What is it? You ask. Well, Leanpub is an online platform where you can, in their words, “publish early. Publish Often.” You can even create your book on the site and using feedback from your readers, craft your book to perfection WHILE selling the book at the same time.
It’s not like Wattpad where you can post your books, rough drafts or not, and people read it for free. Leanpub has the option for you to sell your book as you write it and the price isn’t fixed either. Once you establish a minimum price, buyers can pay more for your book.
It even tells the reader how much royalties you, the author, make per sale. And in the above image, you can see that a “cause” gets a percentage of your royalties, too, if you choose to do so.
Leanpub only took 10% (I think) plus 50 cents per sale which made for a good royalty arrangement. Not good for 99 cents books, though since the 50 cents would cut into the profits right away. But then, 99 cents was never a good long-term sales strategy. It’s a perfect platform for programmers to write their books which allows them to do testing with advanced readers all while the book is being sold. So the author gets to edit as they go, and in the case of programmers, tweak their information as they went along with all the testing by fellow programmers.
So it’s no surprise when you go to their online store, the top books are primarily programming language books.
But there was a time when the founders thought it would be a good idea for romance authors and they still do. But it’s just going to take a lot of convincing especially when the big elephant in the room is hard to ignore.
However, you can still use it to sell your books if you’re wide. With Draft2Digital’s recent announcement that authors could sell their books directly from their websites and D2D would distribute them, I realized that Leanpub is perfect for that as well. I’m sure you’re thinking about piracy but it can’t be helped. There will always be people who refuse to pay for books or give authors their due. Always.
But this post isn’t about pirates, so back to Leanpub.
Up until a few months ago, it was free to set up a book and I set up a few from Loving Ashe, Loving Riley, Finding Sam, and more. These days, it costs $99 to set up a book and with it, you get a landing page and a selling platform to distribute your book. You also have the ability to have coupons if you’re having a sale, and other features like formatting your book in digital and print-ready formats.
I did that (paid $99) for my latest book, Falling for Jordan, and it was supposed to be part of my ongoing experiment with Leanpub. But after Pronoun (Falling for Jordan’s aggregator) announced on Monday that they were closing, I ended up migrating the book to Amazon and Draft2Digital while maintaining the Leanpub page the way it was.
But after a few hiccups on the wide retailers’ side and still no Falling for Jordan on their sites, I finally decided to put the book into Kindle Select, which means it’s the end of the Leanpub experiment because now I have to “retire” the book because Kindle Select (or Kindle Unlimited from the readers’ point of view) requires exclusivity with Amazon for 90 days.
Retiring a book means that you’ll still get a landing page but you won’t be selling the book. It’s good in cases like this when Falling for Jordan is in Kindle Select and once it finishes its 90 days and I un-enroll out of Select, I can un-retire the book on Leanpub and sell the book through the site again.
It would have been an exciting experiment, especially in light of Draft2Digital’s announcement that you can sell books through their site. I thought about doing that but then I realized that I have Leanpub for that. So my experiment isn’t a but—yet. I still have Finding Sam which will remain on Leanpub forever. I even made a few sales this month and the readers paid the full price of $5.99 for the book even when there was an option for $3.99!
I actually like Leanpub very much. I liked it three years ago when I first learned about it, and I like it now even if I only have one book for sale through the site (the others are either retired or not yet published) and the only way people can find it is through my own links.
But that’s okay. I’m in this for the long haul anyway.
I just hope they won’t close anytime soon.