APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. Self-published under Nononina Press, 2013. x, 313 pp.
Guy Kawasaki is the author of 11 previous books, including What the Plus!, Enchantment, and the Art of the Start. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com and the former chief evangelist of Apple. Shawn Welch is the author of From Idea to App, iOS 5 Core Frameworks, and iOS 6 for Developers. Previously he worked as a senior media editor for Pearson Education where he helped develop early iPad solutions.
The goal of the book is to share tools, insight, and experience about self-publishing a book in an era of a significant change in the world of books. Today, a potential author faces the challenge of gaining the attention of a publisher, getting the idea accepted, negotiating a fair deal, getting the book completed, and getting it marketed. The substantial barriers at each step are compounded by the challenge of getting attention of the key players in this noisy world.
Kawasaki and Welch make their case in a much broader way than the title would suggest. The starting point raises the question of whether a person should write a book at all. They offer four good reasons and two bad reasons (e.g., money and encouragement from friends). They then do a brief review of traditional publishing, self-publishing, e-books, and tools for writers before launching the “how to” portion of the book. The review is not there as filler, but provides a framework for understanding the steps that must be followed to get a book from the head of the writer to the eyes of the reader. Topics include writing, publishing, and selling your book. They conclude with a case study for how they did this particular book.
The topics and style in this book are amazing in breadth, style, and detail. They include a discussion of how and where to get help and what tools to use. These are not general suggestions, but specific statements about what to do and why. For example, they make a case for the MacBook air as the writing tool and Word for the word processor. They review and analyze various providers of services. They discuss the “voice” that is needed in a book, they argue for having an even number of pages (so the final page is not blank—and then they wrote 313 pages!), and argue that in a series, a comma is needed before the final “and” or “or.” In the latter case, they use the example,
“To my parents, Ayn Rand and God” implies that the person’s parents were Ayn Rand and God (that’s quite the couple!).” p. 83
Minor quibbles. It may be a good idea to read chapter 15 early in your reading. Here they outline author services (including detailed descriptions of some of those services). I suggest this because the average author may not be a writer, editor, entrepreneur, marketer, artist, and social media expert as Kawasaki and Welch are. Also, they are a bit more exuberant about e-books than I am. Though they offer a list of limitations for electronic books, the list misses key points (such as the potential life of the book) that I think are important in the comparison. In a style characteristic of Guy Kawasaki, they offer strong opinions that perhaps need a grain of salt to go with them. But these make it fun to read.
APE is insightful, valuable, and useful. It is a must for the aspiring author, but is a great read for anyone interested in exploring how technology is fundamentally restructuring the publishing world, and restructuring other areas by extension. I highly recommend this book.
Reviewed by Al Erisman