Addressing mistakes I made in releasing Hacking Happy

When I released Hacking Happy two weeks ago, I made a rather serious mistake. It’s the first time I’ve self-published in eBook format. I put a lot of effort into thinking through the release and marketing of the book, but one problem slipped through.

I believe that when you purchase a digital product, you are purchasing the content, not the format. I released Hacking Happy as an eBook in four different formats, each available for download at a minimum purchase price of $5. This was the easiest way to make the book available on Gumroad, and I didn’t think about it much. I thought it would look good on the home page to have links to several different formats! However, I didn’t consider that someone may want copies of the book in two different formats. There are various reasons they may want to do this, and I do not believe they should have to pay full price for each of the different formats when they are essentially getting the same content.

Therefore, I have now made Hacking Happy available as a zip file of all four formats, in addition to the other download links. It is the same minimum price as the other links. However, this didn’t help anyone who had already supported me in buying the book in a single format. Luckily, Gumroad allows me to e-mail my buyers and I was able to supply them with a private link to the zipfile if they wish to access other formats.

Of course, since you own the content you purchased, you are welcome to convert it to other formats as you see fit!

The other issue people raised had more to do with marketing than the book itself. Part of the discussion on Hacker News pointed out that the excerpt didn’t really say much about what was in the book. I have alleviated this by adding a table of contents to the excerpt link on the home page and by choosing an excerpt from a chapter other than the introduction. I believe the chosen excerpt is representative of the contents of the book, and also highlights my writing style.

The response to this book has been very humbling. Other than complaints from people who chose not to purchase it, the feedback has been entirely positive. It has received one five star review on Amazon and I have received e-mails of support, congratulations, and gratitude. I knew when I wrote the book that it was necessary and would fill a niche, and I knew when I published it that I had done a good job. But the feedback reinforcing that knowledge has brought me as much happiness as the process of writing the book did!

3 Comments

  1. David Gómez says:

    What about the people who bought it through Amazon for their Kindle, like me?

    • Dusty Phillips says:

      Unfortunately, because of Amazon’s closed ecosystem, I’m reluctant to open that can of worms. I don’t have access to the e-mail addresses of Kindle purchasers, so it’s impossible to contact them and keep the process streamlined.

      If someone is purchasing through the Kindle store, I figure they are used to the environment Amazon has created. They are paying for the other services Kindle offers — such as cloud storage of your library — as well as the content. Further, Amazon takes a much heftier royalty than Gumroad, so I place the responsibility of keeping customers happy firmly in their hands!

      That said, I did explicitly disable DRM when I uploaded Hacking Happy to the Kindle store to make it as easy as possible for users to access the content they purchased.

      • You are right about the Cloud Reader, virtually we can read the book wherever we want. But, as you should know, kindle users never own the books they buy, and that bothers me a lot.

        Anyway, thank you for your answer Dusty and good luck with your sells.