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Hello all,

I'm looking into some options for making money from my homestead and one part of that is launching a series of ebooks. I'm thinking about doing relatively small ebooks that focus on a fairly small number of topics that would ideally all be related. So one ebook might cover basic planning steps for a new homestead, another might cover hugelkultur beds or drought resistant gardening for example. While these could be a very large topics I'm hoping to keep these books somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words - so a small ebook but very focused with real world examples and specific instructions so someone could read the book and hit the ground running with their own projects - these would be focused and practical how to books.

My question for you all is for this sort of book what would you be willing to pay for it? Amazon ebook publishing service gives the author a decent royalty if the ebook is priced between $2.99 and I think $9.99. At this level the author gets 70% of the sell and Amazon 30% - much higher royalty than going through a traditional publisher. If you go outside of that price range then the author only gets around 35% of the sell. So I'm wanting to price the books somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99. So what price would you be willing to pay for this type of ebook?

My goal is to be able to produce a minimum of 2 of these books and potentially up to 3 or 4 per year. So overtime the number of books that I would have published would increase and it would hopefully be a decent residual income source.

The books would be aimed at people who are new to the topic that is being covered - so when thinking about the price you would be willing pay think about a topic you have no real experience in but that you would like to start learning. I'm thinking about starting with some of the questions we see posted here on permies on a regular basis from people just starting out in the world of homesteading, gardening, and permaculture. As I learn more and do more on my own homestead I will then write books to cover these topics too. My goal is to always have at least one example of a project from my own homestead in each book.

Also, in regards to price would you be willing to pay more for a paperback version? It would be a fairly small book but Amazon does have a system setup for print on demand so I could potentially sell the book as both a regular paperback book and ebook. The paperback book would be more expensive than the ebook to cover printing fees and Amazon's rules. Would you prefer a paperback book over an ebook?

Feedback beyond the price would also be appreciated - the ebooks are one part of a larger financial strategy that I'm working on for my homestead. I plan to have a lot of "products" offered for free but I also want to build a range of information products that I will be selling through sites like Amazon and my own site.

Thank you all!
 
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In general, I think people are willing to pay for information they want, even if it's a short book, but you might not have a huge audience with a specialized subject.

But if you want to price lower, you can sign up to sell your books through Pronoun.  They're a self-publishing division started by Macmillian, and right now they're not taking any cut, you can get your book into a bunch of different vendors, and you'll earn 70% of the sale price from Amazon even below the 2.99 pricing point.  

Right now, it's a good deal!  The terms may change in the future, but it's definitely something to jump on if you want to price below 2.99 and still get the 70% at Amazon.
 
pollinator
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Yes, since the internet is overflowing with free stuff, I think it's important to choose a low price, with a high percentage on your end. I know that I would never even examine the idea of paying $10. I might pay $3 if something was really compelling.
 
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Yes, since the internet is overflowing with free stuff, I think it's important to choose a low price, with a high percentage on your end. I know that I would never even examine the idea of paying $10. I might pay $3 if something was really compelling.



Same here.  I'm willing to pay $2.99 if I learn even one thing from a book.  If I pay $10 and it's a mosh of things I could have gotten from the internet for free, I feel cheated.  Personally, I like step-by-steps of thing you have built yourself.  The post I put up about starting cuttings for newbies is an example of the way I like to see thing presented:  simple and straight forward.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yes that is quite well laid out. I watch things on YouTube. I wish those presenters would plan things and do a little more step by step.

That seems like a very ambitious target, concerning the number of books. If I were to buy a book, I would want the writer to be an expert on the subject, not one of the many thousands who has tried this or that. That would be as dull as reading about another cob house, that was done in very much the same way as the hundred other books about Cob Houses. For me to care one little bit, they would need to have found a more efficient means of mixing the material or come up with some other innovation. Pictures of smiling kids and dogs, would not do it for me. That stuff is free everywhere.

Do you intend to take the time to become an expert on things that you write about? Will you do many experiments, to be sure that methods you recommend are superior to other methods?

I have seen many books for sale, that look like they would have made a nice blog, but as a book, they don't stand above the crowd. One good book, can be worth many mediocre books. It can also pay more. Remember Harper Lee. I can only name one book, although she may have had more.
 
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When deciding if I want to buy a book, I look at the number of pages/size of the book.  I download a sample from amazon.  If the sample includes a table of contents and actual chapter with actual content, and it is on topic, I'll spend money on it.  

So many booklets have too small a sample.  I download the sample, it's just 2 pages of the author justifying why they think they are qualified to write this book.  No table of contents.  No actual content so I can judge if I can actually learn something from the author.  I don't care why an author thinks they are qualified to write a book.  Prove it by writing actual good content.  I would be content if the author has no qualifications at all, so long as the content is relevant, accurate, and useful.  I won't spend money if the sample is crap.  

If the book is well presented, then I'll spend more on it.  For a booklet about the size you say, $4 is about my maximum unless there aren't any other books on that specific subject and the sample is amazing. Then I might go up to $12.  (these are Canadian dollars, so knock off about 30% if you're pricing in the US).

For a small, nonfiction paperback, I expect to pay $9.99 to $14.99.  
 
Daron Williams
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Thanks all for the feedback - I'm leaning towards the $2.99 price point for the majority and potentially $3.99 if a topic warrants a more in-depth  (and longer) book.

In regards to becoming an expert in the subject I would say it depends on the relative difference in experience between myself and the person buying the book. I'm wanting to help those who are really just starting out on the topic. The level of detail I would need to cover is much less than if I was writing a book for someone who already has years of experience in the topic. I won't be writing about any subject that I don't have real world experience in. I run a large restoration program that is State funded (about $500,000 worth of projects over the past year), I have a master's in environmental studies, a degree in water resources and a large amount of field experience with the USGS and Idaho State. Plus i have gardened all my life and worked on community farms both here and in England. So I do have some experience to build from but I want to be careful not to go past the level of experience that I do have.

It is also true that most of the information at this level us likely to be available for free on the internet. I plan to make blog posts too that will be free and keep making posts on permies which of course are free. But a lot of people don't know where to start when it comes to researching a topic. Say they want to do drought resistant gardening but have no experience with this. If they just start googling they will get a ton of information some good some bad but how will they know what to focus on? I could write a book that covered building wicking beds, wood chip mulching, and hugel beds from the prospective of drought resistant gardening. That would be three ready to go projects with real examples from my own homestead to go with the instructions. From there the person would at least have a place to start from to learn more. Some people I think would prefer to just have a cheap easy to read but useful book while others will take the time to research it themselves. The first type is who I'm planning on aiming for.

Thanks again all and any more feedback would be greatly appreciated!
 
r ranson
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It is also true that most of the information at this level us likely to be available for free on the internet.



The most disappointing ebooklet I ever bought was on falconry.  I looked up every web page I could, then still felt like I needed to learn more so I bought an ebooklet.  $8 several years ago, when the prices were much lower and a mass market book was about $6.  Its contents were a very poor copy-paste job of other web pages.  No organisation.  Spelling so bad even I had trouble with it.  This is one of the reasons why I always read the sample first.  If you can give a good table of contents, and some actual content in the sample, then I will spend money on it for the advantage of being able to easily read and reference something on my kindle instead of trying to read on the glowing screen that needs the internet to be on for me to find the website.  

I don't know if that makes sense.  Basically, if the information is well organised and well presented, clear to understand and written in the author's voice, then I would rather read an e book than the internet any day.  

For an introduction booklet, the author doesn't need to be an excessive expert, it just needs to be well researched with a few personal thoughts and stories tossed in.  A bibliography at the end of the book will make me more likely to buy from that author again.  something like the prep school books are an example of where I've bought several from the same author because the style is good and I enjoy how he references outside his own expierence.  
 
Todd Parr
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Daron Williams wrote:
It is also true that most of the information at this level us likely to be available for free on the internet.  



I hope my post didn't come across as sounding like this is a deal-breaker for me.  Pretty much everything is available on the net somewhere.  As long as you are willing to weed thru the riff-raff and present the information I need to me in good, readable form, I don't mind paying for things I could have found on my own.  My time is valuable to me.  I'm willing to pay someone for theirs, if the information is useful and correct.  That is another reason I like to read books by people that are showing something they have done themselves.
 
r ranson
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How does one get from a bunch of words and pictures and transform that into an ebook that one could sell on amazon or even through the digital market here on permies?
 
Daron Williams
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r ranson wrote:How does one get from a bunch of words and pictures and transform that into an ebook that one could sell on amazon or even through the digital market here on permies?



Amazon has some formatting guidelines that I can follow and a service to make it fairly easy. The big advantage of using Amazon is their massive reach. If a book sells okay in a specific category (can be a sub sub category) then Amazon will start promoting it for you for free which can greatly increase sells. I found some sub sub categories that have less than 100 top books so not hard to jump up the list. The great thing is that the book still shows up in the parent categories so even though it would be in a small category it would be promoted within the bigger categories.

A book can also be sold on multiple platforms reaching even more people. It depends on how it is setup with Amazon but I might be able to have my books sold here and on Amazon.

I'm also looking into the Pronoun site that was mentioned earlier. One thing I like is the ability to have them not sell on Amazon and leave that aide to me. This way Pronoun would manage the other less popular sites but get the book out to more people and I could manage Amazon and a listing here on permies.

Still figuring this all out but there are some nice tools out there these days to make it a lot easier.
 
pollinator
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I agree with Dale. You should grab one topic which you are interested in not general gardening or permaculture. One very nice targeted topic you must have a lot of practical experience in it and as well a lot of theretical knowledge. You get a lot of information free in the net, but often there is little practical knowledge behind these articles, often written by people who tried things out once or twice. In my opinion get mastery in something, start to write a free blog meanwhile and then (only then) write your books, which could be printed books.
 
r ranson
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This thread has me thinking.  My attempt to write a book stalled a few weeks back.  I like outside feedback and not having deadlines to meet is making my writing go slowly.  

But each chapter can easily be made to stand alone if I made a glossary and expanded the introduction.  They are big enough to be a booklet on their own.  

What if I wrote and polished a chapter into a booklet and published that on amazon or somewhere?  Then later on, would I still own the content?  Would I be able to gather them together, add all the stuff that didn't fit nicely into the booklets and make a big fat reference book?  Is this a plausible scenario?  
 
r ranson
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How are things going now?  Any updates?
 
Daron Williams
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lol, I forgot all about this thread. I have been doing what I tend to always do with a new project. Research it to death! Been listening to a bunch of podcasts and slowly planning out the book - though a lot of that has been all the administrative stuff around publishing a book.

Originally, I was going to try to publish a book this coming spring... that got delayed now until next fall. Time to focus on my new site and I have a new little one on the way in May - not the best time to publish a book!

Honestly, I'm most torn on what to write about... I'm planning on asking you all (permies community) and people who are engaging with my site what would be a good topic to write on. This book will be the first in a series of homesteading/permaculture related books - each one not that long but focused on a specific niche/topic within the broader topic of homesteading and permaculture. I'm thinking about picking say 3 to 5 topics I would be interested in writing about and then see which one people on here and on my site like the best and write that one first. Been leaning towards something related to low water gardening or some other growies related topic.

I like the idea of writing a whole series of small focused books and then one day writing a bigger more general book that covers a range of topics.
 
r ranson
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Something I saw today suggested that a successful ebook answers one specific question or provides one specific solution.

It suggested we take a survey of your followers and ask them what questions would they like to have answered.  Take about five of those that relate to each other and build one chapter to answer each question.  

I don't know if this works as it's very different than how I go about doing things.  But I'm writing for long term income and a retirement plan, not the quick income that is popular with ebooks these days.  I understand that the more I produce (magazines, print books, articles, ebooks), the more people will find my stuff long term.  It's a thirty-year view instead of a thirty-month one.  But that's me.  I'm slow.  I'm slow at reading and slow at writing.  I can't produce material as quickly as others, but what I do produce is interesting to me - which is important if I'm going to see the project through to the end as my attention span wavers if the topic isn't interesting to me.  I write what I want to read.  When I find a gap in the literature, that's what I write about.

That's probably not a style that would work for most people - or possibly not anyone else but me.  

But I do really like the idea of having a narrow focus to the e-book.  Someone has a specific question or problem, and the book provides solutions.  
 
Daron Williams
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That makes some sense to me - the answer one specific question or provides one specific solution - idea. Though I'm not sure about the details for getting there - seems to me there are multiple ways to write a book that answers one specific question...

I'm with you on the writing for the long term and not the short term. I will admit I want to get a bit of an initial burst when the book is first published but then I want it to just have a steady amount of sales for decades to come if possible. This is one reason why I'm planning multiple books - don't expect any one of them to make a ton of money but added together they should eventually bring in a nice steady income. I'm aiming for one or potentially two books a year. Since these would be smaller books I think it would be possible.

There is a whole movement among authors that focuses on long term income generation instead of just short bursts. Some of these authors still make decent yearly income but they don't worry about huge book launches.

Though at this point this is all theory for me - how is everything going with your book?
 
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Daron, thanks for all the useful information I've discovered from you so far.  I stumbled into the "Cascadia" forum a couple of days ago then into this one about your (and perhaps other people) writing one or more books.  I would definitely buy a good book on "Permaculture in the Pacific Northwest," or west of the Cascades, or SW Washington.  Print books work better in general for me, and I'd pay $15-30 or maybe more if very useful.  My husband and I moved from NE Arizona (high, dry, hot, cold, and windy on the Colorado Plateau at 5,000 feet) to near Longview WA in Sept. of 2017.  We had both taken PDC courses online while in Arizona, and focused our learning on that environment.  There was helpful information from here, there and everywhere but it was hard to find details on just where we lived an our circumstances.  Now I feel in a similar position.  In the Walapa hills west of Longview we live in a very different environment, which is far more ideal for growing than the high desert, yet finding the specifics on "what works here" is elusive. And in our 60s, we lack the energy of youth to invest massive effort and time into endless experiments ourselves.  I've searched and searched for a BOOK specific to this part of the world.  "Gaia's Garden" perhaps comes the closest, but is written for a widespread audience and doesn't answer certain questions specific to HERE. Steve Solomon's "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" is great but lacks specific consideration of permaculture concepts (except its central focus on organic gardening).  And it cites important reasons NOT to mulch (mainly massive slug and earwig populations--which we have now experienced in our first year of gardening after I'd covered the garden a year ago with cardboard and wood chips). He also describes the region's phenomenon of Symphylans which wipe out tender roots of annual crops planted in the same garden area for 3 years or so.  Anyway--in brief, I'd love to find a book on what DOES work, for growing food and for living in, growing in, and fostering nature.  Perhaps you could not only do your own writing but get permission to include the expertise and real-life examples of others who have contributed to Permies.com, to compile a very useful region-specific book for those of us learning how to start and get going in the pacific northwest. Thank you.  
 
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