The good news is that disruptive innovation is flourishing in publishing right now. It’s breaking down barriers that kept many authors from getting their books published and making new levels of autonomy and artistic freedom possible. Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch have written an excellent guidebook to this new publishing frontier called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book.
Having published books with both traditional publishers and through self-publishing, I found many of the examples accurate, humorous, truthful and well written. If you ever wanted to write a book, APE is going to give you the road map to turn those aspirations into reality. Here are the key take-aways I have from reading APE:
- Write about subjects you are the most passionate about. Concentrating on the subjects you know the best and have the greatest passion for will deliver the greatest value to readers. Don’t worry about having enough external accolades of your writing background or what other people think. Write the book you know will enrich readers based on your expertise. And don’t compare yourself to more established writers, that will just slow you down. The authors bring up the point that when you find what you are the most passionate about and what is the most value to readers, you have a great book idea. I agree, the best books I’ve read have that quality. Look at the book as a conversation with the reader where you share your expertise. The first chapters of APE offer an excellent example of this. Guy Kawasaki credits If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland with learning this lesson.
- Think about enriching the reader and making a contribution to their knowledge. This is great advice, because it forces an author to put the reader and their needs first. A book comes alive and is easier to write when it’s being written for the reader’s benefit. Don’t write a book for money, write it to enrich readers and share what you know. Write to make a statement of how you see a given subject and to communicate your reviews. Above all, write to enrich the reader and leave them better off for reading your book.
- Get a good copy editor. This is excellent advice, especially for those books being self-published. The authors provide several references of people and companies they have worked with who can help.
- Invest in a good cover design. The authors provide resources for finding the best cover designer for your book and explain how critical this is to its success. It’s the first impression anyone has of your book, make it great.
- Use Microsoft Word for writing. As Word is the de facto standard in self-publishing this is a must-have. The ability to track changes with Word makes it ideal for working with copy editors too.
- Be Your Books’ Entrepreneur. The chapters in this section were my favorite. The authors provide realistic, hands-on advice and guidance on how to create a marketing platform for your book, how to engage with social media, and how to pitch bloggers and reviewers.
Entertaining, Educational & Fun
This book is a quick read and is crammed with great information. It’s entertaining, educational and fun while presenting the many options authors have available in self-publishing. There is a healthy degree of irreverence too, which makes the tone more like a conversation. As I read this book, a favorite Japanese Proverb came to mind:
“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher”
The authors are great teachers of this rapidly expanding area of self-publishing. It’s as if you are visiting with two people who have invested many hours in understanding self-publishing and are sharing their insights with you. That is what makes this book so useful.
(Cross-posted @ Enterprise Software Strategist)