Writing and selling an ebook during COVID-19 lockdown

I went from worrying about what people might think about my work, to not giving a flying f*ck what people might think.

Coming up with the idea

Two years ago, I decided I wanted to write my first ebook and sell it to the public. That ebook was all about writing your first ebook (very meta).

I started writing and got so far, then suddenly stopped. I'm not sure what happened, it could have been a decline in confidence or an overwhelming sensation of anxiety and depression, but I didn't go back to the idea until this year during the lockdown.

Fits-and-starts

During the beginning of quarantine, I didn't have any thought or motivation in writing a book. However, I did have a lot of inspiration for reading books, and this year is the most I've ever read.

I then got to a point where I felt motivated to work on personal projects again. I started getting social on my Twitter, invited all my friends to my Facebook page, and, most importantly, began where I left off with my ebook.

I went from worrying about what people might think about my work, to not giving a flying f*ck what people might think.

It wasn't exactly a straight and narrow road, some days, I would spend an hour or two writing and other days, it would be 5 or 10 minutes. I did whatever I could to muster up the motivation and courage to keep on writing. The most important thing that changed is my mindset. I went from worrying about what people might think about my work, to not giving a flying f*ck what people might think.

That change in mindset ultimately helped me get to the finish line and release my work to the public. Once it was complete, I uploaded a PDF version to PayHip and a docx version to Draft2Digital. So far, I have made four sales totalling £7.96, and my ebook is still being published to the Amazon marketplace. Once it hits the Amazon marketplace, I think I can make a couple more sales, but I won't be taking much of an income from that, so I'll try and persuade people to buy with PayHip instead.

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Marketing my ebook

What did I do to market my book? Well, I'm glad you asked because I haven't done anything special.

I went to Twitter, where I have ~3,000 followers, which are a handful, but nowhere near the amount of the great sellers. I started off writing a thread of how to make and sell an ebook and then posted that thread to Hacker News for more exposure, which I'm not sure even worked. I then waited until the evening and posted an update to that thread announcing the release of my book.

I also posted to my Facebook business and personal pages but didn't receive any sales from there. I had a few likes and comments, but nothing too exciting. The same also goes for LinkedIn; actually, many people have had quite a bit of luck with LinkedIn, but I'm yet to see any positives from there just yet.

Once I received my first sale, which I believe was sent from Twitter, I took a screenshot of the graph and posted it to Twitter underneath my sale announcement. This announcement prompted another sale from a close follower, which I was super happy about; she's always been a very supportive Twitter follower and friend.

This all gave me even more confidence to post on Indie Hackers. Now, I've never been very active over there, and that's definitely on me, but everyone there is super supportive. From now on, I will be far more active on IH and hope to build closer relationships over there. I say this because I had two more sales from posting updates to IH, and there have been so many great, supportive comments which make me want to push further.

Moral of the story

The moral of this story, you need to find your circle of online friends. Be supportive to those you are personally attracted to, and they will support you back. That support will then grow further to new people where the reach and positivity can grow. Nurture and love your followers, friends, and family, and you will reap the rewards.

Gain confidence early and gain confidence now, because the longer you wait, the worse your fears will grow. There are plenty of books to help with this, and I recommend "How to stop worrying and start living," "Feel the Fear and do it anyway," "The Chimp Paradox" and "Thinking, Fast and Slow."