To be honest, we don’t sell nearly as many copies of Simplify as we do of her first eBook, Framework. But that’s ok! This was a product that had been on Abby’s mind for a while and she knew it would be a tremendous help for many. She just wanted to get it out into the world.

You can see from the chart below that after launch week, sales have certainly tapered off. Even so, we are still consistently getting a few sales every day. Over the course of the year this will add up to significant income.

simplify eBook sales

Besides the occasional mention of the eBook, the only ongoing promotion we have is the 7 Day Organizational Challenge. Right now that’s perfect for us. We want as many people as possible to know about this eBook, but there is a fine line between promotion and annoying everyone by telling them about the book 24/7. We certainly don’t want to get near that line!

I also want to mention that there is a real satisfaction in creating something, putting it out into the world, and having people buy. Affiliate income is nice. Ad revenue is a plus. But making and selling your own thing just feels so much better! It’s also so much more work.

If there’s that product, book, course, class, eBook, or anything else you can’t get off your mind, sit down right now and pick a launch date. It all starts with that date. Ideas are worthless without action and your first action is setting your launch date. From there it’s just a matter of working backwards and doing the work.

What We Learned

abby

I think the biggest think we learned from the launch of Simplify is that it can be done! The writing/launching process doesn’t have to be this big long thing that drags out for months and months. That being said, it wouldn’t work for every product– we definitely couldn’t have written and launched Building a Framework in 3 weeks– but what the Fizzle guys said was true. Sometimes you just have to buckle down and do it, keeping in mind that the top priority is to produce a quality product that will genuinely help your audience.

Creating products has given us “aha” moments in more ways than one. First, I have felt like it’s been a whole new way to help and connect with people. Sure, people learn and connect with blog posts, but sharing an entire eBook’s worth of information really takes it to the next level. It totally makes my day to get emails from readers telling me what they’ve learned, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to help in that way. Second, it’s been an eye opener from a business standpoint. Like Donnie mentioned above, there’s something really gratifying about generating an income from a product you’ve created yourself, and I’m sure that without these products, we wouldn’t be where we are with blogging today.

I know this post is hugely long at this point. But if you’ve been thinking about writing an eBook or creating your own product, I hope you’ve been encouraged that it is possible. You can do it. If you have knowledge that will benefit others, by all means share it! Both they and you will be so happy that you did. Happy eBook writing!

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28 Comments

  1. Never thought about putting together an eBook, but it sounds like a terrific idea and such a cool project to work on. So I’m definitely saving this for the future, thanks for sharing!

    THOUGHTS IN TIFFANY BLUE

  2. Emily, Our house now a home says:

    This post came at THE best time for me. I am in the early, early stages of creating a ebook of my own. A big reason I am even considering it is because of you. To be honest before I purchased your book I was not aware ebooks were for anything else other then fiction with questionable plots. I had no idea bloggers could create ebooks. I am intimidated beyond belief with the prospect of putting myself out there. The fear of absolutely no one buying it. Pretty much failing. But, I had those same fears with creating a blog, and one year in I could not imagine my life without it. I am making some money, freelancing at other sites and doing things I never knew I could. I am taking this experience and jumping head first into creating my own. Really nervous, but ridiculously excited. You have made me see the possibilities and the no shame in the money making game. We are all doing this to be creative, but to not hide the fact that making money while doing it is ok and a great thing. I will be bookmarking this and using it in the near future for my book launch. Be prepared to get shameless self promotion from my book. I got this (thanks to you!)

  3. Awesome post. Yes, I’ve been thinking about this for over a year and have a few ideas. I really appreciate all the details!

    {just fyi – the link to Optin Monster is going to a 404 error page}

  4. Amy @thelittlefarmdiary says:

    Abby, thank you so much for sharing all of this very valuable information! I’ve always wondered how this works and you laid it all out so clearly. Thank you!

  5. Jessica Burgess - Fantabulosity says:

    Woah… perfect time, and absolutely crazy informative! Thank you so much for walking through it and going in to so much detail! The best, hands down. Love it… XO!

  6. Abby and Donnie,
    Thank you so much for the info. I am planning on releasing my eBook within the next 2 weeks and your tips and ideas will help me so much. Thank you!

    Quick question: I am planning on making my e-Book cover myself. Do you know what size the cover should be or have any suggestions on a size?
    Again, Thanks!
    -Laura

  7. This post is AWESOME! Bookmarked it already. It’s chock-full with information I’ll definitely use when I write my own ebook. Thanks a lot for this! 😀

  8. Beth Anne says:

    Thank you for such a valuable post, Donnie & Abby! I love the way you break everything down and walk us through it step-by-step. Congratulations on the success of your newest e-book, and Abby, the samples I’ve seen look BEAUTIFUL so you were absolutely right to stick with what you knew because you were still able to create a wonderful product.

    Keep up the great work you two! So proud of you guys – I talk about you to everyone I know. I say, “You can make money blogging – my brother and sister-in-law are doing it – check them out!”

    1. That means a lot Beth Anne! Thank you.

  9. Jeff Rose says:

    Haha….seriously great timing!

    Mandy got an idea for a cool blog series and I told her that she could totally turn that into an ebook. Usually, my big ideas scare her but she was all about it this time – yeah!

    I saw this post come across on Twitter the next day and chuckled. Definitely going to use this as a blueprint.

    Thanks, you two!

    1. Great to see you on here Jeff! Hope all is well with you.

      BTW – I’m loving your new MarriageMore podcast with Mandy!

  10. I am getting ready to launch my new blog and have a dream/goal of an e-book in the future. Thanks for sharing the process with us. And thank you for all the inspiration you’ve given in the past.

  11. Frances Okoro says:

    It’s amazing how God has been encouraging me and giving me tips and resources I need to get my e-book out there.
    The idea came on last week and I’m encouraged. I can do it.
    Launch date. May 4th!
    Yep!
    I said it.
    May 4th!
    #grace!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So excited for you, Frances! You can do this!!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Thank you so much for sharing all this information! I have a blog series I am working on that I would like to make into an ebook. I will definitely be coming back to this post to see step-by-step how to do it. I also appreciate your friendliness and personableness (I don’t think that is a word). I really feel encouraged by this post!

  13. Yasmina @ Mina and Her Blog says:

    Thank you so much for for this valuable post! Im so glad you guys explained and mentioned working backwards when setting a deadline. I’ve heard this before but had no idea how / where to start. This got me thinking!

    Have a great day!

  14. JcCee @ Journey To A Healthy Me says:

    I found your blog through pinterest and I am glad that I did. Thanks so much for sharing this helpful information. I have always wondered about how an ebook is created. You have discussed the steps very detailed and simple to understand. Congrats on y’all accomplishment. I am pinning this 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, JcCee! So nice to “meet” you! 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  15. Alana Taylor says:

    Loved this article! Thanks for the great advice!!
    I’ve been procrastinating my ebook for a while now and this has given the inspiration to finish it all off!!

    THANKS

  16. Thank you so much for this post! I am wanting to write an e-book I know I have a couple in me but just didn’t know where to start. I know I will probably procrastinate over it however you have given me some valuable information. Have a great day!

  17. Hello!!

    So excited I found this post … I rally appreciate the insight, experience and lessons you have shared with us. What a helpful resource!

    I look forward to being back!!

  18. Christina says:

    Thank you for this post!! It’s helped me so much, that I’m getting ready to launch my own ebook later this month! I really appreciate you helping us newbies along!

  19. happilycrystal says:

    So informative, Abby! Thank you. You guys work great as a team.

  20. Angela @ Mary Angela's Blog says:

    Simply love this! I am in the process of creating an e-Book. And I had no idea that there was so much involved in the launch. I am really fast when it comes to content creation and thought I could launch it within a week. But this made me realize how much I will be missing out on if I choose the fast and hasty path as compared to a solid plan. Thank you so much for such an informative Blog Post. This really helped me understand everything better. 😀

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad the post was helpful, Angela! Best of luck with your book!

      ~Abby =)

  21. Jazmiera Smothers says:

    Wow guys this post was EXTREMELY informative and it has helped me with my preparing on launching my FIRST EVER EBOOK and blog on August 8th. Thanks so much for all of your tips and tricks you’re such an inspiration !

    Xoxo,
    Jazz

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful! Best of luck with your launch!

      ~Abby =)

    2. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! I’m so glad it was helpful for you. Sending hugs and cheering you on as you prepare to launch! I’m sure it will be amazing! <3

      ~Abby =)

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