- Paperback: 410 pages
- Publisher: Nononina Press; 1 edition (December 10, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0988523108
- ISBN-13: 978-0988523104
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,030 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book 1st Edition
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I like that he's promised to continually update APE. I like his commitment to quality; the book reads well and the copy is clean. His books sure go down easy -- a mixture of a little unique information, tons of generalities, a lot of platitudes and a healthy shot of "you can do it!" attitude simmering right beneath the surface.
The problem, then? He's out of touch. Kawasaki produces a nice book. But it's written from where he's sitting. This is a man who has published numerous bestsellers, has over a million Twitter followers, has given a TED talk and enjoys lucrative speaking engagements at top-tier companies and universities. All of this is impressive.
That's not where most self-published authors are coming from, though.
The first few chapters are spent on throat clearing and general padding such as:
Should You Write a Book?
-->Not a bad question to ask, but seems out of place given the audience -- most people who pick this up have probably already started and want help on the back-end production process.
A Review of Traditional Publishing
An Introduction to Self-Publishing
--> Both of these rudimentary, stripped down publishing histories pale in comparison to what's offered on Wikipedia. More to the point: they are totally unnecessary.
Tools -- wherein he states you need a computer and a word processor. This takes about six or seven pages. Seriously. But he does take care to plug Evernote, a company he advises for. Nice.
How to Finance Your Book -- he talks about Kickstarter and how Seth Godin raised a ludicrous amount of money on it, financing his own release many times over.
Seth Godin has one of the most trafficked blogs in the world. No one is going to fund an unknown indie author's Kickstarter. Unless that author gets absurdly lucky and catches lightning in a bottle.
I wouldn't hold your breath for such miracles.
Some might applaud Kawasaki for starting slow. I don't mind the beginner's overview -- but if you don't know that you need a computer to self-publish an eBook, then you're probably not cut out for this business. The first 10 chapters could be condensed into one. As it stands, it takes about 30 minutes of reading until you'll hit anything you can even apply. Which is the cover section.
At this point, he suggest crowd-sourcing along with a few designers he's used. This is fine, but he totally misses out on Fiverr, eLance [e.g. low cost, decent quality options] or various well-known indie freelancers like Damonza (who is expensive, but seems downright cheap compared to some of Kawasaki's recommendations).
Which is, really, the problem: he gives basically no useful advice on how to promote your book, and suggests that you need to spend thousands to create a professional product. You don't.
APE sells based on his name recognition and his ridiculously large email/Twitter followings. It was basically a guaranteed money-maker for him, unless he went ape (geddit?) and spent a hundred grand. Kawasaki has no idea how to bootstrap a pro indie book, because he didn't have to (ironic, given The Art of the Start's emphasis on this). He didn't have to sit down, as an unknown author, and figure out how to get noticed on Amazon, B&N, Kobo et al.
He hasn't achieved his success in self-publishing. He hasn't lived the hard slog -- all the days seeing your book sell 0 copies and flounder on the Amazon ranks. Firing off countless emails to tiny blogs and getting zero responses. Anyone would be hard-pressed to muck up a book release if they had Kawasaki's extended network. Hats off to him for building his brand, but HE DIDN'T DO IT VIA HIS SELF-PUBLISHING CAREER.
Most of the people reading this, however, will be looking to build an indie career. He's never done it -- therefore he can't tell you how to do it. It's very much akin to a famous children's book author writing a book on how to write slasher screenplays...when their screenplay only got greenlit because of their brand. Their success wasn't because of that work, but of something they did in the past. Yeah, Kawasaki's a writer. Yeah, he's a good businessman. But he doesn't know jack about the intricacies and specifics of the indie game.
To be clear, this book doesn't suffer because of his previous successes. The value of the information only suffers because he didn't spend the time to get dirty and see how the people doing this for a living went about it. I'd say Kawasaki missed a golden opportunity -- had he coupled his unparalleled business experience with a solid, realistic plan for unknown authors (perhaps culled from the numerous blogs, books and other resources available -- or interviewing these folks), APE could have been an incredible book.
Instead, he lives in a land where resources are seemingly unlimited and time is of no consequence (although it frees up a lot of time when you can get your followers to beta-read and edit your books at no cost). During the course of APE, Kawasaki recommends you purchase a MacBook Air to write on (although he admits this isn't a necessity), learn Adobe InDesign to format your books, shell out money for a good editor, offer autographed dust jacket covers and produce a useful infographic to advertise your book.
The approximate costs:
MacBook Air - $914
InDesign CS6 - $20 a month or $640
Editor - $500 - $5,000
Autographed Covers - $2/ea; a lot of self-published books don't even see a print release, let alone a hardcover
Infographic - $1500 (this is according to him; go to eLance for much, much cheaper ones)
At this point we're up to two thousand nine hundred thirty six dollars in costs, and we haven't included the cover -- perhaps the most crucial element of the book.
You can release a book on Kindle and other platforms for about five bucks with a decent cover from Fiverr. Even if you get a quality pro to do the formatting and the cover, you can usually walk away with an upfront cost lower than $200.
For reference: over half of indie authors make less than five hundred dollars a year.
The sales of What the Plus and APE piggybacked off of his previous ventures. I applaud him for his entrepreneurial success, but let's not confuse things here -- if Kawasaki released this book with the support that an unknown author enjoys, he would have a much different outlook. And, I suspect, much better and far more realistic advice to offer.
For around the same price, you can grab Michael Alvear's Make a Killing on Kindle, Tom Corson Knowles' The Kindle Publishing Bible, and download the weekly Self Publishing Podcast for free. This trifecta will teach you much more -- almost all you need to know about Kindle (and self-publishing in general) -- from people who have struggled and know what it's really like to be an indie author. All sans the boredom, preposterous purchase recommendations and superfluous pages.
UPDATE 10/20/2015: With the indie publishing landscape moving so fast, I figured I should update my list of recommended resources. While the Self Publishing Podcast remains valuable - and free - the two books I mentioned in the paragraph above are less pertinent today than they were two and a half years ago. Excellent and current resources include the Writers' Cafe on the KBoards forums (do a Google search) and Susan Kaye Quinn's FOR LOVE OR MONEY (if you're a fiction writer). I would also pick up a copy of Nick Stephenson's READER MAGNETS, which is currently a free download on Amazon.
There is a great overview of all the digital and print distribution services an author can sell their work through and how to use them. While APE doesn't tell you how to format your book in step-by-step instructions, it does refer authors to formatting guidelines and recommended software. There are sections on common mistakes and concerns.
Guy includes a list of pros and cons for using every avenue for distribution, editing service, software, social media site, and marketing tactic that help authors make informed decisions about what will work best for them.
The writing in this book is clear with an enjoyable conversational voice. After reading the book, I felt as if Guy would be a very approachable person to email for further discussion. There is also an APE community on Google+ that anyone can join to connect with other writers, editors, designers, etc.
I read the eBook and everything is formatted well and displayed great on my Kindle apps for Android and Windows 8.
Guy's commitment to free update for this book is fantastic and should maintain the value of this book as a resource for authors for the foreseeable future.
I learned quite a bit from reading this book. I have used Amazon KDP and CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble's PubIt/NookPress in the past, but this book broadened my horizons on other possible outlets. While everyone knows about Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as marketing outlets and a way to build a platform, Guy presented a number of new spins on these services and how to use them.
I gave this book four stars instead of five because I don't feel this book 100% fits the majority of the audience that will read it. While there are plenty of low-cost methods for producing books highlighted in APE, the book does suggest putting quite a bit of money into self-publishing. While it seems logical, it may not be realistic for many first-time authors who are already struggling in today's economy. Guy also talks a great deal about utilizing social media for beta readers and word-of-mouth marketing. Guy was already an established author with a platform before self-publishing, so his social media following seems considerable extensive with branding as an author. Guy gives plenty of tips on how to build your platform as well, but it feels more like a side note rather than the focus of the text.
I will definitely be reading portions of this book again. I made plenty of notes and highlights to review. I am definitely happy with this purchase.
The best sections for me were 26-29. I can use that information to help make improvements on one of my books, Publishing a Book on Amazon: 7 Steps to Publishing your #1 Book on Amazon Kindle in Minutes! (Similar to: Shelley Hitz, Nicholas Black, Tom Corson-Knowles, ... Ryan Deiss, John Locke, Oli Hille, Michael)
Summary of Likes:
1) That the book was written by someone recognized in the book industry
2) That Guy shared how he published on Amazon, marketed the book
3) Confirmed that some writers and authors refuse to buy from Amazon, so he mentions an alternative to CreateSpace
4) Confirming who to pick your battles with when you get comments and feedback - not everyone is going to like what you create
5) How to Finance your Book was an appealing section of the book
I thought the Cover design was ok and it definitely could be improved. It still works though as Guy Kawasaki can sell content, just from using his name.
If you are a publisher, writer, or author I recommend reading & reviewing this book.