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APE – Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch [Book Review]

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Stay Akamai:

It’s a natural step for bloggers to consider publishing; self publishing books is easier than ever before. And yet. That doesn’t mean the process is easy. If only..there were a single resource written by people who have been through the process. People who could provide you the details of how to self-publish. And that is why I jumped at the chance to get my hands on an early review copy of APE-Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. As a young writer, actually publishing a book seemed like a pipe-dream, particularly given the fact that I also always dreamed of eating and having shelter. But given my dream to one day be published, I agreed to write a review of my experience of the book in exchange for a free PDF copy of the book.

From Blogger to Author?

I’ve considered several books over the years. Some for this blog, some for my poor, sadly neglected foodie blog What We Chow and now, as my alter-ego pursues collaborative writing on Dirty Girl’s Kitchen (be warned, it’s truly for the unapologetic profane gal or guy) I seek another book opportunity. But, as kick-butt as self-publishing is, writing a blog is one thing, writing a book is another.

I’ve said many times that having a blog is a brutal task-master. A blog is a living, breathing entity, with a living, breathing audience. Writing a book is no-less a task master, just a different one from marketing to distribution And. Let’s face it. Reader expectations are different too. As a blogger, my audience will forgive the occasional typo, not so in a book. See, blogs are generally free but people purchase books and whether the price point is .99 or 4.99, the reader will expect an error-free manuscript. Guy Kawasaki says that after having 75 people review the manuscript of APE, multiple readings by the authors themselves, the copyeditor found 1,500 errors, this was after Guy’s community had already provided feedback and content suggestions. Talk about humbling.

What does it cover?

APE covers everything from crowd-sourcing editing to determining what your book’s price point should be. The book is chock full of resources for the writer, whether she’s written a blog or not. And for those of us who rarely do anything in print anymore, you’ll love the fact that all the links and resources are clickable links within the book as well as on the website. There are suggestions that are still considerably important even when e-publishing. Then there are moments where Kawasaki literally says “tradition be damned” and provides insight into why breaking the rules when e-publishing is important. Kawasaki brilliantly meshes the traditions of book publishing with the practicalities of e-publishing.

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I appreciate that the book moves through the steps of self publishing in a logical way, but I still recommend reading it in its entirety before ever typing a single word. After reading the book, I can how some knowledge upfront will save hours later on. And given that writing a book is almost always an act of love (rather than money) saving time and being efficient are important.

The Social Role in Self Publishing

Many writers might think the only role for social media is in the marketing and promotional phase. But throughout the book, Kawasaki provides examples of how his social community made the book better, during each phase.

From crowdsourcing feedback to yes, marketing, the Kawasaki discusses how to leverage an active social community. Kawasaki also covers ways to mobilize communities such as KickStarter and IndieGoGo. While Kawasaki didn’t use these methods himself, he provides some examples of those who did. The authors of APE also continually underscore the need for feedback, which is very consistent with blogging. In the marketing world, we essentially do this through focus groups. But few writers have access to actual focus groups.

Practical Advice

Kawasaki provides several different ways to incorporate community feedback while writing your book. His approach to feedback from readers is very consistent with social media ethos, he invites it and acts on it. Perhaps this is one reason why his books have been so successful. Or maybe its because he already had a large social media audience before he ever wrote a single book. I do wish Kawasaki would acknowledge this fact – the time to build community is well before you need them. This goes for businesses and writers.

I’ve found myself referring, highlighting and returning to the book frequently. All in all, if you’ve ever thought that writing a book was in your future, I’d say 2013 is the time to grab that bull by the horn, and start with reading APE. I think you’ll find it well worth your time and chock full of practical, easy to read advice. I’m sure there is no perfect path to self publishing, but I know this will be a resource that I enjoy having in my treasure chest.

If you’re looking for a copy yourself, here’s how to get one:

  • Name: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book (ISBN 978-0-9885231-1-1)
  • Ship date: 12/10/12
  • Price: $9.99 Kindle ebook (affiliate link)
  • Website: http://apethebook.com/

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