Anatomy of an eBook Launch

Have you ever wondered what the steps are to create and launch an eBook? I share what I did to write and publish my first ebook as well as the actual spreadsheet I used to track everything.

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Have you ever wondered what the steps are for an eBook launch? I definitely did. I thought I’d share an outline of the journey I took this last spring and summer in order to launch The Creative Retreat. (P.S. The Creative Retreat was originally created as an eBook but is now available in paperback as well. Just goes to show you never know where your little eBook will take you!) This is by no means the only way to launch an eBook, but maybe it will help some of you who don’t know where to start.

As you think about your own blog, what are some of the common questions you receive in the comments or through email from readers? What are your most popular posts? Is there a way you could package this information into a product that would be a resource for your readers?

The Idea for my eBook

I was literally on a creative retreat when the idea for The Creative Retreat workbook popped into my head. It felt so obvious. This was something I had done for years. It also felt very personal. Because I’ve benefited so much from taking these mini retreats, I was pretty attached to them. What if people thought it was a lame idea? I thought through the pros and cons and then decided to go for it.

First, I created a schedule starting with the date I wanted to officially launch my ebook into the world. Working backwards, I figured out how many hours I’d need to work per week to create the content.

I then wrote a list of bloggers I wanted to reach out to who were in similar niches as mine and who I thought would enjoy the concept of this workbook. To keep everything in one place, I created an Excel spreadsheet that helped me track my schedule as well as outreach.

Once you have an idea, it’s time to get started. Block out time on your calendar for writing and creating. Write out a list of bloggers to reach out to. Make a system that will work for you, whether that’s tracking everything in Trello, Evernote, Google Docs, or Excel. You’ll be glad you have a go-to place for contact information, dates, and research.

Focus – The Writing Part

Once I had my idea, I started writing the workbook pretty much every morning for the month of April. I’m so passionate about taking retreats, even if they are micro mini retreats that the words just spilled out. By the end of the month, I had my rough draft in hand.

Enter Infobomo. Though “information book month” was meant for potential authors to brainstorm, write, and publish their books in a month, I still decided to sign up for it because I needed the community. I didn’t think my book was ready for publishing quite yet but I wasn’t sure. I’m so glad I signed up.

Through Infobomo, I was introduced to some amazing people as well as the concept of hiring an editor. Originally, I wasn’t sure about hiring an editor for my workbook. This was a workbook, not a treatise about a deep topic. I went back and forth and finally decided to swallow my pride and ask for recommendations for an editor. And I’m so glad I did.

The particular editor I hired also noted design inconsistencies since I gave her my InDesign file. When I first sat down and read through her comments, I found myself blushing. Good grief, I hadn’t even noticed how many times I used my ‘pet’ phrases.

Don’t underestimate the power of community. Is there a writer’s group you could join?  Also, consider hiring an editor if you can. They are invaluable and will only make your work stronger.

Reaching Out

We went on vacation at the end of May and when we returned, I took a mini retreat at the library. I needed some time to review the schedule and think through how I was going to ask bloggers to help me. While I was looking over the schedule, I realized that having a September launch date meant I really couldn’t start blogger outreach until later in the summer. Although it’s a nice thing to give people a heads up about your project, sending them a note three months in advance means it will likely get forgotten. With that realization, I made the decision to slash four weeks off the schedule. Gulp.

I’ll be really honest here and say I didn’t have the first clue as to what to say to or ask my blogger friends (and heroes) when I wrote them. I reached out for help in my newsletter and several sweet bloggers responded. Then I researched what I should say to the rest of the bloggers on my list and started to craft an email. I originally was going to do a template email but found I wanted to say something specific to each blogger, so the only thing that was the same was the description of my Creative Retreat workbook (sometimes even that was tweaked per their audience.)

Looking back, I wish I had been a little more, “Here’s my product—I’d love to hear what you think” with some of the bloggers. I kind of cringe in that I actually asked some of them to write reviews on their sites. That was a bit tacky. It was scary to ask for testimonials and send those emails but I’m glad I did. Many of my favorite bloggers responded with such kind comments I did a record number of happy dances in the month of June. :)

If you’re going to reach out to bloggers for your launch, make sure that you are already following them and actually care about them and their audience. If they know who you are because this isn’t the first time you’ve reached out to them, that’s even better. Make sure your product is actually relevant to their audience. And if they don’t respond, don’t take it personal. 

Finishing Up

When I first started thinking about writing an eBook (or workbook, in my case), I thought the hard part was going to be writing the actual book, but in truth, the last month of getting everything set up for the launch was much more work than writing the book. During the month of July, my husband and I finished up the design of the workbook, shot pictures of it and edited them, created the landing page, and sent images that our blogger friends could use on their sites. Oh, and we made an infographic too, because why not?

We originally decided to use Gumroad to fulfill the orders rather than selling the workbook directly from our site. Gumroad charges .25 + .05% per sale for using their site but it’s worth it in my opinion. It’s easy to set up a product page, and I was glad to see that I could have a pre-sale for the launch. That meant I could have a lower price before the launch of the workbook. I also appreciated that on launch day all of the orders would automatically be fulfilled. (I have since moved to Shopify for my digital products and sell my paperback books on Amazon.)

I decided to write several posts that would point to The Creative Retreat which I highly recommend doing for your own product. These posts allow readers to pre-order and in the future, point them to your products. You don’t have to be salesy in those posts, just write about different aspects of your product or mention it organically.

One thing to note here is your newsletter list. I can’t emphasize the need to have a strong newsletter list when you’re selling a product. Not so you can bombard them with sales messages but because most likely they like your style so that’s why they signed up to get news about what you’re up to in their inbox. These are your people and I’m telling you every single time I mentioned The Creative Retreat in my newsletter, even in passing, I had a surge of pre-orders (or sales after the launch.) Every single time.

Keep focused that last month before the launch. Treat yourself with grace and know that you’ll make mistakes and that’s okay. Give your newsletter subscribers an added bonus or incentive to order early. They’re your tribe so treat them well!

Reaching out to other bloggers gave me so much encouragement for the eBook launch. Networking and building relationships as you create your product is so important.
Reaching out to other bloggers gave me so much encouragement for the launch. They were amazing. (photo of interior page from The Creative Retreat workbook)

The Big Launch of the eBook

Now here’s where it gets surreal. The last couple of days before the launch were BUSY. I was following up with bloggers and making sure links worked. The night before the launch, I stayed up with my husband until midnight to see if Gumroad really would fulfill all of those orders (It did. Phew!) I also had to change the information at the bottom of the pre-order blog posts to reflect the new price and to say, “Buy Now” instead of “Pre-order”. I was so glad we had made a shortcode to place at the bottom of all of those posts. All I had to do was go into my shortcodes and replace the old one with the new and everything was automatically updated. So nice!

On launch day, I had high hopes of doing a Periscope broadcast to say thank you to everyone. But of course, that was the day my kiddo didn’t want to take a nap.  Lauren Lanker from The Thinking Closet ended up doing a broadcast that was so encouraging (and sweet with all the shout-outs!) I couldn’t have done a better job. (Thank you so much, Lauren!)

I have to admit it was pretty surreal to work so hard for something, make it to launch day, and then still have to do the dishes. :) I guess that’s real life for you, right? We did have a little celebration at dinner time which was fun; all of those months of work had really paid off! By the end of the month, we made our sales goals and had a conversion rate between 20-35% which was incredible. I’m so grateful for the bloggers who believed in this project and who were so kind to feature it on their blogs.

Make a list of the things you need to finalize prior to launch day and then enjoy your hard work! It’s time to celebrate! :)

Well, that’s an overview of how I put together the book launch for The Creative Retreat workbook. I’m so glad I took this leap and will definitely do it again. The next workbook is being designed as I write this, so stay tuned! (Here it is–>The {10 Minute} Letter Writing Retreat Bundle)

Have you ever written an eBook? What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give a new writer?

17 thoughts on “Anatomy of an eBook Launch

  1. This is wonderful! I have wanted to write an ebook for SO long but I always thought it was a pipe dream. Seeing all this success makes me super excited to get started : )

    1. Whoohoo! I’m so excited for you, Amanda—I don’t know how you do it! I hope you have a great launch! :)

  2. Hi I found you via Pinterest tonight and I ever glad! I think we could be good friends IRL! I’ve been reading your blog tonight, bought your ebook and now after reading this feel inspired to fulfill my dream of writing an ebook. Great article, I’ve subscribed now so I won’t miss anything from your awesome blog!

    1. Oh my goodness, Wanda. Thank you SO much for your kind comment. :) You literally just made my day. :) :) And that is awesome about you writing an eBook. You CAN do it!

  3. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog from Grandma’s Ideas link party. I started with your beautiful leaf painting and have been looking around. Your blog is so uplifting and beautiful. And now I want to take a mini-retreat. Also, I’ve been thinking about an ebook/course/etc and this is great information. I don’t know exactly what I have to offer yet, but I am working on figuring that out.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Kati. I really appreciate it! You totally should take a mini retreat–they’re soo nice. :) I can’t wait to hear what kind of product you’re going to create this year! There are so many options, right? p.s. I love how in your “About Me” section, you talk about having “I can make that!” disease–that is so me. :) Have a great day!

  4. This was incredibly helpful! I have been thinking about writing an e-book, and I love the detailed overview that you give. I’m also taking EBA right now and am excited to get to Ruth’s chapter on products. Thanks!

    1. You’re gonna love it, Sarah. It’s amazing how setting aside a bit of time each day (or every few days) to write will eventually become an eBook/eCourse/etc.–pretty awesome! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  5. Such great tips!! I remember how scary it was before doing it the first time. Now, it’s no problem at all!! This information is perfect for those just getting started! Thank you for sharing with us at the #HomeMattersParty

    1. Thanks so much, Jamie! Isn’t it funny how things become routine once you’ve done them for a while, but goodness, that first time can be really difficult. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week! :)

  6. Aw, it was my JOY to get to sing your praises on Periscope and beyond! You created such a valuable resource for us…all of my cheers and support were coming from the heart. Loved reading more about your process behind the scenes in this post and hearing your takeaways from the experience. You are a wise, wise woman. And I admire you for sharing those lessons learned so generously and humbly with all of us. Excited to see what your next launch is, Jennie! I know it will be another homerun.

    1. Lauren, you’re the best. Thanks so much for your kind comment. I think Florida should move closer to Oregon because it’d be so fun to have a crafternoon with you. :) Have a great day!

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