Noel Rappin Writes Here

How's it Going? MSTWJS Edition

Self Publishing, mstjs, self promotionNoel RappinComment

And now for a more inside-baseball post about how the self-publishing aspects of Master Space and Time With JavaScript are going. Did you know you can buy it?

Short answer: Pretty well, though I could always have done better. Still unclear how this will work over the long haul.

At this point, the book has been on sale for 10 days, plus the pre-sale to people who were on the mailing list. It’s clear that the initial burst of traffic from incoming links is slowing down, and I’m now entering the longer struggle to get people interested — not completely sure how to do that.

Anyway, a few disconnected points about the process so far

One of the big things I miss about a larger publisher is the marketing reach. That said, there’s something really nice about how people feel a little bit of ownership concerning self-published projects that they like. I’ve gotten a couple of very nice copy-edit runs, for example.

I’ve generally been lucky in reviews (notable exception: the two-star review of RTP on Amazon that I check out whenever my Impostor’s Syndrome feels insufficiently pronounced…), and so far, the people who have commented on the books where I can see them have been positive.

I can be a little transparent with numbers. As I type this, traffic is still about double the level that I had generated in the past on days that I posted to the blog, and much, much higher than the ambient level of traffic when I hadn’t been posting.

Over the course of the ten days, about one in six people that have hit the landing page at /mstwjs and aliases convert to either the free version or one of the paid versions. Low day was 12%, high day was just under 23%. There doesn’t seem to be a consistent trend between traffic and conversion rate.

So that’s about one in six doing anything, of those that do choose, about one in six or so actually bite on one of the paid versions. So that’s a paid conversion rate in the 2 - 3% range. That rate seems to be slightly negatively correlated with traffic, which is actually in line with what I would expect.

As for the pricing strategy, which I thought was so clever… So far, there have only been a very few people buying book 2 at the $7 level — most purchases have been of the whole book at $15. I’m not planning on changing the pricing (beyond my already-stated plan to raise the $15 when Book 3 gets near-final). I want to see how this looks when there are more individual books for sale. But there’s a good chance this means that I outsmarted myself, and probably could have priced a little higher.

So far, as best as I can tell, under 3% of people who originally downloaded the free version came back to upgrade. That seems very low, but it might be higher — the way I’m counting this, if somebody gave me a bogus email for their freebie, I wouldn’t track it as an upgrade. Also, I assume this number goes up a touch as people read the book and as upgrade reminders go out. Still, as it stands, it’s not a great data point for the “give away free stuff to increase sales” school of internet marketing.

Over the course of the ten days, the number one referrer, by far, was Peter Cooper’s JavaScript Weekly email newsletter. It’s the biggest by about a factor of three over the next highest measurable referrer. Next up was Twitter, and I think the highest link out of those came from JavaScript daily, and I think the second one was from my feed. It’s really hard to track those for sure, though. Third was Google Reader, though I think that was mostly blog posts and not links to the landing page. Fourth was Reddit — my post there didn’t get much traffic, and fifth was the Ruby5 podcast and show notes. Rounding out the referrals so far is Mike Gunderloy’s Fresh Cup links, and then we also get some noise with internal referrals and things like Pocket, and the Ruby Rogues link, which just came out.

Another point of comparison is that MSTWJS sales are about 150% + of RTP sales over the first ten days. That’s less impressive than it sounds, I really struggled to get traction with RTP after the initial burst. (That’s the paid number for MSTWJS, and it includes the pre-sale to the list). RTP had a free section as well, and I don’t have any stats on how often that was downloaded, but since it was just a link and not a shopping cart, I think it was pretty high.

That’s where we are — I hope that those of you that bought or downloaded the book are enjoying it, and if you are hoping to do your own self-publishing project, I hope this information is helpful.

Oh, and the book is still on sale.