On any given day, you may draft a proposal for work, a testimonial for a friend, an acceptance speech, an opinion piece for the newspaper, or a blog. Each time you’re putting yourself out there, so now maybe you’re ready to write a book.
What’s stopping you?
For years getting a book published was part shooting in the dark, endless rejection, and disappointment. Traditional publishers held all the cards and often provided more obstacles than help. I certainly had my share of frustration and disillusionment when my book was published.
Fortunately, times have changed. If you have a book in you, the paths to publication are wide open.
Once again, Guy Kawasaki comes to our aid with his fabulous new book: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book, written with Shawn Welch.
When the publisher of his New York Times bestseller, Enchantment, couldn’t fill an order for 500 ebook copies, he decided to self-publish his next book, What the Plus! That’s when he experienced the complex and confusing process of self-publishing and decided to sort it all out for us in APE.
Guy’s book covers traditional, ebook, and publishing-on-demand in his typically clear-cut style. He starts by making sure, we, as writers, understand these good reasons for writing:
Both writer and reader benefit when a book enables gains in the following areas:
- Enrich Lives
- Intellectual Challenges
- Further a Cause
His challenge is this:
Will your book add value to people’s lives? This is a severe test, but if your answer is affirmative, there’s no doubt you should write a book.
We live at a time where you, as a writer, can also be your own publisher. Guy notes that ebooks, although representing only about 10% of book purchases today, can be published and supported through sites like Kindle Direct Publishing, iBooks Author, and others that he identifies and explains.
He also grounds us in the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing:
The problem isn’t that traditional publishers are dumb or evil…The problem is that traditional publishing grew up in a world with limits and logistics such as shelf space, access to printing presses, editing and production expertise, and shipping of physical books.
The shelf space for ebooks, however, is infinite, and anyone who can use a word processor can write and publish a book. These changes don’t mean that books are better…but at least the system is more accessible.
Guy goes on to cover the process, mechanics, approaches, and available resources for creating ebooks and publishing hard copies through print-on-demand, covering key steps and potential pitfalls.
He then drives home this point that, as a self-publisher, you become, by necessity, an entrepreneur:
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.
To sell we need to have a ready platform to tap into. He explains:
‘Platform’ is marketing-speak for the sum total of people you know and who know you….
The process of building a platform takes six to twelve months….If you don’t have a platform yet, you need to build one as you are writing your book.
Guy identifies what it takes to attract and maintain your platform:
Call me idealistic, but your platform is only as good as your reality. If you suck as a person, your platform will suck too. The three pillars of a persona brand are trustworthiness, likeability, and competence: TLC.
If you’ve ever eaten from a great loaf of artisanal bread, you know what it means to have created something delicious from the heart. Guy’s notion of “artisanal publishing” is:
The concept of authors writing, publishing, and lovingly crafting their books with complete artistic control in a high-quality manner.
The work of writing is still hard and marketing your book takes commitment. But the process, now, more than even is in your hands. That means it’s time to write on!
I give a big “thank you” to Guy Kawasaki for sending me a signed copy of APE so I could share my insights with you. His book has inspired me to take the self-publishing plunge. Now, I’ve got to get to work!