Guy Kawasaki Removes The Middleman, Goes APE

In what may be a shot heard around the publishing world, Guy Kawasaki has just self-published a new book, entitled APE: How to Publish a Book. APE is the acronym for the three roles anyone wishing to self-publish a book must play: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur.

I repeat: self-published. Between folks like Tim Ferriss rejecting traditional publishing to go with Kindle Publishing, and now Guy subtracting the publisher entirely from the equation, we may be seeing the tipping point that marks a rapid demise in traditional publishing.

In 2011, a large technology company wanted to buy five hundred copies of the ebook version of Guy’s New York Times bestselling book, Enchantment, to use for a promotion. Guy’s publisher, Penguin, referred the lead to Apple. Apple told the company to buy five hundred gift cards, scratch off the back, and then enter individual gift codes one at a time into iTunes. At that point, the company gave up on Apple and tried Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You cannot buy multiple copies of an e-book on either. An employee of the company ended up making five hundred individual credit-card purchases.

“This fried my brain,” writes Guy, as his opening line.

That failure, like the kind behind many startups, prompted Guy to explore the world of self-publishing, which Guy relabels “artisanal publishing.” (NOTE: you still cannot buy multiple ebooks, so self-publishing does not solve that problem.)

What makes APE compelling is that it is much more than a practical guide to artisanal publishing–it’s an insightful and inspiring guide to what Guy does best: he starts enchanting concepts. The beauty of the book is that it stands as proof of concept, in that it practices everything it preaches.

There are three major sections, one for each of the three roles.

I believe the “Author” section, which is ostensibly about the writing process, holds a deeper view. Authorship is critical to any product, not just books. Authorship plays a role in designing games, for instance. Guy navigates the domain of authorship from motivation to implementation, covering territory ranging from your core purpose in authoring something, to editing and copyediting, to tools and techniques you need for financing and launching it.

The “Publisher” section is an encyclopedic treatment of the myriad ways to produce the work you’ve authored. There are 14 chapters covering everything from editing to design to printing and distribution. Guy unlocks the black box of publishing, revealing the nuts and bolts of how any book can be produced, and filled with current, practical and actionable information and advice.

The third section of APE, that of “Entrepreneur,” I found to be the most valuable part of the book and the most applicable to any small business. As a four-time author of traditionally published business books, I can attest to the mistake most first-time or would-be authors make: expecting someone else to market your book (or business). As Guy rightly points out, no one can do that better than you. Luckily, social media makes building a public presence and “platform” more expedient, and Guy is a master of the social platform, with over 1 million Twitter followers and over 3 million Google+ circlers.

Everything in the Entrepreneur section section is directly applicable to anyone owning a small business, or thinking of starting one. Guy pulls some of his best material from Enchantment for APE, which in and of itself is reason enough to devour the book.

APE is a departure for Guy. It’s the first time he’s co-authored. It’s the first time he’s gone strictly without a traditional publisher in the mix (his last book, What the Plus! was initially self-published, then picked up by McGraw-Hill).

With its hundreds of links to valuable resources, APE stands out as a one-stop shop for how to take an idea from inception to a tangible product that succeeds in the marketplace.

More than the actually content of APE, thought, it’s the effect of that content that I find most compelling: I find myself completely rethinking my publishing options for my next book. And any book that can change minds that way is a keeper.

You can find APE as a Kindle book on Amazon here.