Do you want to write a book but donâ€™t know where to start?
Or perhaps you have a manuscript that hasnâ€™t been published.
If so, this article is just for you.
These days it is next to impossible to get a major publisher interested in a book deal, particularly when youâ€™re a novice writer without an established platform. As far as theyâ€™re concerned, youâ€™re too risky and theyâ€™ll avoid you like the plague.
So what do you do?
Well, Guy Kawasaki, co-author ofÂ APE: How to Publish a Book, would tell you to self-publish.
â€œSelf-publishing enables you to determine your own fate. Thereâ€™s no need to endure the frustration of finding and working with a publisher.â€
Not that self-publishing is easy! In fact, Guy calls it a â€œmystifying, frustrating and inefficient taskâ€ if you donâ€™t know what youâ€™re doing.
Then why bother?
Because the publishing industry is in turmoil.
Guy explains the constraints of traditional publishingâ€”logistics and limitations of shelf space, of access to printing presses, editing, production expertise and shipping of physical books. As a result, someone has to act as a filter to decide what gets printed and what doesnâ€™tâ€”and itâ€™s not pretty.
On the other hand,Â self-publishing is unrestricted, accessible and shelf space for ebooks is infinite. If you know what youâ€™re doing (you can read the book to learn), self-publishing will openÂ doors of opportunityÂ that would otherwise remain firmly shut.
Hereâ€™s what you need to know aboutÂ APEÂ the book.
Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch are seasoned writers.
Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch, authors of APE.
Between them they have written 16 books (includingÂ APE). So when Guy decided to self-publish his previous book,Â What the Plus!, he was stunned at how difficult the process was. In fact, had it not been for his friend Shawn who explained the complexities of self-publishing, he would have hit a wall.
Together Guy and Shawn decided to write a bookÂ to help novice writers who are considering self-publishing. They humanize the publishing process, and remove all knowledge barriers that would otherwise make the experience traumatic.
What to Expect
If youâ€™ve never written a book before, youâ€™llÂ learn why you should write one, and why you shouldnâ€™t. If youâ€™ve never been published, youâ€™ll figure outÂ how to go from manuscript to book. And if you want toÂ turn your book into a cash cow, youâ€™ll learn how to do that too! Some other interesting thingsÂ you will learnÂ are:
- How to write your book
- How to avoid that â€œself-published lookâ€
- How to price your book
- How to sell your book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others
- How to share your book on social media
- And much more!
APEÂ is about empowering people who want to write their own book without giving up control to a publisher. To do this, you have toÂ become an author, a publisher and an entrepreneurÂ (APE). Hereâ€™s a glimpse of what that looks like:
Before you write a book, ask yourself, â€œWhat am I trying to achieve?â€ Most people write books for the wrong reasonsâ€”to make money, to become a thought leader or because â€œeveryone says I have a good story.â€ How typical. Why not take four and half minutes toÂ check out this video and see if youâ€™re a â€œtypical authorâ€Â (featuring Siri!).
A good writer seeks to enrich peopleâ€™s lives; for example, to entertain, provide knowledge, promote understanding, further a cause and so on. If it has to be about your personal goals, let it be because you want to master a new skill. This way if no one reads your book, at least you went out on a limb, took on an intellectual challenge and learned something new.
Being an author is a marathon. Guyâ€™s advice is toÂ postpone self-criticismÂ because if youâ€™re too harsh on yourself at the start of the writing process, chances are you might convince yourself that your book isnâ€™t good enough to finish.
A high-quality book needs extensive testing and copy editing. You donâ€™t need a traditional publisher to do these tasks, but you cannot eliminate them either. Hereâ€™s a cost estimate for publishing a 300-page book:
Your distribution channel depends on the type of book you want to publish.
Remember,Â your goal is to produce a book that reads, looks and feels like any book from a major publisher. So donâ€™t try to take shortcuts. However, you can get great feedback and save some money by following these tips:
- Editing.Â Get your family, friends, co-workers or niche online communities to copyedit your manuscript. You can also do a Facebook Graph search of â€˜self publishingâ€™ toÂ find people or groups that can help you. Other sites to check out for editing help areÂ Review Fuse,Â WritersCafe.org,Â Critters WorkshopÂ andÂ Critique Circle.
- Appearance is everything! People will judge your book by its cover.Â An attractive cover shows your professionalism and increases the marketability of your book. To avoid that sloppy â€œself-published look,â€ refer to theÂ Chicago Manual of StyleÂ for numerous tips on grammar, style and presentation.
Distribution is another key process in book publishing. There are four ways to distribute your book: Online book resellers, direct sales, author-services companies and print-on-demand.Â Hereâ€™s a decision matrix to help clarify your distribution channel options:
Even with self-publishing you still need to outsource some essential tasks.
Bonus tip: If youâ€™re not interested in mass distribution and just want to print a couple of book copies to give away to family and friends, you can use theÂ Espresso Book Machine, a print on demand (POD) machine that prints, collates, covers and binds your book in about five minutes!
Usually â€œentrepreneuringâ€ is the hardest and most neglected ofÂ APEâ€™s three roles because many authors donâ€™t understand marketing. (Side note: For Social Media Examiner readers, this should be a walk in the park!)
As an entrepreneur, you should market your book for as long as people want to buy it.
Image source: iStockPhoto.
Your job is toÂ turn the book project into a marketable product that people will want to buy. First you have toÂ understand how people discover new books:
- Friends and peers tell them about it
- They read about it on blogs or websites
- Amazon suggests it to them
- They Googled a term and your book showed up in the results
- They searched for an item on Amazon and your book showed up in the results
When theyâ€™ve found your book, people look at the star rating and the user reviews. Then they decide whether or not to buy it. SoÂ here are some tips to â€œguerilla-marketâ€ your book:
- Use all your online and offline contacts and connectionsÂ and offer a PDF version of the book to anyone who is willing to review it. (Cost: $0)
- UseÂ Google+ Hangouts on AirÂ to broadcast your book and give it away. (Cost: $0)
- Catalyze user reviews on AmazonÂ within 48 hours of when your book shipsâ€”ask your social media connections and the people who wrote a blurb on your book. Also donâ€™t forget to contactÂ Amazonâ€™s Top ReviewersÂ as well. (Cost: $0)
- Make it easy for others to review your bookÂ by putting all background material (e.g., authorâ€™s bio, picture, book cover image, book specs, blurbs, etc.) in one place such as a landing page on your website. (Cost: $0)
Remember your activities as an author donâ€™t end when your book is published. You shouldÂ market your book for as long as people want to buy it.
Having read some of his other books, I know how passionate Guy gets about a subject he loves. LikewiseÂ this book is seasoned with his enchanting, humorous personalityÂ (he writes most of the book, by the way).
But what struck me aboutÂ APEÂ is how honest and pragmatic it is. Itâ€™s remarkable to see how he exposes the very publishing model that made him aÂ New York Timesbestseller! Though even as a self-publishing advocate, he cautions that ebooks make up only 10% of total book sales in the U.S.â€”one of the huge doses of reality in this book.
So hereâ€™s the good news. If youâ€™re aspiring to become a published author,Â APEâ€™s message is that you donâ€™t need a publisher to get your story out. Itâ€™s a great time to be a writer and this time around, the system is rigged in your favor. Why notpick up the bookÂ andÂ get started on your self-publishing adventure!
Social Media Examiner gives this excellent book aÂ 5.0 star rating.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing?Â Please share in the comment box below.
**This article was first published on Social Media Examiner on April 4th, 2013.