Notes to self

Marketing my book to 1000 sales

Here’s a simple list of what I was doing on my way to 1000 sales of my book and how much success I had with them.

My blog (success)

My programming blog I am writing for a long time was probably the best source of traffic for my book (and the only consistent one). I haven’t really increased the number of my posts during this time and I haven’t even published much lately, but I still consistently get just under 5000/uv a month. It’s not much but it’s something.

Twitter (success)

I had very small audience when I started, practically nothing. But while I was writing I increased my Twitter presence and I’ll soon cross 2000 followers on Twitter. It’s really hard to say if I just have my Twitter followers because of my book or more sales because of my Twitter. Since I don’t really use any other social media I want to double down on Twitter.

Hacker News (success)

Hacker News was my biggest media success by far. It was likely the best fit for my book. I did a SHOW HN that got 326 points and generated 100 sales in a day (my highest earning month ever). I then tried to recreate this success with two more posts. First I wrote about tools I used to write my book which got 150 upvotes, and then later also published my breakdown of 1 year of sales which even got 356 upvotes.

Links to successful posts:

Reddit (flop)

I haven’t have any big success on Reddit. The best results were in the Ruby subreddit which gave me encouragement to start and also lots of upvotes at launch (70+). This never directly correlated with sales, but still likely helped the brand. The rest of Reddit was mostly a miss. I sometimes tried to provide a helpful comment and link my book in the hope of increasing awareness.

Product Hunt (flop)

I knew Product Hunt is not my audience and I wasn’t interested in playing the rigged game of spamming people hard for upvotes. So I waited for 800 sales and then tried to at least get a backlink from there. I got 30+ upvotes which I am actually happy about.

Indie Hackers (flop)

I haven’t had any real success in Indie Hackers. No post would get at least ten upvotes. Nevertheless I posted important product updates so you can see the book’s timeline on Indie Hackers if you are interested. The book got only 11 followers in all those years.

Podcasts (success)

I appeared on two podcasts. The first one I got really lucky Jeremy Jung invited me to Software Engineering Radio even before the final release. And most importantly he did that on his own simply because he liked the alpha version. Later on I was also invited by Jason Swett to his Code with Jason podcast. After this success I tried to pitch myself to one more podcast, but failed.

Affiliates (flop)

I wasn’t super lucky with affiliates but I tried to find them. I signed up 9 people as affiliates in total, but only the last one helped me sell a few copies. Please reach out if you want to give it a go.


Beyond writing for my blog I haven’t done any actual SEO at all. However I feel I came to the end of my personal reach and so the next steps will be SEO, SEO, and SEO. I started by creating separate pages for each chapter, and I’ll expand from there.

by Josef Strzibny