The Creation and Growth of a Startup, and the Crazy Path it has Taken

This is the story of eBooksHabit.com. My name is R.J. and I run eBooks Habit. It has grown to become a popular place for authors to promote their books, and for readers to find free and bargain books each day. I am going to share the story of how eBooks Habit came to be, the path it has taken, and where I hope to take eBooks Habit in the future.

The Beginning

The reason I started eBooks Habit was selfish… I wanted a place to promote my own books. I created several nonfiction books and published them on Kindle. I then needed places to promote my books, but many of the established free ebook websites didn’t promote nonfiction books, or their promotion of them was few and far between. Plus, by being one of the gatekeepers, I wasn’t going to have to pay or hope to be featured, I could guarantee that my book would be featured.

Another benefit of launching such a site was to make money, of course, by selling placements, the Amazon Associates affiliate program, and other things here or there that might come up.

I put together some basic pages such as an about page, contact page, and a page for authors to submit their books and pay for promotions, and I launched eBooks Habit in August of 2012. I ran a Kindle Fire giveaway which jumpstarted my readers mailing list and got the site running.

I did a lot of heavy lifting, contacting every site that listed my competitors, letting them know that readers can find free ebooks at my site, and that authors can submit their free ebooks at my site. (Authors use short term free promotions to boost visibility of their books and increase their rankings in Amazon.)

Money was coming in, readers were joining my list to get our daily free ebooks, and I was able to promote my own books occasionally. My initial plan was just to keep doing that, earn a few hundred dollars a month, and have a nice little side business.

Then came the list…

The Mailing List

The core of my business was building the reader list, so that I had readers to promote the books to, or so I thought. While the readers were definitely necessary, that wasn’t the list that was going to transform my business.

Every time an author submitted a book to my site, I required them to include their email as part of the submission (initially, in case there were any errors). As time went on, I realized that I had this large list of emails for authors who had interacted with my services in one way or another. This was a gold mine! I could begin to remind people to use my service, I could connect with them in other ways, and most importantly, I could promote new services and tools as I created them.

New Tools and Services

My core business had a limited scope. I only had so many spots for free books to be featured, so that was limited income earning potential, so I decided to create additional services and tools to promote to this new audience.

Additional services and tools were definitely not in the plans when I started eBooks Habit but over time, they have become the main income source, and a way to make money from the same authors that I have connected with and serviced using my core product.

Here are some of the services and tools I have created:

Free eBook Submission Service — There are many other sites like mine, and authors want to submit to as many as they can to maximize the exposure for their books. Unfortunately, this takes A LOT of time. I had developed a system using browser shortcuts and more to significantly speed up the process. This helped me to boost my income a bit, but the time it took for me to do it, plus the price I needed to charge, and the low usage of the service comparatively caused me to eventually shut it down, but I did make some money along the way.

BookShow.me— The internet is a worldwide marketplace. Amazon has many different locales and due to the nature of ebooks, authors can easily offer their books to many of the worldwide Amazon marketplaces. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to send worldwide readers to their specific location, so many authors just link to the book on Amazon.com (and sometimes .ca and .co.uk). I created BookShow.me to allow authors to create free worldwide redirecting links, based on the user’s location. By offering upgrade packages to allow custom URLs and more, I created an income stream from this site as well.

eBooks Habit Hooks — I thought it would be great for authors to have a way to share an excerpt of their book, in a great and appealing way. I created Hooks, a nice looking blog that allowed authors to showcase those excerpts, with calls to action at the end to buy the book. Unfortunately, it didn’t take off like I had hoped.

BookTweeters.com — I learned how to quickly grow my Twitter account for eBooks Habit, so I created several other accounts that were similar in scope (targeting readers). As these grew, I created the backend of the site that would allow me to create daily Twitter promotions, that allowed me to tweet about authors books all day long. This project has completely eclipsed the core eBooks Habit business and earnings from all of the other eBooks Habit related side projects combined. It continues to earn well above and beyond my wildest expectations and goals.

All of these tools and services had instant audiences due to my ever-growing mailing list of authors. It’s been a fantastic way to grow my business each time I come out with a new product.

What I Have Learned

It’s been a wild and crazy road so far and I feel like I am only just beginning. My initial visions for eBooks Habit were so small, so self-serving. I did not see the HUGE opportunities I would be able to create for myself and for other authors.

Don’t stick to one idea. Be willing to pivot, change, and transform your business. While you definitely want to stay true to your core focus, do not set everything in stone.

Build your list and more importantly, build the right list. Examine the true audience for your site and make sure you are doing everything you can to get them on the list. Then, make sure you are using the list to create more business for yourself.

Don’t stop innovating. If you stay stagnant so will your earnings. Continue to innovate whether that is new features of your existing product or brand new products for the existing audience.

The Future of eBooks Habit

Where are we going from here?

We will continue to create new products that appeal to our audience.

We will continue grow our team as we are able to.

We will continue to find new and exiting ways to add to readers to our list, readers who want free and bargain books.

We will begin to add content marketing to our existing marketing strategies to engage with a whole new world of people here on Medium.

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Thanks so much for reading the story of eBooksHabit.com!

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  • R.J. Adams — Owner of eBooksHabit.com
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