Woman eating popcorn with remote - Writing and selling an ebook

Writing and selling an ebook during COVID-19 lockdown

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.

It then got to a point where I felt motivated to work on personal projects again, and 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 totaling £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.

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. This is a handful, but nowhere near the amount of the greats. I started off writing a thread on 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.

Also, posting 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.”

5 of the best programming books

Working Effectively with Legacy Code Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Michael C. Feathers

The average book on Agile software development describes a fairyland of greenfield projects, with wall-to-wall tests that run after every few edits, and clean & simple source code.

The average software project, in our industry, was written under some aspect of code-and-fix, and without automated unit tests. And we can’t just throw this code away; it represents a significant effort debugging and maintaining. It contains many latent requirements decisions. Just as Agile processes are incremental, Agile adoption must be incremental too. No more throwing away code just because it looked at us funny.

Mike begins his book with a very diplomatic definition of “Legacy”. I’l skip ahead to the undiplomatic version: Legacy code is code without unit tests.

Before cleaning that code up, and before adding new features and removing bugs, such code must be de-legacified. It needs unit tests.

To add unit tests, you must change the code. To change the code, you need unit tests to show how safe your change was.

The core of the book is a cookbook of recipes to conduct various careful attacks. Each presents a particular problem, and a relatively safe way to migrate the code towards tests.

Code undergoing this migration will begin to experience the benefits of unit tests, and these benefits will incrementally make new tests easier to write. These efforts will make aspects of a legacy codebase easy to change.

It’s an unfortunate commentary on the state of our programming industry how much we need this book.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk


Clean Code Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Robert C. Martin

An extremely pragmatic method for writing better code from the start, and ultimately producing more robust applications.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk


Refactoring – Improving the Design of Existing Code Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Martin Fowler, Kent Beck

Users can dramatically improve the design, performance, and manageability of object-oriented code without altering its interfaces or behavior. “Refactoring” shows users exactly how to spot the best opportunities for refactoring and exactly how to do it, step by step.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk


Design Patterns Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Ralph Johnson, Erich Gamma, John Vlissides, Richard Helm

Capturing a wealth of experience about the design of object-oriented software, four top-notch designers present a catalog of simple and succinct solutions to commonly occurring design problems. Previously undocumented, these 23 patterns allow designers to create more flexible, elegant, and ultimately reusable designs without having to rediscover the design solutions themselves. The authors begin by describing what patterns are and how they can help you design object-oriented software. They then go on to systematically name, explain, evaluate, and catalog recurring designs in object-oriented systems. With Design Patterns as your guide, you will learn how these important patterns fit into the software development process, and how you can leverage them to solve your own design problems most efficiently. Each pattern describes the circumstances in which it is applicable, when it can be applied in view of other design constraints, and the consequences and trade-offs of using the pattern within a larger design. All patterns are compiled from real systems and are based on real-world examples. Each pattern also includes code that demonstrates how it may be implemented in object-oriented programming languages like C++ or Smalltalk. 0201633612B07092001

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk


Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Martin Fowler

This volume is a handbook for enterprise system developers, guiding them through the intricacies and lessons learned in enterprise application development. It provides proven solutions to the everyday problems facing information systems developers.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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