Wednesday, February 13, 2013

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur (How to Publish a Book), by Guy Kawasaki, Shawn Welch

Nononina Press, ISBN 9780988523, December 2012

Do you have a book you want to write, something that would add value to the world for the people who would read it? An exciting story, a history of something most people don't know about, an instructional book on your area of expertise? A cookbook? Whatever the subject or the nature of the book, at one time your only option was to interest an established publisher in buying it. That's still the most obvious course, and for many reasons, it's often the best course. Established publishers have editors, copy-editors, art directors, contracts with printers, marketing departments, distribution networks. That's a lot of work that gets done for you, while you "only" have to write the book and collect your advance and, if you're fortunate, your royalty payments as they come in.

That's less easy that it seems, however. Publishers also have so many book proposals coming in that it's tough for your book to get accepted. It can take months, and if it is accepted, the process of getting the book to publication also takes months. You also lose a great deal of control over your book, once you've signed on the dotted line with a traditional publisher.

Getting your book published by a traditional publisher is a good course to take, but it's not the only course, and it's not the right course for every writer and every book. Self-publishing is now a realistic option, if it is the right course for you and for your book. Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch tell you how to do it.

This is a practical handbook on how to successfully master every step of the process and the tools to use while you do: writing your book, publishing it, and then, in some ways the most important and most challenging step, promoting it. At each stage, there are challenges and risks that are not always apparent to the novice. One example is editing. No, you cannot be your own editor. You need other eyes and other viewpoints to identify the weak spots, the inelegances, the plain errors and inconsistencies that you can't see because you know what you meant. This book offers practical guidance on how to obtain these services without getting taken to the cleaners by those who profit from the naivete of inexperienced self-publishing writers. It also covers more nitty-gritty practical questions, such as why you want to use Microsoft Word, and why you want to use Word styles from the very beginning, in the actual writing of your book.

In the section on publishing your book, again, covers everything from the basic strategies you can, should, or must pursue, to specific, practical guidance on how to carry out the essential tasks. One of these is converting your Word manuscript into both a print-publishable form and the different formats needed for electronic publishing on the different platforms available, including Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. There's valuable information on dealing with author services companies, working with a printer directly, and assessing which course is best for you.

Finally, there's that most difficult part of the process, promoting your own book. It's not enough to just make it available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other online outlets. Without a traditional publisher behind you, you have to do the work of making people aware that your book exists and they want to read it. If you don't have a famous name, your odds of reaching the same size audience that you could with a traditional publisher are low--but that may not matter. What you need to reach is your audience, and most forms of marketing a self-published book allow you to keep a much larger percentage of the sale price than the royalty you would get from a traditional publisher. Self-publishing isn't a path to riches, but it can be a source of meaningful income if you are successful at it, and if what you are writing is specialized non-fiction, it can pay dividends in the form of making you better recognized in your own field.

Some parts of APE:Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur are fun to read, thought provoking and stimulating, while others are pure practical handbook for carrying out some of the more techie tasks involved in publishing your book. It's all worth reading, and indispensable if you are considering self-publishing your own book.

Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the authors.