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My 2022 Self Published Tech Book Earnings

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Hello! I self published an ebook in early january of 2022. This post documents my 2022 earnings from the book. The book's title is "Site Reliability Engineering Tidbits" it is available on Leanpub and Amazon.

The total earnings:

SourceTotal
Amazon$509.85
Leanpub$70.20
Total$580.05
Book Cover Design$100
Time Invested~100 Hours
Total Adjusted Hourly$4.80 / Hour

This is based on Amazon KDP Royalties:

And Leanpub Royalties:

Process

In December of 2021 I began compiling 4 years worth of SRE blogs into a book. I used leanpub to structure and publish the book. Leanpub basically functioned as a book build pipeline. Leanpub offers a leanpub flavored markdown and can autogenerate the book on github commits.

I began writing ~5 years ago for personal growth. During this time I published many articles and posts on Site Reliability Engineering. I saw the success of blog-based books, like Will Larson's An Elegant Puzzle and was interested in seeing if I could generate any money from my own attempt.

I spent ~100 hours editing the articles and compiling them into the book. The vast majority of this time ~90+ hours was spent on editing. Many articles were very poorly written (since I was learning how to write when I wrote them!) and needed heavy editing.

I would go article by article chapter by chapter. After each chapter I would build a copy of the book using leanpub and verify that the layout looked ok. After a month of working evenings and weekends I was finally ready to Publish!

Publishing

I initially intended to publish through leanpub, but leanpub only pays out using PayPal. I have had major issues with PayPal in the past (arbitrarily locking my account) so I decided to only publish using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). KDP is Amazon's self publish platform. They allow you to upload your own ebook for sale in the Kindle store and physical copies. The physical copy pricing is pretty high, but the book quality was excellent:

In November of 2022, I decided to risk publishing on Leanpub, which requires me to use PayPal (so far no issues).

Marketing

I had very few marketing efforts. Most of the marketing involved a couple of small social media posts:

I posted a notice of publish in the LinkedIn DevOps channel, which generated 23,000 Impressions! Which is by far the largest views I've ever had on a post!

Unfortunately I'm not able to attribute sales to this post, but from the numbers it wasn't much.

Another key marketing effort was joining KDP Select.

Amazon KDP Select is an amazon program which allows your book to be featured on the kindle store. KDP Select requires a 90 day commitment. During this time Amazon prohibits you from publishing your ebook on any other platform. I initially enrolled from March through May, but Amazon defaults to "auto-enroll" so I accidentally re-enrolled through the end of August.

One of the major benefits of KDP Select are "free-promotions". Amazon allows you to schedule 5 days of free downloads during each 90 day KDP Select enrollment. KDP Select allowed for 379 Free book downloads!!

I would have liked if those 379 free book downloads were sales (379 * 5) which would have put ~$1800 more dollars in my pocket, but getting the book into the hands of people is the next best thing.

Overall Thoughts

Overall this was an amazing experience. I'm passively building up another body of blogs, and hope to try this again in another couple years. This book was also the first time I generated non-work income, and the feeling of earning the first sale was absolutely amazing. I was so nervous about putting myself out there, and soliciting feedback on the book.

My biggest gripe is around Leanpub payments. I really wish that they would offer another payment provider as I've had horrible experiences with PayPal in the past.