Today I’ve got a real treat for you.
Guy Kawasaki, legendary Apple evangelist, best-selling author, serial entrepreneur and social media mega-star has just published his 12th book—and the second he’s self-published. It’s all about how to use the tools we have available to write, publish, and market our own books.
Kawasaki joins a long line of authors who got into self-publishing for one reason or another, only to find out just how complex and frustrating it can be to create a seemingly simple and pedestrian object, and then written his own book to help other authors trying to do the same thing.
I guess this lineage goes back at least to Dan Poynter and the birth of The Self-Publishing Manual, but there have been many to travel this same road since then.
“People with their own platforms can write and create high quality books, self-publishing them and succeed.”—Guy Kawasaki
Here’s the good news: Kawasaki’s book is certainly the best self-publishing book to come out in years. In fact, there is no other book I know of that captures the moment we are in so well, and communicates so much actionable, practical information that any author can use.
I include all of you who have already published your own books, too.
More on that in a moment.
APE, the Book
The title of Kawasaki’s book tells us quite a bit about his approach: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book.
(Astute readers will remember the article that appeared here called From Writer to Author to Publisher to Marketer that outlines a similar evolution.)
This is the reality of self-publishing today. Success will often depend on you taking on each of these roles and finding a way to succeed in each.
Kawasaki calls this “artisanal publishing” and it forms part of our conversation in the audio interview that accompanies today’s post.
Following the title, the book is divided into three sections, each of which deals with one of these roles.
The author explains his method for creating the book, including a unique way of involving his “5,000,000″ followers in the process. (I liked this so much I’m thinking of trying it with my next book!)
“Guy Kawasaki has 5,000,000 followers, I understand that not many people have 5,000,000 followers. But I wasn’t born with 5,000,000 followers, it took me 30 years, so it can be done. It’s because you’re helpful, you’re a curator, you add value, you’re not a pain in the ass.”—Guy Kawasaki
The Author and Entrepreneur sections of the book are the strongest, but authors who are mainly interested in publishing ebooks are very well taken care of in the Publisher section. Resources, explanations of how to go about converting and uploading your files, and lots of best practices are covered.
Guy Kawasaki really knows how to create compelling content, and the book is rich with tricks, tips, hints on what to do or not to do, and a lot of technical information contributed by coauthor Shawn Welch. He’s constantly upbeat, and uses stories quite well to make a point.
One of the reasons I recommend this book, even to experienced self-publishers, is for the outstanding primer on social media engagement that makes up most of the Entrepreneur section. It’s by far the best and most concise exposition on this subject I’ve ever read.
Disagreements and Omissions
The weakest part of APE is the Publisher section, and part of the reason for that is the almost complete lack of information on publishing print books. The authors deal with print on demand, but have nothing to say about offset books.
There is also no discussion of the crucial role of metadata, and little on keyword research. There’s nothing regarding print book distribution outside the print on demand mechanism, and a very weak section on discounting, another critical area for self-publishers to understand.
I also found it odd, because the authors are social media denizens, that there was little mention of the many blogs that cover the self-publishing world, and where thousands of indie authors go for information, advice, encouragement and training and I hope they will correct that omission in future editions.
In fact, Guy told me during the interview he plans to continue to edit and add to the book, updating it as new information comes in. In the interview you’ll hear us talk about a new section on developmental editing, also.
I highly recommend you get a copy of this book. And although it’s available in paperback, you need to get the Kindle version. The PDF I reviewed is full of very useful and up to date links. In fact, there are so many great links in this book, it’s easily worth the purchase price just to get them.
But APE is a great addition to the literature on self-publishing, and is destined to become the new “bible” of indie publishing for a new generation. The book is intimately connected to online culture, not only because it has such wisdom to impart on social media marketing, brand development, and interactive relationships, but because the book itself arose from the same soil.
And Guy is pretty funny, too. How can you go wrong?
I also recommend you visit the book’s website here: APE the book. You can check out the completely charming book trailer, and see the results of adeptly marketing your book to a following of 5 million people. Make sure you scroll all the way down the page.
Here’s the audio of my interview with Guy. It runs 32:36. I look forward to your comments.
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