In less than a year, Nathan Barry has sold over $150,000 in self-published books. Did we mention, he’s also a first-time author who started with absolutely no audience to speak of?
Pretty amazing, right!? So how did he do it?
He’ll tell you in his new book, Authority, which was published today.
We also had the privilege to sit down with him and ask him a few questions of our own. Like what it was like to leave his 9 to 5 job in favor of starting his own career in self-publishing and how he’s doing today. Keep reading for all the juicy details!
Q: How did you get started writing?
Nathan: I started working on The App Design Handbook because my developer friends kept asking for design help with their iOS apps. I couldn’t find good resources to refer them to, so I decided to write my own. I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time, so I started a few but never made it past the first few pages. For this book I made a commitment to write every day and that is what helped me actually finish.
Q: When you were publishing the first book what were your expectations for sales ? Did your ever think you could do 100k in your first year?
Nathan: I hoped to sell $10,000 worth of my book total. I ended up selling $12,000 in the first day. I thought you needed a huge audience to hit numbers like $100k. Turns out you can do that just with the right tactics.
Q: What sort of opportunities has publishing opened up for you? How has it changed your life ?
Nathan: I have more freedom now. Since my expenses are low I have put most of my book profits in the bank. I haven’t worried about money since the day I launched my first book.
Conferences are completely different now. Not only do I get asked to speak (which is awesome), but people approach me. Since I’ve always been quiet and shy I had a hard time meeting new people. Now I don’t have to since other attendees walk up and say “I bought your book and loved it!” It’s so much fun!
Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about publishing? How has it affected your readers? Any stories you could share?
Nathan: Finding one thing is hard, but I love seeing redesigned apps after reading my books. I am most excited about hearing stories from Authority since it will have a big life impact for other people. One friend already reported an extra $15,000 in revenue from implementing my pricing and packaging strategies!
Q: You opted to self publish and sell direct vs. going thru Amazon or the iBookstore. Was that a conscious decision and if so, what did the decision making process look like?
Nathan: Yep, that decision has been very important for actually making money. In order to make money from a small audience you need to own the customer list (have their email addresses) and set a higher price (at least $20-40). Amazon and iBooks prevent you from doing either one.
Q: All of your books have been created with iBooks Author. Why did you choose that as your content publishing platform, and what sorts of things would you like to see Apple add to the application?
Nathan: I love iBooks Author and use it to create my PDFs even though I don’t publish on the iBooks Store. I don’t have any specific requests, it’s a great program and it makes me want to write more books.
Q: Looking back, what sort of advice would you give to someone thinking about publishing an eBook?
Nathan: Focus on teaching a skill that other people use to make money. By doing that you can target an audience that is willing to pay for what you teach—since it will make them more money in the future. Examples include design, programming, business, marketing, etc. How to play video games better is not a skill that makes money, so it will be much harder to get an audience who is willing to pay to learn it.
Judy Blume has said “The best books come from someplace inside. You don’t write because you want to, but because you have to.” would you say that quote resonates with you ? If so, how did you arrive at that place and what kept you going thru the hard times ?
My first two design books I wrote because I wanted to. It was a message I wanted to get out to a larger audience. But Authority I wrote because I had to. A year ago I didn’t know all this was possible. After doing it myself I am so eager to share with other people. Tactics like my packaging method make such a difference in revenue that I can’t help but share them!
Q: You’ve been hailed as one of the new up and comers in the microprenuer crowd. How did you get to where you are today, and what kept you going before you experienced your first real success?
Nathan: Slow steady progress is the key to achieving any big goal. For me that meant writing 1,000 words every day. Without that I never would have finished my first book, let alone written three in a single year.
Q: What was it like transitioning away from a 9 to 5 job and into the world of entrepreneurship? Did you have a migration plan? How did the switch effect your family/life, and what were you looking for when you set out on your own?
Nathan: I left my job about a year before I started working on books. I had built an iPhone app that was making a few thousand dollars a month, so I used that to add stability to my freelance income. I also saved up about $30,000 before quitting.
Q: Now that you’ve been on your own for some time, do you think that it was worth it? Do you ever look back? Do you think you’ve found what you were looking for when you gave up working a traditional 9 to 5 job?
Nathan: It was totally worth it. Sometimes I miss working in an office with a team, but I’ve met so many great people through everything I’ve done on my own I wouldn’t go back.
Q: You’re also known as someone who gets an incredible amount done, while juggling a happy marriage and kids. How are you able to produce as much as you do and keep a sustainable balance with your other commitments?
Nathan: I say ‘no’ to a lot of things. I don’t take freelance projects anymore since they distract too much from my family and the projects I care about. Otherwise I just set clear goals (book launches, etc) and work towards them each day.
Q: What do you do for inspiration? What do you do when you hit the inevitable writers blocks that plague us all?
Nathan: My new ideas always come from creating. Bringing one idea to life always results in half a dozen new ideas.
As for writers block, you just need to lower your standards and keep writing. Usually writers block is from trying to get a sentence or an idea perfect. Instead lower your standards, get something on the page, then edit and improve it later.
Note: we also have a great blog post about beating procrastination here.
Q: Anything else you would like to share for writers and publishers who are just getting started? Do you have any questions you would like to ask your readers or others who are in a similar position to you?
Nathan:Make sure to surround yourself with friends working on similar things. Writing can be quite lonely, so have people to discuss and celebrate with. Your regular friends won’t be able to relate to pulling in $20k in a single day from a book launch.
Q: You’ve obviously learned a tremendous amount about self publishing in the past few years, and your upcoming book, Authority, looks to be an experienced based summary of all the lessons you’ve learned. If you had to boil it down to three key lessons what would they be?
Nathan: Learn constantly, teach everything you know, and write every day.
Nathan Barry is a software designer and self-published author living the entrepreneurial dream. You can find him writing some amazing articles over at his blog or follow him @nathanbarry on Twitter.
Psst…we can help you design your own book with our professionally designed iBooks Author templates here).