In 2011 the publisher of one of my books, Enchantment, could not fill an order for 500 ebook copies of the book. Because of this experience, I self-published my next book, What the Plus!, and learned first-hand that self-publishing is a complex, confusing, and idiosyncratic process. As Steve Jobs said, "There must be a better way."
With Shawn Welch, a tech wizard, I wrote APE to help people take control of their writing careers. APE's thesis is powerful yet simple: filling the roles of Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur yields results that rival traditional publishing. We call this "artisanal publishing"--that is, when writers who love their craft control the publishing process and produce high-quality books.
APE is 300 pages of step-by-step, tactical advice and practical inspiration. If you want a hype-filled, get-rich-quick book, you should look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a comprehensive and realistic guide to self-publishing, APE is the answer.
Much like the argument that the phrase "gay marriage" is becoming obsolete in favor of simply "marriage", the old terms "vanity-publishing" and "self-publishing" are becoming less distinguishable from simply "publishing". While paper-publishers who publish paper books that end up on the New York Times Bestseller List and live on the shelves at your local bookstore are not going anywhere soon, the prestige of being recognized by a "big publisher" is no longer much of a thing. Self-publishing is no longer the home of crackpots and D-list celebrity memoirs. Self-publishing is...publishing!
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki is the latest and best book I've thus-far found about how to write, format, and sell that book that is inside you and is dying to escape. It starts with the conceptual material that you will find in just about every "how to write a book" book, but it does it without the obligatory "how to impress the publishing house" chapter. But that's not necessarily a rosy path. If you have the writing skills of a chimp but somehow manage to finagle Random House into publishing your novel on paper, you can bet that it will go through enough passes of editing that it will be literate by the time it hits the shelf. Not so with electronic publishing. APE does cover both the challenges of writing and multi-pass editing in addition to all the technical bits required to get your words into an internet bookstore.
The technical aspects of the book are quite specific and useful, and they use the book itself and the author's previous e-book What The Plus! as a test-bed for all of their experiments. After all, a 300+ page MS Word document is a pretty good way to test the depth of the various software tools that can convert your work into the formats preferred by online stores.
Despite the author's notable work with Apple, the book is quite free of brand evangelizing. He's clearly just finding the best tools to get the job done.
My main worry about a book of this type is that it will become dated and the references to particular pieces of software or services will become curiosities over time. And addressing this, Mr. Kawasaki is using himself as an example of how electronic publishing can keep a work current in the face of rapidly changing technology. The book itself has undergone several updates since first appearing in the e-bookstores. It is one of the chief advantages of electronic publishing compared to paper, and it is an advantage the author is leveraging.
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book is a work in which the author has done all the experimentation required to get a book written and formatted and uploaded and published and monetized and successful. If you have a book inside you that wants out, this book will help you get there.