My review of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch


The great thing about technology is it is now possible for anyone to publish their own book. You could also say the bad thing about technology is that it is now possible for anyone to publish their own book.

Because it is now so easy to create, publish and sell your own book, there has been a veritable explosion of self-published titles. The runaway success of books like Fifty Shades of Grey has only helped to fuel the Gold Rush.

Undoubtedly, a lot of the books that people are flogging online are mediocre and will probably never find an audience. More disappointing is that there are some great books that are being drowned in that sea of mediocrity and will also never find a substantial audience.

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is a book that will help you rise above that mediocre sea so that your book has a fighting chance.

Co-authored by Guy Kawasaki, former Apple evangelist turned author and web entrepreneur, and Shawn Welch, a developer and author of programming books, the book is a step-by-step manual for anyone interested in self-publishing. As the title suggests, it teaches you about the three hats you need to wear as a self-published writer.

The author part of the book explains the nitty-gritty of what it takes to write and prepare your text for publication. If you’re one of those writers who spends more time reading books about writing than actually writing them then you’re probably familiar with some of this, but what is different is that the information is updated for the internet era.

The publisher part of the book outlines the steps needed to sell a book online, whether it be an electronic or a physical book. Like the author portion preceding it, this book goes into great detail about the many services available online today to help you in this process. In many ways it goes into too much detail so you may find yourself only skimming large portions. That’s okay, because the authors suggest you don’t get too caught up on the details when first reading the book, but to instead familiarize yourself with its contents so you can go back to it as a reference when you are actually ready to publish.

The entrepreneur portion of the book explains how to use the internet and social media to help spur sales. I’d imagine that the advice is good if you actually have a product worth selling. I don’t think any amount of social media is going to get people to buy something that is a boring read. Word spreads pretty quickly if something is poor quality.

As I read APE, I couldn’t help but think that large portions of the information contained within had a short shelf life. There were detailed descriptions of services offered by Amazon and others which is great stuff, but would it still be pertinent two years from now? Maybe, but web years go fast so who knows what disruptive services might come along by then?

If you’re at all interested in skipping the traditional publishing process and want to sell your own book directly to your readers, then APE is a great place to start, but, be forewarned, you have to be ready to work three jobs: author, publisher and entrepreneur.

You can buy a copy of the book from The Book Depository, where worldwide shipping is free.