"In your darkest, most frustrated hours, remember the value you are trying to add to peoples’ lives, the satisfaction you’ll feel, or the cause that you’ll further. The path to a finished book is not a smooth or a straight line, but the end result will make you forget the pain."
Most meaningful creations are born of frustration. APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is no exception.
Entrepreneur, author, and visionary Guy Kawasaki was pissed. A large company wanted to buy five hundred copies of his acclaimed book Enchantment. Much to everyone’s dismay, his traditional publisher COULD NOT FILL THE ORDERS. Yikes. After some rigamarole, the orders were eventually fulfilled. But it wasn’t pretty.
(My first thought: Can’t you just bang out five-hundred happy little copy-pastes of the ebook and send them on their merry way? I guess this is not an actual solution.)
Long story short, Guy decided to self-publish his next book — and what better subject than self-publishing itself. APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur — How to Publish a Book (affiliate) is a relevant and comprehensive how-to guide on writing, publishing, and promoting a book.
Author Profile: Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki is a legend among techies and entrepreneurs. He worked in Apple’s marketing department in the ’80s before leaving to start his own tech company, and eventually founded venture capital firm Garage Technology Ventures. He’s written over ten books, two of the most notable being The Art of the Start (affiliate) and Enchantment (affiliate).
Who Should Read This
- Any published authors frustrated by the state of the publishing industry and want more control over their next project.
- Any aspiring authors wanting to gain the know-how to build a platform, publish a book, and promote their work.
- Anyone in the publishing industry (your industry is rapidly changing).
- Anyone helping to publish or promote someone else’s book.
- Anyone who thinks they “have a book or two in them.”
How This Resonates With Me (with quotes from APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur)
I picked up this book for three reasons:
1. I’m helping my friend and author Stephen Markley publish and market his next book about our trip through Iceland.
2. I have aspirations of writing and publishing books of my own.
3. I’m a complete novice when it comes to #1 and #2.
So my take-aways are coming from someone who wants to absorb as much about this industry in the shortest time possible, is willing to hustle, and is diving in head-first with a beginner’s mind.
1. The publishing industry is experiencing a revolution.
Guy is a strong proponent for self-publishing and ebooks, but he gives a very unbiased pro/con analysis of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing and ebooks vs. physical books. Moral of the story: there’s no clear-cut winner. Ebooks and indie author are changing the game while the clunky, old traditional publishers fight tooth and nail to hang onto the world they once knew. Vive la révolution!
For example, while ebooks are experiencing incredible growth, they make up only 10 percent of all publishing revenue — physical books still make up the vast majority. Still, ebooks aren’t going anywhere. The internet is democratizing book publishing, much like it has democratized everything else.
And there’s an additional challenge for us the readers: there’ll be a LOT more options to choose from. Readers will need to become better at filtering quality from noise. This is where recommendations from friends come into play (i.e. social media).
"While printed books may never die...we’re not going back to a time when there are no ebooks."
2. Don’t let money be the driver.
"In my book (pun intended), a book should be an end, not a means to an end. Even if no one reads your book, you can write it for the sake of writing it."
In Guy’s opinion, there are a only a handful of reasons to write a book:
- To add value to people’s lives.
- To master a new skill.
- To evangelize a cause.
- To write for yourself.
Notice how money is not included in any of these. Like most things in life, the concept of making money is an important factor in making a living, but it shouldn’t be the driving force behind a book’s creation.
"A more realistic and healthier approach is to believe that making money is a possible outcome, but not the purpose, of writing a great book. May you be so fortunate as to experience both."
3. Writing and publishing a book is a bitch. (And even if it gets published, it’s still a bitch.)
I’ll be honest, I had simplistic, grandiose visions of writing a book about my journey through Europe and having it published. Then APE put my ass in check.
Guy shared this hilarious and brilliantly insightful video which depicts some naive ass-clown candy-coating the entire process of writing and publishing a book:
Even if you write a book and are fortunate enough to have it published, Guy duly notes:
"The relationship between author and publicist is usually the most contentious one in publishing because no author has been happy with his publicist in the history of mankind."
Having your book published doesn’t mean you’ve “made it.” You’ll still need to hustle your balls off to promote it.
I still want to write a book and tell the full story of my journey, but my expectations are much more realistic now.
4. Don’t give up.
"First, rejection doesn’t necessarily mean your book isn’t good. Second, rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up. Third, you may have more than one book in you, so you can use each book to build your customer base and get closer to success."
Guy lists a handful of authors who were once rejected by publishers — Stephen King, George Orwell, John Grisham, Jack Kerouac. Heard of ’em?
If you feel compelled to write a book, do it. Maybe it gets published, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the purpose of writing it isn’t to be published. Maybe there’s some other reason. Maybe it gets you closer to the book you were meant to write that is meant to be published. The good news is that the buck doesn’t stop here — we live in a world where self-publishing is an actual option. An ebook can be available for purchase on Amazon within hours of its upload, and a printed book can make it to your doorstep within a matter of days.
I’ll also use this statement to make a bigger point — I think way too often we view rejection as permanent defeat, whether it’s writing, applying for a job, or getting a girl/guy. I’m constantly challenging myself to remember this because it’s so easy to forget. The fear of rejection is a big reason I filmed Being Bold in Zadar, Croatia. I knew I’d be rejected more than not. I realized I needed to become comfortable with rejection so it wouldn’t paralyze me from taking action.
5. Be prepared to get your hands dirty with self-publishing.
APE is filled with very specific and tactical advice, like:
- Use Microsoft Word to write the book (or alternatives like OpenOffice Writer, Scrivener, or Apple’s Pages)
- You’ll need to create multiple file types of your book depending on where you choose to sell it (Amazon Kindle uses MOBI; Apple iBookstore and Barnes & Noble use EPUB), yet none of them will deliver your book exactly like on your Word document.
- “Use a 10-point font with a 1.5 (or 15-point) line spacing.”
- How and when to register an ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
- Watch out for widows, orphans, and dumb dashes (huh? my thoughts exactly).
Be ready to get your hands dirty with self-publishing. If this stuff makes your head and heart hurt and you want to just focus on your craft of writing, hire a friend to help you (like me!).
6. Self-Publishing is like a choose-your-own-adventure book.
Depending on how hands-on you’re willing to get with your book, there are a gazillion services there to help you. You can pick and choose your own destiny.
- Want to sell your book as an ebook, but don’t want to deal with all the platforms individually (Amazon, iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, etc.)? An author-service company like BookBaby or Lulu can help.
- Want to just sell PDFs on your own website? Try Gumroad or E-Junkie.
- Want to sell physical books through Amazon? CreateSpace or Lightning Source got you covered.
7. The smartest writers are entrepreneurs.
"Entrepreneuring is the most neglected and hardest of APE’s three roles because it involves marketing and sales, which are foreign concepts to some authors and despised by the rest."
This is the reason I want to help my buddy Steve. Most artists, writers, and other creatives I know have a hard time selling and marketing themselves. They want to work on their craft and create stuff. It’s understandable. That’s what they’re good at.
To succeed as an author in the brave new world of self-publishing you have two options: 1) hustle and market your own book, 2) “hire” a friend or someone else to help you hustle.
Guy suggests guerrilla-marketing tactics like offering your book for free in exchange for reviews, optimizing your title for Amazon and Google, and reaching out to top reviewers on Amazon.
There are a bunch of gems in the ‘Entrepreneur’ section of this book, and I plan to use many of them as we promote and market the Iceland book. The goal of guerrilla marketing is maximize marketing muscle with the least amount of money possible.
"[T]he quality of your book and the quantity of your moxie are more important than the amount of money you’ve spent."
Want to dive deeper? APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur -- How to Publish a Book is available on Amazon (affiliate).