Ryan Hanley

author, speaker, marketing geek

7 Completely Stupid eBook Publishing Mistakes

ebook publishing mistakes

No one buys my awesome eBook.

I mean a few people do…

But 10 sales a month doesn’t exactly send you’re self-confidence as a purveyor of knowledge to the Moon.

(Use this link to get your own personal copy of: The Social Tools Book and help me shamelessly boost my self-esteem while you learn some cool social media stuff at the same time)

Why do I only sell 10 copies a month?

It’s not because my book sucks (see the first sentence of this blog post, it’s actually awesome)… But rather as an eBook author I’ve made some really Stupid eBook Publishing Mistakes and now I’m paying for it.

Don’t Let Your Friends Make These Stupid eBook Publishing Mistakes – Click To Tweet

I don’t want this to happen to you…

Shit… I don’t want this to happen to me again.

So what I’ve done is compile a of list of  Stupid eBook Publishing Mistakes, that I made, which you should avoid.

#1 Say NO to Kindle Select

My Stupidity:

I thought it would be awesome to submit my eBook to Kindle Direct Publishing Select (Makes your title exclusive to Kindle for 90 days and allows book borrowing).

I imagined all these Kindle Prime users downloading my book and sharing it with their friends.  Think of all the Buzz… All the sales, I’d be the topic of Writing Blogs as a uber-success story.  My little Social Tools Book.  Killing it.


I’m not talking about regular Kindle… but rather Kindle Select… Kindle Select may be great for writers that are already popular on Kindle.  But for first time hacks like myself it’s a serious hand-cuff to selling your book.  You are basically locked into the Kindle system for 90 days… No fun.

#2 Find an Editor Even If It’s Your Mom

My Stupidity:

Being a first-time hack I thought that writing an eBook was like writing a blog post… You know, I could just write and write… skim over… hit publish… I’m an Author.


When you write an eBook the quality of your writing is SO MUCH more important.  People are paying for this so you can’t be finishing and beginning thoughts with the “…” like I love to do all the time.  Punctuation matters… affect vs effect matters… Formatting matters… Everything matters and it matters a lot.  You need to have someone editing your content… For future writing I will most certainly hire a professional editor.

#3 Pre-Launch Hype… If Frat Boys Can Do It

My Stupidity:

I did not hype my eBook at all.  I decided I wanted to write an eBook so I did… and once it was done I published it.  But nobody knew it was coming and they certainly weren’t jacked out of their minds for it’s arrival.  I thought once you had your book on Amazon, the Amazon universe just started buying…


Why are Frat Parties so successful even though they’re held is basements where the beer and sweat is so thick your shoes stick to the floor?  The hype the crap out of them… Then they tell you to get in you need to bring 10 friends…

Putting your book on Amazon doesn’t mean squat.  Amazon doesn’t care about your book because Amazon has millions of books.  The Field of Dreams style eBook publishing does NOT work.  If you want to have a big release day people need to know you’re masterpiece is coming and you want them tearing their hair out in anticipation (which would lead to an excellent 2nd book, “How To Fix Your Anticipation Torn Out Hair).  

#4 Have a Goal Other Than Being an Author

My Stupidity:

I saw a need within the Small Business community for a straight-forward guide on how to leverage the The Social Tools that drives traffic to websites.  I didn’t have a sales goal or business goal or even a personal goal for what I wanted out of the book.  I saw the need, I wrote, I published.  But now I look at my sales and I’m like, “Damn, I want more…” but how much and when and more importantly why?


If you don’t know where you want the be then how the heck are you supposed to get there.  Do you want to be on the Kindle Best Seller list for your niche?  Do you want to be on the iStore best sellers list? Do you want to be a New York Times best seller?  All great goals and all achievable.  Have a goal first, so you can plan to get there.

#5 The eBook Covers Matters

My Stupidity:

social tools book

I had no clue that the eBook cover mattered.  I thought… eBook… electronic book… It’s a file in someone’s computer… what does the cover matter?  Holy crap the cover matters… If you cover is a piece of junk like mine (Go ahead at look at my Sales Page for the book.  Even if you have no intention of buying my awesome eBook just look at how bad that cover is) people are not going to buy your book.


Humans are visual.  Very visual… And if the visual your cover gives a potential reader is GARBAGE then they are not going to buy your book.  I went to Fiverr.com.  I’m sure you can get decent covers off Fiverr.com.  But take my advice, spend the $300 and go to a graphic designer who will give you something Gangster that will make potential buyers salivate.

#6 Who Knows Your eBook Exists Matters

My Stupidity:

No one was hyping or promoting with me.  I launched and went back to business like I had just published a new blog post.  Nobody knew.  I didn’t have A-listers or niche partners or anyone pushing for me… I didn’t do Guest Posts and I didn’t get testimonials of the book prior to publish.


Potential buyers need Social Validation that their purchase isn’t a waste.  They want to see Niche Experts or A-Listers or hundreds of common folk singing the praises of your work.  This is why every New York Times Best Seller has a bunch of reviews on the back.  You need reviews from people your readers will know giving their endorsement that this book is OK to purchase.

#7 You Must Beat Them Into Submission

My Stupidity:

I write about a lot of different things (Loosely related to Online Success and Awesomeness for Small Business) on this website.  How is anyone to know that I have written an amazingly awesome eBook if I don’t consistently tell them?  They won’t… I didn’t and now I’m writing a blog post about how stupid a publisher I am.


You either need to be a Superstar (So it doesn’t matter what you write) or your Online Content (Meaning Blog, Website, Social Media, Newsletter) needs to closely or exactly follow and relate to your eBook.  You need to be mentioning your eBook, sharing testimonials, giving away chapters as teasers… Basically your Online content needs to convince people that they should invest in your eBook.

The Rub

So I threw in some very cheap and shameless links to my eBook: The Social Tools Book10 Social Tools Essential to Business Blogging Success.

There is two reasons for this:

  1. I think you’ll find the book fun and useful and very worth the $7.99 you have pay for it… You’re almost stealing the information from me.
  2. I wanted to make the obnoxious point that you HAVE TO MENTION that you have written a book in order for people to know you’ve written a book.

You probably shouldn’t mimic this post when you do it.  But a tasteful ASK once in a while is fine. Your blog is one of the best internet marketing tools for everything you do.  Use it!

Also please don’t make the stupid mistakes that I made when publishing my awesome eBook.

Thank you and Good luck.

Ryan H.

P.S. I’ve putting a lot of work into my Facebook page lately and I’d love to connect further – Connect on Facebook.

SPEAK YOUR MIND: What pitfalls did you find in the eBook publishing process?

About Ryan Hanley

I help make sales easy through content marketing. My work as a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and Amazon bestseller author will help your business establish authority, attract an audience and grow revenue. Hire me to speak at your next event or grab a copy of my new book, Content Warfare.

  • A.P. Neto

    I didn’t do the whole “let’s hype people up” thing. I was like”OH MY GOD, I’m done. Let’s publish! Yay!”
    Regretting that.
    I mean, I thought people would read the blurb, be interested, and buy the book. I guess nothing is ever that simple, right?
    Author of ‘Void’.
    Good luck with the marketing! Hopefully we all learn from our first book errors.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley


      We really do have to give people a reason to buy. We believe as authors that by putting our heart and soul into a book that our audience will as well.

      This simply is not the case. However, if we push as hard on marketing as did on writing there is a chance we’ll reach the tipping point.


      Ryan H.

  • http://www.spi-global.com/content-solutions/our-services/publishing-solutions/conversion John P. Wheeler

    Hey Ryan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ebook publishing. I’m currently developing my content and this was a big help. Wondering what your thoughts are on epub conversion services. Is it worth investing in?

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

    Very nice Derek! very nice… great start.

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  • http://www.iquestintl.com John Ernest

    Most of the time writers will be so used to reading what they write that they think their mistakes are only natural. Very few writers have the knowledge to instantly see their writing mistakes, but a lot of other people can. This makes getting an editor even as simple as your mom very important.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      I find that printing out your work and reading it Offline can drastically increase your error find rate.


      Ryan H.

  • http://www.planetnaveen.com Naveen Kulkarni

    Thoroughly engaging post Ryan,
    You have given me a lot to think about especially when I am beginning to write my new eBook :-)

    Thanks for this checklist.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      No doubt Naveen… Let me know how the book comes along…


  • http://ryzeonline.com Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca

    So awesome, Ryan :)

    I believe we talked about this briefly in e-mail 😀

    I’d like to address this:

    “If you don’t know where you want the be then how the heck are you supposed to get there. ”

    Because you’re giving me this advice, the same week I received this in my inbox from Leo Babauta.

    “Consider this common belief: “You’ll never get anywhere unless you know where you’re going.” This seems so common sensical, and yet it’s obviously not true if you stop to think about it. Conduct a simple experiment: go outside and walk in a random direction, and feel free to change directions randomly. After 20 minutes, an hour … you’ll be somewhere! It’s just that you didn’t know you were going to end up there.

    And there’s the rub: you have to open your mind to going places you never expected to go. If you live without goals, you’ll explore new territory. ”


    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      J-Ryze… Always making my brain work! Love it…

      So i have two thoughts on that.

      One exploring is amazing for personal growth. It teaches you who you are and what you want out of life.

      But if Success is what you seek then eventually I believe you need to understand what it is that makes you happy and what path will take you there.

      Then walk it. Or run it if you’re feelin’ froggy. Or rent a dump truck and plow your up the path if you’re feelin’ Gangster.

      Does that make sense?

      • http://ryzeonline.com Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca

        Surely in life there’s a place for both ways. Goals, and no goals 😉

        You got ME thinking 😛 Here’s a question:

        “But if Success is what you seek then eventually I believe you need to understand what it is that makes you happy and what path will take you there.”

        Doesn’t what makes you happy continually change, often very, very quickly?
        And so then isn’t setting a goal and sticking to _a_ path, next to impossible? 😉

        • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

          ah ha! I never said that Goal must remain the same… Just that you should be pursuing… vigorously.

          It’s the action of pursuit.

  • http://www.stevebaines.biz Steve Baines

    Great Post Ryan – Thank you for sharing your mistakes with us :) I’ll be sure and learn from them!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      No doubt buddy… Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.petersandeen.com/landing-page-evaluation/ Peter Sandeen

    Hi Ryan,

    Great pointers here, and I’m sure your next ebook will do much better (are you planning one?).

    The one thing I could add to this list: your sales page (I hope you know me well enough to know that I don’t mean to be rude or anything like that…) (and I’m sure you know I’m biased because evaluating landing pages is a big part of my business…) is working against you… Maybe that’s your next post?

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      I have been working on the design of the Landing Page… I know you are right.

      Design is not one of my specialties. For sure… For sure for sure…

      Thanks Peter.

      • http://affectselling.com/marketing/ Peter Sandeen

        Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than most landing pages, it just could be a lot better 😉

        If you plan to hire a designer for a book cover, then maybe you could hire someone (hint, hint) to help you with landing page designing too 😉

        • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

          That is actually a conversation we will be having… no doubt!!

          • http://affectselling.com/marketing/ Peter Sandeen

            I hope “we” includes me 😉

  • http://www.writersblockadminservices.com Jo Harrison

    Interesting post Ryan, and I must say your number 1 problem needn’t be a problem if you followed the rest of your problems through. My late Grandfather’s book has been in KDP Select and after offering a few free day promotions the sales have increased quite a bit. As long as you promote before and after the free promotion you’ll gain a lot from it. When people download the book for free, it will then start showing up in searches on Amazon (‘see what others bought’ or similar for example). I have read a lot of blog posts saying how good KDP Select is, I think you just have to work the system a little bit and promote a lot!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      I agree with you to a certain extent but you are missing out on Website sales, iStore sales, Barnes and Noble sales…

      So if you’re trying to hit every avenue then it does limit you to that extent.

      However, I have NOT used KDP Select to it’s fullest extent for sure.

      Thank you!

      • http://www.writersblockadminservices.com Jo Harrison

        In terms of my Grandfather’s book it was selling better on Amazon anyway, the sales I was getting through the other channels were less and that’s why I decided to give it a go for 90 days. But his book is quite a niche, so I think that’s why sales weren’t that good elsewhere.

        I have only had 2 borrows on Amazon.com since I signed up, but it did reach the top 10 free Kindle books on the first free promotion day which was great, we received over 1000 downloads.

        • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

          Hmmmm… I’m going to have to do some strategizing… Thanks!!

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

    Thanks Christine! It’s nice to know that others have made the same mistakes.

    I do agree that when you make mistakes it helps you to focus on your problems and ultimately make you stronger.

    Glad you stopped by!

    Ryan H.

  • http://www.ordersciencebooks.com Pete Goumas

    Hi Ryan,
    I am first time visiting your blog and it’s really a good blog. We all did mistakes in the journey of ebook publishing and by the time those mistakes look futile but it is good to learn from mistakes and share your experience with others like you do :)

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks pete! Glad you stopped by…

      Ryan H.

  • http://www.craigmcbreen.com/ Craig McBreen

    Hi Ryan,

    Great points and thanks, especially for #3 and #6. I’m working on one right now and will make sure I don’t make these mistakes 😉 So, thanks for putting this out there.

    So here’s my Pre-Launch Hype. “I’m releasing and ebook soon. Stay tuned!” I need to work on that hype, huh? 😉

    And I will find an editor! Thanks!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Let me know where I can sign up for announcements on your eBook…


      • http://www.craigmcbreen.com/ Craig McBreen

        Will do! :)

  • http://www.appsblogger.com/business-of-storytelling/ Jeanne Pi

    While I agree that you should definitely get your book professionally edited, it’s probably not in the budget for most first-time self publishers. At a minimum, get a good friend or family member to proofread the book for you. In the final analysis, good content can overcome bad editing. A great example is the book, The Millionaire Fastlane, by MJ DeMarco. It’s a great book with sound concepts, but it is painfully obvious that he did not use a professional book editor.

    And yes, the book cover absolutely matters. It’s a great sales tool. Even if you don’t sell many books, having a great looking book you can put on your website makes a lot of difference in people’s perception. Have you thought about getting a different cover designed for your book, Ryan? You might get more mileage out of it than you think, beyond the actual book sales.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      I agree that hiring a professional editor is NOT a necessity but having an Editor is a necessity. If you’re Editor isn’t going to be professional then I might want 2 or 3 non-professional editors…

      And yes I am efforting towards a better eBook cover for The Social Tools Book. Probably will launch the new cover at the same time my new eBook comes out.


      Ryan H.

  • http://planetecomsolutions.com/ Puneet

    Thats really a nice post. I am thinking to start an e-book about SEO techniques. And I got this post which is very helpful in this situation. I will surely avoid these mistakes.

  • http://www.jackiepurnell.com Jackie


    Thanks for the candid heads up on your experience. Most of us have a book in us somewhere and I know that its something on my agenda. I’ve read a few expereiences in review on kindle publishing lately so I’m living vicariously and learning through others….hopefully it may shortcut some of the pain.

    Love this –
    “I thought once you had your book on Amazon, the Amazon universe just started buying…” don’t we all 😉

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Jackie… I believe whenever we have an experience good, bad or otherwise that can help someone else is always good to share.

      …how about naivete? Amazon still = work.

      Ryan H.

  • http://www.internetentrepreneurconnection.com Hector Avellaneda

    It’s a learning process Ryan. The great thing is that ou’ve identified what are the key aspects of your ebook launch that made it not as big as the success you wanted it to be. I am writing an ebook myself and I can definitely see myself making some of the same mistakes but I think one of the reasons why it’s taking me so long to actually release it (I’ve been promoting it since last October and hope to release by yours end) is because I am trying to make everything perfect. Like you said, content quality and how you right are SUPER important compared to a blog post. I have a lot of ideas and I am actually going to be requesting and making myself available for interviews with podcasters to reach some of their audiences as well.

    Let’s experiment and see how well my launch is! I cannot wait and I am SUPER excited!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Build up is definitely important. You want people anxious for the release. Do you worry that people who signed up 10 months prior to release will have forgotten why they were excited for the Book in the first place?


      Ryan H.

      • http://www.internetentrepreneurconnection.com Hector Avellaneda

        In some ways I do but I am always keeping people updated and am always tying the topics that I write about on my blog to he relevance they have on my book! 15 days before the release however I plan to market heavily and to build up the release. I’ll definitely let you know what kind of results I get. Also, have you seen what I did on my Facebook fan page to promote my book? Check it out and let me know what you think (psst.. you should Like it! :) ) – https://www.facebook.com/InternetEntrepreneurConnection

        • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

          I just liked it…

          Couple thoughts on Facebook Page…

          1) I love how you’re using the Cover Photo to get attention for your Book.
          2) Where do people sign-up to get updates for the Book from the Facebook page?

          I couldn’t find a page or a link?

  • http://gettingrichslowly.net Ruth Barringham

    You’re absolutely correct (IMHO) that ebook covers count. I don’t know if this will help or not but I found a guy who is a brilliant graphic designer and can create 3D ebook covers in two different styles for only $27 and he provides the images etc.

    His name is Buddy and while English is obviously not his first language, if you can get your mind past the bad grammar on his website, you’ll see that he is brilliant at what he does. He’s designed several ebook covers for me and delivered them in only 1 or 2 days. I just tell him the colour scheme I want and the idea that I want my cover to invoke in the reader’s mind. For instance, when I wrote my ebook called “Living the Laptop Lifestyle” I told him I wanted the cover to represent an easy lifestyle working from home on a laptop computer rather than making money from a laptop computer. The cover he created was bang on target.

    So if you need an awesome 3D ebook cover fast (and at low cost) he really is the go-to guy. His website is at http://www.coverscorp.com where he has a really impressive portfolio.

    And I’m not affiliated to him in any way. I just think he does brilliant work. He can also create a sales page to match your ebook cover too.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Thanks for the fantastic resource! Absolutely appreciate you sharing!

      The eBook cover is so important.

      Ryan H.

  • http://evenminds.com Jason Anthony

    Ahh, I see these as Seven Ways To Successfully Launch Your Ebook :)

    There’s nothing I enjoy more than a first-person case study and I think its great you have shared your experience here, Ryan. I think the look and feel are very important, and whats most important (like you said) is awareness.

    You have to implement some sort of strategy or launch process in order to get it off the ground. If you notice how some of the big name players operate, you’ll notice that they’ve set up a support and promotion process before they ever sell/send out the first copy.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Jason… When you watch the big-guys they all work together promoting each other’s stuff so they all get bigger with more exposure.

      Kind like a Commenting Tribe… It’s the mutual support that gets the Product off the ground and into the mainstream.

      Thanks buddy!

  • Chris Nadeau

    This post has been “evernoted” :-) I have been thinking about an eBook and these are definitely tips I will want to review if I decide to create an ebook or even another product for that matter.

    Great advice Ryan and thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Chris!

      EBooks are very cool to produce and market… You can really dive into a topic and help people.

      Good luck buddy!

  • http://shannamann.com Shanna Mann

    This is a great post. I’m embarking on my second book, so I’ll probably print this out and staple it to the wall.

    My first book was kind of a similar disaster, from a marketing perspective. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was following my co-author’s lead and learning all I could from him, but he had two other books he was working on, and didn’t really do a three-ring circus marketing-wise.

    I don’t mind. I like to do a small scale trial on stuff with a steep learning curve. But my new book will be different. It’s getting the red carpet treatment :)

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Shanna… I love where your head is at! I do the same I do small scale run at things and make a bunch of mistakes… Learn and go big second time around.

      Good luck!!!

  • http://blog.mineralifeonline.com/ Neil Butterfield

    Thanks for this advice. It must be quite different writing an E book and writing a blog.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      So much different in certain ways for sure!

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Thanks for writing this Ryan. It is on my mind to publish an eBook but I’m not sure where to start. Your post has given me some ideas now (and what not to do). Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Sian… I’m happy to help you get the ball rolling! Best of luck and Thanks for Sharing!!!

      Ryan H.

  • http://daily42.com Sylvia

    Hi Ryan,
    I never had the opportunity to do my very own e-book yet, and I find your post about it very useful and informative. I’m bookmarking your article for future reference. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Sylvia! I’m very happy to help!

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