Review: APE How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

In this case, APE stands for Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, which are the three roles you need to fill if you intend to self-publish in today’s publishing landscape. Since I’m self-publishing, I thought I’d give it a look and see if there was anything there for me. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much.

Certainly, the book is filled with lots of good information and primers. It would have been a great thing for me to read a year and a half ago. But now… most of the content of the book was stuff I’ve already figured out on my own. That doesn’t make me an expert, and I was hoping for more from these guys who supposedly are.

The Author section was mostly a collection of tools to use while writing (Word, Scrivener, etc.) as well as some arguments for pursuing self-publishing over the traditional path of submitting to a publisher. There was very little here on actual writing, but in fairness, that subject is too large and belongs in several other books on specific writing issues. Still, I felt pretty bored during the section and was eager to skip ahead.

The Publisher section was mostly about the nuts and bolts of taking your manuscript and getting it to the point where a reader could actually purchase it. This was pretty good, but I felt it gave too much credit to author service companies like those under the umbrella of Author Solutions without giving them the kind of critical analysis that the folks at Writer Beware do. Also, I would have liked to have seen more commentary on cover design as well as describing more mechanisms for creating e-book files. Nowhere did I see it mentioned that most e-book files are processed HTML and that the most reliable source format for the conversion is not Word or InDesign but HTML.

The Entrepreneur section was mostly about marketing. I didn’t see anything revolutionary here, just the same social media push that everyone else talks about. There was also a fair amount said about getting into the press via press reports, etc. I have mixed feelings about that. A lot of people tell you it’s a waste of time. Other people claim it gets them a lot of free publicity. Personally, I have a suspicion that it has less to do with your press release and who you send it to as it has to do with whether the recipient of that press release knows who you (or your traditional publisher) are.

So like I said, I would have found this useful before I started down the self-publishing path, but if you’ve already done it yourself, there won’t be much new stuff here.