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The Leanpub Author Update

The Leanpub Author Update for January 2020

This is our monthly author newsletter, which features news for Leanpub authors. You can subscribe or unsubscribe here or you can click the "unsubscribe from this list" link at the bottom of this email.

News

It’s almost February, so that means it’s time for the January author update!

We’re working on a number of things, but in terms of what we’ve actually shipped in January, it has either been focused on improving the newsletters or on simplifying Leanpub:

  1. We added bundles and courses to the weekly and monthly sale newsletters. Make sure you opt in to Leanpub discounts for them!
  2. New unpublished books now get added to the profile pages on first publish. If you published a book since June 5, 2019, we have made it visible on your author profile page, since your expectation should have been that it would be there already. To show or hide any book, go to your book dashboard.
  3. We have discontinued the Shelf Performance Plan. You can still buy spots on The Shelf here.
  4. We have discontinued the Conference Purchase Program. You can still sell to conference organizers directly, of course. See below for our recommendations!
  5. We have added Featured and Sponsored discounts to the newsletters. This newsletter shows an example.

Furthermore, you made it possible for us do all this without chopping down a single tree or selling any single-use plastics. That’s possibly a bigger deal than using a paper or reusable straw (or no straw at all, since paper straws taste terrible), so thanks! :)

Bundles and Courses in Newsletters

We’re really excited that bundles and courses are in our newsletters now!

Our weekly and monthly sale newsletters have already both earned Leanpub authors tens of thousands of dollars in royalties on their book sales. (We’re late to the party on emphasizing newsletters, so I can’t say hundreds of thousands of dollars yet!)

But until this month, they could only include deals on books, not on bundles or courses.

Now this is changed!

So, if you haven’t opted in to Leanpub discounts for your books, bundles or courses, please do so. You can find the options for your books, courses and bundles here:

  • the book pricing page (Author > Books > Your Book > Store > Pricing)
  • the course pricing page (Author > Courses > Your Course > Store > Pricing)
  • the bundle edit page (Author > Bundles > Your Bundle > Edit)

Author Profile Pages and Book Visibility

In terms of your author profile pages, in June 2019 we made a change where new unpublished books were not automatically added to author profile pages. This was a good idea, since typically if you are just starting a book, you don’t want to promote it yet. And we don’t want a bunch of unpublished books cluttering up the profile page of an author with one or more published books or courses. (Yes, it can be useful to promote unpublished books to test the market, once you've created a good landing page, book cover, etc. However, that doesn't happen automatically, so we should not have been adding unpublished books to the profile pages automatically.)

This was a good change, in theory.

However, we made two mistakes:

  1. We didn’t announce this change properly.
  2. We didn’t make books get automatically added to the profile pages on first publish.

The first mistake was small; the second mistake was huge!

We have fixed both mistakes now. But what to do about all the books which had been published since June 5, 2019 that were not visible on profile pages?

Well, we had two choices:

  1. Leave them hidden from the author profile pages.
  2. Show them on the author profile pages, email the authors directly, and announce the change here.

We’re going with option #2. Today I just emailed every author who was affected by this.

Leanpub is almost 10 years old (!), and for almost our entire lifetime, if you created and then published a book, it would have been visible on your author profile page. So, the expectation for an author should have been that published books would have been visible on their profile pages. For this not to be the case is, in almost all cases, an error.

So, rather than ask everyone to go update their profile pages via our Book Dashboard page, we are doing the following:

If you have published a book since June 5, 2019 which was currently not visible on your author profile page, we have made it visible on your author profile page, and emailed you directly. We are also announcing the change here.

To show or hide any of your published or unpublished books, go to Author > Books > Dashboard, and mouse over the little eyeball on the relevant book cover(s), and choose to Show or Hide the books appropriately.

To show or hide any of your published or unpublished courses, go to Author > Courses > Dashboard.

Regardless of whether you’ve published anything since June of last year, we recommend that every Leanpub author take a few minutes to ensure that what is visible on your author profile page is what you think it is, by looking at the dashboard pages for your books and your courses.

(For me, for example, I kept getting unpublished books added to my profile pages, which I would then have to keep removing!)

We’re sorry about the mistake here, and we will work to do better in the future.

Discontinuing the Shelf Performance Plan

Last year we tried an experiment with a Shelf Performance Plan. I would explain how it worked, but that would be boring and annoying for you to read, and boring and annoying for me to write, since it was far too complicated. This was entirely my fault!

One theme of the past few months is that if we’re not happy with something, we either remove it or fix it.

So, although the Shelf Performance Plan came from good intentions, it was too complex, so we’re getting rid of it. Instead, we’re planning to replace it with something else, which we’ll announce and explain sometime in the next few months.

Discontinuing the Conference Purchase Program

Speaking of ending experiments, we’re also ending the Conference Purchase Program.

Again, this was something which we launched with good intentions. We even made a few authors a small amount of royalties.

However, we got the feature wrong.

We had been overly optimistic: we thought it would be great if we could build a self-serve way for conference organizers to buy books at a discount to give away to their attendees at conferences.

This is totally great, except for one small thing:

Conference organizers don’t want a self-serve process.

Instead, they want email communication, proper invoices, and some of them even want to send us wire transfers.

Now, there are a few problems with all that:

  1. We weren’t actually adding much value.
  2. What we earned wasn’t worth the time and effort for us.
  3. The payment and royalty remitting and accounting was manual and out-of-band.

By #1, I mean that when a conference organizer contacted us, authors would possibly have been better off if we had just made an email introduction between them and the conference organizers.

The authors could then negotiate a fair price with the conference organizers by email (which would have been similar to what we had done for some books, and possibly much higher for others!), send an invoice themselves if necessary (which it always is), and get paid directly by PayPal or wire transfer.

The conference organizer would pay the author directly, and the author would make a free coupon code for, say, 500 copies. Leanpub wouldn’t earn anything directly from these sales, and we are totally fine with that. (We like free sales, since we get a bunch of new readers, who hopefully buy one or more other Leanpub books and join one or more of our newsletters!)

In fact, not only are we fine with this process, we wrote a couple of articles in our Help Center explaining exactly how we think the process should work:

These are just recommendations, of course: we’re not running this program anymore, and authors are free to do whatever they wish!

By #2, I mean that since we pay 80% royalties, after the PayPal fees and any currency conversions or wire transfer fees, the amount of money we earned from the conference purchases just were not worth it when we were selling between $500 and $2000 of books at a time. We could consider offering authors a lower royalty percentage on conference purchases, but that would add complexity and hurt our messaging, so we really don’t want to do that.

By #3, I mean that since this was an experiment, we didn’t build a bunch of back-end code to report or pay those royalties nicely. Instead we would pay the author manually, and track everything manually in Excel. Again, this made it more work to do for each conference purchase. However, since we are ending the experiment and killing the feature, I’m glad we didn’t write any more code than we did!

Anyway, in a parallel universe where we just define elaborate self-serve workflows, write a bit of code and even less documentation, and everyone magically does what we want, this could have been a great feature.

But in this universe, it was a stupid feature, so it’s now gone. Lesson learned.

Finally, we have added Featured and Sponsored spots to the newsletters.

Now, you wouldn’t know this, since we haven’t actually featured any books, bundles or courses yet in any of our newsletters. Nor have we had any books, bundles or courses sponsor a newsletter yet.

Both of these things will change reasonably soon. So, I’ve arbitrarily chosen some featured and sponsored books, bundles and courses to show in this newsletter as an example, so that we can reference this newsletter when explaining what they look like.

The featured spots will be editorial, just like the featured book on the homepage. The sponsored discounts will be purchased either for a flat fee from the Shelf Spot purchase page (or something like it), or via another mechanism I’ll discuss in the next few months.

Well, that was a lot of words, even for me (Peter). Sorry about that! We hope you had a great January, and that you have an even better February!

The Sale, Including Examples of Featured and Sponsored Spots

This sale shows an example of what featured and sponsored spots look like for books, bundles and courses. Despite the boilerplate text in the Sponsored Deals section, none of these authors actually paid to sponsor this newsletter. This just shows what it would look like if they had done so.

Besides being a good example, they’re also great things to actually buy, of course :)




Sponsored Deals

Not only are these great deals, their authors also sponsored this newsletter!

(Again, they didn't actually pay to sponsor this newsletter. This is just an example, and I'm leaving the text in the above paragraph since that's what it will look like.)

Ansible for Kubernetes by Jeff Geerling - Suggested Price: $19.99, Regular Minimum Price: $14.99, Coupon Price: $11.99 Coupon Link

Composing Software by Eric Elliott - Suggested Price: $34.00, Regular Minimum Price: $34.00, Coupon Price: $25.50 Coupon Link

Double Your Coding Speed with Visual Studio and ReSharper [Course] by EngineerSpock - Suggested Price: $12.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $5.00 Coupon Link

Modern Management Made Easy [Bundle] by Johanna Rothman - Suggested Price: $29.97, Regular Bundle Price: $24.99, Coupon Price: $19.99 Coupon Link

The DevOps Toolkit Series (volumes 4, 6, and 7): Kubernetes [Bundle] by Viktor Farcic - Suggested Price: $114.00, Regular Bundle Price: $70.00, Coupon Price: $56.00 Coupon Link




The Sale

We now have sales on books, bundles and courses, as well as featured deals!

Featured Deals

These are the deals we're featuring this week...

Advent of Go Microservices by Tit Petric - Suggested Price: $40.00, Regular Minimum Price: $20.00, Coupon Price: $14.00 Coupon Link

Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way by Clemens Lode - Suggested Price: $12.95, Regular Minimum Price: $9.95, Coupon Price: $7.46 Coupon Link

Composing Software by Eric Elliott - Suggested Price: $34.00, Regular Minimum Price: $34.00, Coupon Price: $25.50 Coupon Link

Complete Practical LINQ Tutorial in C# [Course] by EngineerSpock - Suggested Price: $12.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $5.00 Coupon Link

ASP.NET Core and Docker for Microservices [Bundle] by Arnaud Weil - Suggested Price: $32.97, Regular Bundle Price: $18.60, Coupon Price: $14.14 Coupon Link

The DevOps Toolkit Series (volumes 4, 6, and 7): Kubernetes [Bundle] by Viktor Farcic - Suggested Price: $114.00, Regular Bundle Price: $70.00, Coupon Price: $56.00 Coupon Link

Books

12 Factor Applications with Docker and Go (Engineer) by Tit Petric - Suggested Price: $49.00, Regular Minimum Price: $29.00, Coupon Price: $23.20 Coupon Link

70 Top Leaders on Full Attention and Best Performance by Bill Fox - Suggested Price: $17.99, Regular Minimum Price: $12.99, Coupon Price: $10.39 Coupon Link

70 Top Leaders on What People Lack and Long for at Work by Bill Fox - Suggested Price: $17.99, Regular Minimum Price: $12.99, Coupon Price: $10.39 Coupon Link

Advent of Go Microservices by Tit Petric - Suggested Price: $40.00, Regular Minimum Price: $20.00, Coupon Price: $14.00 Coupon Link

Angular Router by Victor Savkin - Suggested Price: $25.00, Regular Minimum Price: $20.00, Coupon Price: $14.00 Coupon Link

Ansible for Kubernetes by Jeff Geerling - Suggested Price: $19.99, Regular Minimum Price: $14.99, Coupon Price: $11.99 Coupon Link

API on Rails 6 by Alexandre Rousseau - Suggested Price: $15.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $7.99 Coupon Link

Be the Master by Don Jones - Suggested Price: $15.00, Regular Minimum Price: $15.00, Coupon Price: $12.00 Coupon Link

Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way by Clemens Lode - Suggested Price: $12.95, Regular Minimum Price: $9.95, Coupon Price: $7.46 Coupon Link

Build APIs You Won’t Hate by Phil Sturgeon - Suggested Price: $29.99, Regular Minimum Price: $26.99, Coupon Price: $18.89 Coupon Link

Code Reviews 101 (Code Reviews 101 - The wisdom of good coding) by Giuliana Carullo - Suggested Price: $45.00, Regular Minimum Price: $30.00, Coupon Price: $18.00 Coupon Link

Composing Software by Eric Elliott - Suggested Price: $34.00, Regular Minimum Price: $34.00, Coupon Price: $25.50 Coupon Link

Developing with Angular by Denys Vuika - Suggested Price: $30.00, Regular Minimum Price: $10.00, Coupon Price: $7.00 Coupon Link

Diving For Hidden Treasures by Johanna Rothman and Jutta Eckstein - Suggested Price: $15.00, Regular Minimum Price: $10.00, Coupon Price: $8.00 Coupon Link

ES6 in Practice (Book + Video + Source Code: 15 Lectures, 59 Exercises and Solutions + Bonuses + Source Code of the Examples and Exercises) by Zsolt Nagy - Suggested Price: $49.99, Regular Minimum Price: $24.99, Coupon Price: $12.50 Coupon Link

Exponential Happiness by Judson L Moore - Suggested Price: $14.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $5.00 Coupon Link

Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives (Personal Usage) by Ben Linders and Luis Gonçalves - Suggested Price: $9.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $7.99 Coupon Link

Instructional Design for Mortals by Don Jones - Suggested Price: $12.00, Regular Minimum Price: $8.00, Coupon Price: $7.20 Coupon Link

Joy of Elixir by Ryan Bigg - Suggested Price: $20.00, Regular Minimum Price: $15.00, Coupon Price: $12.00 Coupon Link

Multitenancy with Rails - 2nd edition by Ryan Bigg - Suggested Price: $25.00, Regular Minimum Price: $20.00, Coupon Price: $16.00 Coupon Link

SurviveJS - Maintenance by Juho Vepsäläinen and Artem Sapegin - Suggested Price: $14.99, Regular Minimum Price: $14.99, Coupon Price: $7.50 Coupon Link

SurviveJS - React by Juho Vepsäläinen - Suggested Price: $15.99, Regular Minimum Price: $15.99, Coupon Price: $8.00 Coupon Link

SurviveJS - Webpack by Juho Vepsäläinen, Tobias Koppers and Jesús Rodríguez Rodríguez - Suggested Price: $19.99, Regular Minimum Price: $19.99, Coupon Price: $10.00 Coupon Link

Theory of Constraints (TOC) - Application for Projects by Rajeev Athavale - Suggested Price: $25.00, Regular Minimum Price: $15.00, Coupon Price: $10.50 Coupon Link

Understanding the Four Rules of Simple Design (The Book, Single Copy License) by Corey Haines - Suggested Price: $17.99, Regular Minimum Price: $17.99, Coupon Price: $10.79 Coupon Link

Bundles

ASP.NET Core and Docker for Microservices by Arnaud Weil - Suggested Price: $32.97, Regular Bundle Price: $18.60, Coupon Price: $14.14 Coupon Link

CSS Optimization Basics + Upgrade Your HTML by Jens Oliver Meiert - Suggested Price: $11.98, Regular Bundle Price: $8.99, Coupon Price: $4.99 Coupon Link

Modern Management Made Easy by Johanna Rothman - Suggested Price: $29.97, Regular Bundle Price: $24.99, Coupon Price: $19.99 Coupon Link

Pro CSS Bundle by Ben Frain and Jens Oliver Meiert - Suggested Price: $24.98, Regular Bundle Price: $14.99, Coupon Price: $11.99 Coupon Link

The DevOps Toolkit Series (volumes 4, 6, and 7): Kubernetes by Viktor Farcic - Suggested Price: $114.00, Regular Bundle Price: $70.00, Coupon Price: $56.00 Coupon Link

Courses

Complete Practical LINQ Tutorial in C# by EngineerSpock - Suggested Price: $12.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $5.00 Coupon Link

Double Your Coding Speed with Visual Studio and ReSharper by EngineerSpock - Suggested Price: $12.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $5.00 Coupon Link

Programming for Kids by Peter Armstrong - Suggested Price: $19.00, Regular Minimum Price: $9.00, Coupon Price: $4.99 Coupon Link

Software Architecture: Meta and SOLID Principles in C# by EngineerSpock - Suggested Price: $12.99, Regular Minimum Price: $9.99, Coupon Price: $5.00 Coupon Link

TDD in C# From A to Z by EngineerSpock - Suggested Price: $20.00, Regular Minimum Price: $10.00, Coupon Price: $5.00 Coupon Link

Recent Podcasts

Subscribe to our Frontmatter podcast for interviews with Leanpub authors and experts from the publishing industry. These are our most recent podcast episodes...

Special Guest: Marshall Poe - Marshall is the founder of the New Books Network and author of How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History Of History. In this interview, Marshall talks about his background, how he got interested in Russian history, the development of the academic study of history in the United States and its German roots, Wikipedia and the collaborative nature of knowledge, and the creation and success of the New Books Network. Listen Now

Alberto Brandolini - Alberto is the author of the Leanpub book Introducing EventStorming: An act of Deliberate Collective Learning. In this interview, Alberto talks about his background… and at the end, about his experience as a self-published author. Listen Now

Nicholas Russo - Nick is the author of the Leanpub book Fifty Pieces of Gold: An Engineer’s Musings on Business and Life. In this interview, Nick talks about what he’s been up to since he last appeared on the podcast, becoming a father, getting into the challenging work of making technical training videos for some of the world’s top training video providers, starting his own business, about his latest book, and at the end, they talk a little bit about his experience as a self-published author. Listen Now

Ana Bell - Ana is the author of the Manning Publications course Get Programming with Python in Motion. [That was an affiliate link. Support the Leanpub Frontmatter Podcast with your purchase!] In this interview, Ana talks about her background, how she got into Computer Science, and what it’s like teaching popular MIT programming courses both in person and online. Listen Now

What's Next

We’ve been working on some infrastructure improvements, as well as some larger user-facing features.

These are some of the user-facing features we think we’re going to ship next:

  1. Mobile and small-screen friendly redesign of the homepage, search page and author app. This includes scrapping the massive header menu. Hooray! (It does NOT, however, include redesigning the book landing pages to be better on mobile. That will come later.)
  2. Better self-serve author and reader delete options. This isn’t that important to you, but it’s more important to us, since it will reduce our support work even further.
  3. Actually being able to pay for the sponsored newsletter spots that you see in this newsletter :)

Finally, in terms of the longer-term work on Markua, this has been started and stopped a few times over the past number of months. We obviously have a lot of Markua work still to do, but we also have book generation infrastructure improvements to do, and it may make sense for us to do some of those first. So, frankly, even though it is still a long-term priority, it is currently blocked. Once we’ve improved our infrastructure, we plan to be back to improving Markua later this year.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope you enjoyed this newsletter. If you have questions, please email hello@leanpub.com. (Don't reply to this email: we send it from an unmonitored email address.)

Also, we have monthly and weekly sale newsletters too!

The Leanpub Monthly Sale newsletter features a huge sale, plus news for Leanpub readers and links to recent podcast episodes. The Leanpub Weekly Sale newsletter is like our monthly sale, but a lot shorter, and weekly. If you like sales, and you like our emails, you'll probably like both of them.

You can subscribe or unsubscribe from all our emails from your email settings page. You can also subscribe to our emails from our mailing lists page.

Thanks for reading, and, as always, thanks for being a Leanpub author!

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