Sathyanand is one of my first Twitter friends. We connected back in January 2021.
Since he’s also a prolific writer and visual creator, I thought it would be cool to have him in Coffee & Pens for the tenth edition. We talked about his first book, The Yellow Visuals and his recently released second one, Sathya’s Sketchnotes. Read this interview if you need insights around inspiration, pre-sales and design.
From daily habit to ebook
“Writing, or should I say designing, and publishing a book was more of an accident”, Sathya says.
It all started when he joined the Daily Visual Community by Craig Burgess on 23 November 2020.
On that day, he created his first visual and he’s made one per day ever since. Some days even more.
And after more than three months of designing visuals, he decided to compile them in one place for easy reference and browsing. That’s when someone gave him the idea to turn his visuals into an ebook. (Similar to Arvid’s compendium).
Before Sathya started creating his book, though, he followed the advice of some mentors: test if there’s demand. They said he should aim for ten pre-orders, and if he gets to that number or more, he should go for it.
Since he easily crossed ten pre-orders in just a couple of days, there clearly was a demand, so the only thing left to do was selecting and compiling the best 100 visuals into an ebook.
The Yellow Visuals was released on April 14, 2021.
No one without two.
After the success of The Yellow Visuals, selling 200 copies, Sathya decided it was time for something new. He rebranded and changed his trademark yellow colour. He also started experimenting with other types of visuals such as sketch notes.
This time around, the publishing process was a lot easier.
Unlike the first book, he didn’t need a lot of edits and formatting. Testing the water wasn’t as important either, since he had already successfully launched an ebook.
And it seems like there will soon be a third book. Sathya is now creating art with Canva and teaching how to make beautiful Digital Arts. This has got the attention of Canva as well as other big companies.
Marketing and sales
The main channels Sathya used to promote his books are his email list and Twitter connections.
He’s been consistently writing a newsletter for almost 1.5 years now. That equals 64 editions at the time of publishing. In the process, his audience has grown from eight subscribers to over eight hundred!
After each launch, he DM-ed his Twitter friends to buy and promote his books. Their shoutouts have been very helpful. In total, both strategies have generated more than 300 sales.
And there’s one more trick: collaborations.
Sathya collaborates with other creatives to increase visibility. You may have seen his visuals in some of the other Coffee & Pens interviews, for example.
To create one visual per day, you need an ocean of ideas. That’s why he spends quite some time exploring and selecting ideas. He picks up quotes from creative people, philosophy and viral tweets.
Sharing and creating visuals is his way of learning and giving back. In analogy with Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova, who sees herself as “a reader who happens to write”, Sathya sees himself as “a learner who happens to create”.
He thinks of it as playing with a permissionless apprenticeship of sorts. He learns from interesting people on Twitter and when they like or retweet his visual, it accelerates his audience growth and boosts his visibility.
His biggest inspirations are
- VisualizeValue by Jack Butcher. Jack has been a prime example for him and many others who started their visualizing journey. Sathya watched almost all his podcast interviews and studied his visuals to understand and learn how he uniquely visualizes quotes and content in such a simple way.
- The Daily Visual Community started by Craig Burgess. Sathya learnt the nitty-gritty of creating a personal brand, designing visuals and building a consistent routine from Craig.
- The Sketchnoting community with creators like Mike Rhode, Eva Lotta-Lamm, Tanmay Vora and many others. This is where he learned to turn long-form content like book summaries, TED talks and articles into hand-drawn visuals.
Writing tips and more
Journaling and freewriting are vital parts of his creative process. For his daily writing, he just uses a simple notebook and pen to explore and capture his thoughts. He rarely uses what he writes for content generation, but it helps to clarify his thoughts, brain dump ideas, clear his mind and navigate life with a little more direction and purpose.
Some tips for new designers
- Start with easy-to-use tools, such as Canva, Visme or even Powerpoint. Anyone can design visuals with these.
- Leverage Twitter to earn money rather than grow an audience for the sake of it.
- Make others look good via your content.
Book launching tips
- An ebook is the easiest way to make money via an info product if you’re just getting started.
- Gumroad is easy to use to sell your book.
- Organise a pre-sale to test the market and validate if there’s demand.
And his secret for writing, designing and publishing: try and experiment.
What publishing his books means to Sathya
While Sathya considers the global sales of his first book relatively small, he still considers it as a big win for himself. In just six months, he went from completely unknown, to Twitter creator with a comfortable second income.
And if you’re a big fan of his books The Yellow Visuals and Sathya’s Sketchnotes, and would like to see them on your living room table one day, you’re not alone.
Some other people, and me, have asked for it too. So if we’re lucky, maybe one day, there may be print on demand books by Sathyanand.