Notes to self

How I wrote Kamal Handbook in 5 weeks and sold 300+ copies at the same time

I unexpectedly wrote a second book. And I unexpectedly sold 300 copies while making it.


The idea of Kamal Handbook came after spending more time deploying with the tool and seeing my Kamal blog post trending.

But the thing was I didn’t want to write another book. And in fact, the main selling point of Deployment from Scratch was that it didn’t focus an any particular deploy tool.

Kamal changed this perspective for two reasons. I genuinely liked the tool and I could be the first author to publish something on Kamal. I wouldn’t do it if such a book existed.

So I conviced myself that if I can do this in ~ 5 weeks, I should.


The biggest change from my last book was giving myself a short window to finish. This was rather a necessity because I didn’t have more time.

I had to return to my other projects and responsibilities.

But I knew this was possible because:

  • I already figured out a lof of the configuration from running Kamal
  • I already published 2 blog posts on the topic
  • I didn’t have a full-time job

I was also more experienced in everything from writing to selling because of my first book. I skipped many things I did for my first book and went straigh to creating.

I decided to write the whole book in a single document without splitting it to chapter pages. This and the deadline helped me to keep the book short. 94 pages long in the end.


This time around I skipped creating a landing page, a mailing list, or a cover. I went to create a Gumroad page with a temporary logo and tweet that I am preselling.

I presold 30 copies on the first day and 42 the following one. A bigger audience of ~ 2900 followers and being on a trend of a new tool certainly helped me big time.

You see, my first book is on a timeless topic, something every web dev should go through at some point. That’s great, but it misses the pressure to buy in the moment.

Kamal Handbook is about what people are talking and figuring out right now. About the present. And that’s powerful.

I presold 165 copies in the end before the launch day by tweeting the progress I am making.


The launch happened again on Twitter. I sold 39 copies and around 100 the days that followed. Since I was moving fast, I skipped some things I usually do.

I did finished up the website, but I haven’t even put a tracking code on it, so I don’t know how many people were there around the launch or what the conversion rate is.

I was also happy that I managed to get some good feedback from early readers. I haven’t skipped this part despite all the rush. If you are writing something, always get draft feedback.

I also got a lovely foreword by Donal McBreen just in time for the launch. This was completely unplanned, but once I got an email from him I kindly asked him for this favour.

The timing was perfect, all came together at the right time. I felt the momentum and released just before Easter to have a well-deserved rest after this sprint.

I reached 300 copies sold some days after the launch.


The main marketing was without a doubt my Twitter account. I haven’t even wrote a blog post about the book this time around, I just went straigh to writing.

Before launching I posted to a Rails subreddit and did an announcement in partnership with Short Ruby Newsletter to gain some more traction and momentum.

After the launch, I also posted to 3 more subreddits and appeared in Ruby Weekly. None of that move the needle by much as most of the sales already happened.


I had a blast making this book. I sold 360+ copies in total and got 7 five-star reviews to date.

I am a serial author now I guess as I have 2 books to my name.

Work with me

I have some availability for contract work. I can be your fractional CTO, a Ruby on Rails engineer, or consultant. Write me at