Book Review: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book

One of the things I have been interested in doing is writing and publishing a book. Until now, I always thought that publishing a book was just out of my grasp. After reading Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch’s book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book*, I believe it is something I can do.  In fact, they have made the process so clear, I have already set out on my journey.

Kawasaki explained that he wrote this book because of all the challenges he faced while writing a couple of his books. Taking the lessons he learned while self-publishing What the Plus!*, he felt the need to share his lessons. Not only has he written a comprehensive guide to the process, he also models what he has written. Kawasaki and Welch cover their content in approximately 315 pages across 29 chapters. Throughout the book, they focus on three different aspects of self-publishing: author, publisher, and entrepreneur. They cover the topic of authoring in 7 chapters, publishing in 14 chapters, and entrepreneurship in 8 chapters.

As I mentioned, they model what they write about. Throughout the book, they use ample headings to help navigate the reader. They religiously use hyperlinks to connect additional external resources as well as facilitate navigation through the book. They also use frequent imagery and bullets to make reading easier and more engaging.

Author

The authors began the book with seven chapters on authoring. Each chapter is relatively short and focuses on a specific issue related to authoring. The first chapter asks the question, why are you writing a book? The authors want you to be clear why you were writing a book. They gave reasons why writing a book would be a good idea and reasons why you should not write one. They then discussed the history of traditional publishing and self-publishing. Additionally, they wrote about the benefits of self-publishing as well as the challenges and drawbacks. Interesting… “Until the mid-nineteenth century, most authors published their books at their own expense” (Chapter 3, Section:  Artisanal Publishing, para. 4). Putnam changed the model. It looks like we are coming full circle. The authors also addressed the effect ebooks are having on publishing, and how it is a major turning point in the writer and reader relationship. Kawasaki and Welch talked about the different tools available to write, and how each tool would help the writing process. As a fan of Evernote, I was glad to see it get a mention. One of the key points they emphasized repeatedly was the importance of using styles while writing.  I wholehearted concur. While writing my dissertation, styles were essential to its completion. During the actual writing process, they stress the importance of having an extremely thorough outline. Kawasaki explained that he uses crowd-sourcing to help develop his outlines. They also stressed the editing process. Each of the authors would review the document at least ten times on paper and  as an ebook on several devices.

Publisher

Changing hats to that of a publisher, the authors begin with another look at the editing process, and they talked about the importance of a copy editor. During this discussion, they gave suggestions for finding people to help with editing. In chapter 9, they talked about various parts of the book and specific elements of style. They recommended picking up a Chicago Manual of Style. An entire chapter focused on how to develop a book cover and its importance. In many of these required steps, Kawasaki hired a professional to assist with the process. He also spoke about pricing for these different services. Five chapters were devoted to book distribution and publishing services. There were lots of technical details within these chapters. They also discussed how to convert files to formats acceptable to these services, how to upload the files, how to price your books, and how to create audio versions of your book. The amount of detail in each chapter makes this book a valuable resource when getting to that part of the process.

Entrepreneur

The last section focused on getting your book sold. With self-publishing, a lot of the responsibility for selling books rests with you, the author. Kawasaki and Welch recommended developing your network at the same time you are writing your book. They also talked about how to get bloggers to write about your book. They did a great job talking about how to develop your brand and platform. This is an area everyone should attend to regardless if they are writing a book or not. Kawasaki and Welch outlined the different vehicles for getting the word out. For each, they discussed the benefits and the challenges.  Additionally, they provided great counsel for creating a social media profile. It is much of the same information that I provide to others. They also detailed how to share and comment in a social media environment. Finally, in perhaps the most important chapter, they went into great detail on how they published this particular book. They addressed the hardware and software they used, the file types they created, and where they uploaded the files. They addressed how they edited the book, how they solicited reviewers, and how they got bloggers to write about their book. This was theory in action. A very useful chapter for me.

I personally was very pleased with the level of detail presented in this book. It will make a great resource for years to come as I work my way through the self-publishing process. If you are thinking about writing a book, I strongly recommend getting a copy of this book.


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