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The Insiders View of How I Launched My New Ebook

Updated: I’ve added a few quick updates on how the launch has gone at the bottom of this post.

Over on my main blog – Digital Photography School – we have today launched our first ever ebook – The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography.

We’re launching with a 25% discount so if you’re interested in improving your portrait photography it’s well worth checking out – however I thought I’d jot down a few notes in a post here about some of the process that I’ve been through in putting the ebook together. I’ve been documenting the launch (and pre-launch) in the ProBlogger.com forums for weeks now but here are a few of the reflections I’ve made condensed into one post.

The ebook came about largely out of a lot of emails from readers who were either:

  • asking for information on portraits
  • asking for recommendations of books/resources on portraits
  • asking for us to pull some of our best posts together into a condensed form


Much of the content in this ebook is previously posted content from the DPS blog. We’ve published hundreds of posts on the topic of portraits so the challenge was pulling together the best of it, updating it and editing it so that it read better in an ebook rather than as blog posts. I also commissioned some extra content on topics that were lacking a little and also approached 6 Pro Photographers to be interviewed for the Bonus Section.

The other challenge was finding images for the ebook. Most of them were found from Creative Commons commercially available images on Flickr

Bonus Section

As mentioned above – I decided to approach a number of photographers to get their input on this ebook. They were largely I had relationship with previously and I did it for a number of reasons. Firstly I think it improves the book and adds a dimension not already in it with just the ‘theory’ in the first section. The interviews bring in other voices and also practical examples of portrait photography.

Secondly it brings in some credibility – most of those chosen have names in the industry and this helps sell the book to have them associated with the project.

Thirdly – having a ‘bonus’ adds value and gives extra motivation to buyers.


One of our writers on DPS (Neil Creek) is married to a great designer (Naomi from StarFishBlue) who I commissioned to pull together this ebook. Naomi pulled together all the content and images and also arranged for the book to be professionally proofread.


I’m using E-junkie (aff) to serve the ebook and act as shopping cart. I’ve chosen ejunkie largely based upon my experience with it with the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. While not the most feature rich option out there I find it more than adequate for my needs and considering it only costs me $5 to set up an account it’s a bargain.


This is the first ebook that we’ve sold from DPS so the waters are untested to some degree as to how the community will respond. I’ve been building a little buzz about it for a month or so now, mainly in our weekly newsletters but also in passing in a few of our posts and on Twitter.

Over the weekend just gone I did a bit of a preview launch on Twitter to do some testing and gather a little feedback on the product. The feedback was useful and has been really positive and we also sold 50 or so of the books which basically means that all my expenses are already covered for the book before even launching it (always a relief).

Today we’re launching with a multi pronged approach including:

  • Email to our Community – an email has just been sent out to our newsletter list
  • Post on the DPS blog – this went live about an hour ago
  • Forum Members – we’ll push out some promotions in our forums in the coming day
  • Twitter – we won’t push it too hard on Twitter as we’ve already tweeted it a few times and don’t want to go overboard but we will tweet it a bit today
  • Facebook – the DPS community on Facebook is pretty active so it’ll go live there
  • Affiliates – I have a few people signed up already to promote the ebook as affiliates (by the way if you’d like to join the affiliate program you can do so via e-junkie here).
  • ‘Favours’ – I’m pulling in a few owed favours today with some fellow bloggers and Twitter users.

In the coming week or two we’ll do a few followup promotions – particularly towards the end of the week when we end the 25% discount.

And Now We Wait…. and Adapt

Now comes the part of the process where the product is launched and I wait…. nervously wondering if anyone will buy it and if all the effort has been worthwhile? Like I say above – we’ve already pretty much broken even on the project in terms of the dollars put into it but it’d be great for it to sell well so that we can push some of the income back into DPS an keep improving the site.

Time will tell how it goes! I’ll update you in the coming week or so.

PS: Anyone want to buy a great portrait photography ebook at 25% off? ;-)

It’s been just over 12 hours since the launch of the ebook and we’ve sold another 950 of the books (total of just under 1000 sold).

There have been a few hiccups with a few people having troubles with downloads or not being able to use PayPal (you get this with almost any launch you do) but all in all it’s been a great launch.

This is the first product that I’ve personally launched on DPS so it was a bit of an unknown as to how many people would buy. 1000 sales in 24 hours is good, I’m very happy with it. Of course it’d be great for it to be higher (considering we have 250k in our email list who got the email it sometimes feels like a pretty low response) but I expect that in the week ahead we’ll see the number grow quite a bit as new promotions go out.

We’re yet to see affiliates promote it much yet so that’ll bring a kick along and I’m yet to promote it in our forum and with some banners around the site. Later in the week I’ll do a reminder (24 hours to go on the discount) type promotion email which I expect will convert well too.

Interestingly this morning I had two publishers email me to see if we’re interested in publishing the ebook as a real book – that’ll be something I’ll ponder in the coming weeks.

Other than that – at this point I’m still working on promoting the ebook to potential affiliates and other bloggers in the niche and responding to customers with downloading/payment issues.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Nothing is more inspirational than a new thought. And once you get it, its like a candle of light you cannot keep under a bushel.

  2. Hey Darren,

    I “spy” your blog for some time and like most of your previous posts this is another useful material for me. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

  3. I follow Darren on Twitter and see him flogging the ebook (and other affiliate sales I think) about once a day. Something like the new ad,ly service does but without the middleman. I also see Darren’s adverts on several blogs I visit – appears to be all over the place ;o)

  4. Good luck with the launch! Like you say, I’m sure there will be more sales in the next days so that you reach the goal you have in mind.

    When you brought on the 6 photographers for the bonus section, did you make them sign a waiver because you would be commercially profiting from their contributions?

  5. I really did well with my ebook, but I did even better when I released it in the createspace.com system as a paperback. It is part of Amazon and reaches a part of the world I could have never found on my own.
    Cheers and congrats on your next ebook.

  6. Just looked around the photography site – good blog. I will consider buying the ebook.

  7. ebook marketing is also one of the best give away and attracts the readers..

  8. Sounds like it was an over-night success! Congratulations and here is to more good sales in the future!

  9. Thanks for this post. Had never really considered writing an ebook, but it may be worth looking at in the near future. Suppose it is yet another avenue to explore to making money on the web. Good luck with it.

  10. darren thanks for sharing this piece of information. i’m in the midst of writing my very first ebook and the information which you had provided were very helpful and insightful, to me at least.

    also, your portrait photography ebook is really a good and handy read. recently i had just bought a canon 500d and is into b&w portrait photography.

    once again, thanks for sharing and i wish you success in everything you do! (^. ^ )

  11. Manish says: 12/04/2009 at 3:01 pm

    I was just wondering if your e-books are secure or password protected. How do you control piracy of your ebooks? What if your buyers circulate it to their friends?

    Also do you use any software to publish ebooks?


  12. Congratulations on a major step.

  13. i’m gonna make my own journal

  14. Ebooks are really fantastic!


  15. I hope I have the chance to read you book!


  16. $72,000 in E-Books in a Week ! Wow thats fantastic but given the massive list you run there it goes to show the numbers as a % are small.

  17. I wish i can read the book !!

  18. Thanks for this, I personally think it’s crucial for users to be able to get free content. I guess this is where your blog comes in. :) How can I subscribe?

  19. Some people balk at offering something this high but the way I look at it is that someone promoting it to their network and generating a sale is a sale I probably would never have had otherwise. So paying 40% for that… well I’ve not lost anything, in fact I’ve gained 60% of a sale PLUS have that person’s contact details for next time I sell something.

  20. Hi Darren,
    Thank you for the blow by blow description & the graph of the launch.
    It is great news.
    How on earth did you build a list of 250,000 pax?
    How long did that take?
    I’m amazed at your list size!

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