We were so impressed with Dawn Warnaar of the by Dawn Nicole blog and her success creating her own product, an ebook. It all started with a popular blog post and a reader’s comment. That turned into an ebook of coloring pages which hit during a major trend (coloring books for adults) and she sold over 2,000 copies! That led to print book offers and design jobs with big brands. We asked her to share how it all happened and she graciously accepted our request for an interview.
I created a hand-lettered and illustrated Be Kind Printable as a contributor for Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke. After the post went live, a reader commented and asked if we could turn it into a coloring page so we edited the post to include a coloring page version of the print. An eBook had been something I wanted to do but until that moment, I was unsure what I wanted the topic to be. After the success of that post, I got right to work on the Color Me Inspired eBook.
How did you promote your ebook?
I read on Enterpreneneur.com that most eBooks never sell over 250 copies. A lot of people write a book and then just hope it will sell. I realized I needed a game plan to launch and promote the eBook.
I promoted it by sharing sneak peeks on social media and while I was working on it to build excitement and created the hashtag #colormeinspired to use for all book posts on IG and also so readers can share pics of the coloring pages they’ve done from the book. I also really worked on growing my email list (a ton of sales came via my email list that first month and I gave them a special promo code with an expiration date). Aside from that, I promoted just like my other blog posts with Pinterest campaigns and also shared in a promotional FB blogging group. I offered a free copy to any publisher who would share on social media.
To keep the momentum of sales going, I share free coloring pages on my site and then link to the eBook at the end of the post.
What did you use to design the book and what did it cost?
I did it all myself using Adobe Illustrator so it actually didn’t cost me anything but time. I sell the eBook on both Etsy and Gumroad in PDF format. Sales are split almost 50% on each platform. At the time I released the eBook Gumroad didn’t take PayPal, so that is why I opted to use both platforms. But for my next eBook, I’d definitely use both platforms again considering how evenly sales have been split.
Do you have an affiliate program?
No, but Gumroad recently launched an affiliate program so I’m considering it.
Can you tell us more about your real book deals, when your books will come out, and how publishers found you?
I’m far from an expert, but the eBook has sold over 2k copies since April so it’s been a great source of income (and led to two “real” book deals).
I believe both publishers found me via social media. The first book I did, Words to Live By: Creative Hand-Lettering, Coloring, and Inspirations is available for pre-order and will be released April 1, 2016. The most recent book deal is a print version of the Color Me Inspired eBook, but with a few edits made. We took out some pages and added some new ones. The title will be the same but it will have a new cover. That should come out January 1, 2016.
Several of my biggest design jobs to date are also a direct result of companies seeing my eBook on social media! You’ll start seeing my licensed lettering and artwork pop up in national and international projects over the next few months and early next year.
Is there an easy way to give the ebook free to publishers who share or did you manually send it to everyone?
Yes, I just uploaded the eBook to Dropbox and created a password to share with the publishers who shared it for me. I did email each of them manually to give out that information though because I wanted to thank them for taking the time to help me promote the eBook.
Any advice for publishers who want to make an ebook?
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s a coloring book and I think I totally lucked out with the coloring trend all of the sudden blowing up at the time I put it out, so I think some of the success of the eBook can certainly be attributed to good timing!
I loved the book process and it was a great source of income for me this year. I would definitely reiterate how important a marketing plan is to a successful book launch.
I’d recommended paying the money to file an official copyright registration. It was $55 and having that paperwork came in really handy when the publisher wanted to do a print version. Since I already had registered the copyright, we were able to keep the title of the book.
What about pricing?
Pricing is something I struggled over. There are a lot of things to consider: the length of the book, the quality, whether or not people get this info elsewhere, your following, does the book fit your site niche, etc. I think when you work so hard on something, there is a tendency to overprice. Originally, I planned on $15 but after talking with Kristen Duke about how she priced her eBooks and how most people will buy anything for $10, I’m really happy I took her advice and lowered the price to $10, but still kept it high enough I can do coupon codes and sales to help promote it as well.
What’s next for you?
Next up, my publisher is ready for me to pitch ideas for the next book so I’m working on a list of ideas!
Thank you Dawn! After reading this, what ebook could you create and how can you best market it? Please share a link to your ebook in the comments, let us know your idea for one, or let us know how it’s going!