The Independent Publisher
The perfect companion to APE, The Independent Publisher: How to Build and Promote Your Best-Selling Book was designed to help make “quality, well-made books become the norm, not the exception” according to co-author Jillian Bergsma. The book, written by Jerrold Jenkins, owner of the Traverse City-based independent publisher the Jenkins Group, brings over 25 years of publishing expertise to the table, illuminating the pitfalls and triumphs that writers may face as they see their own book through each stage of development and publication.
The strategies featured in the pages of The Independent Publisher reveal the four P’s of book marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. But while Jenkins speaks from a publishing background, his tips can be applied to virtually any business practice, making the book a vital read for anyone, from experienced authors to newcomers, and from seasoned businessmen and women to beginning entrepreneurs.
To learn more about The Independent Publisher, click here.
Indie Groundbreaking Book: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur
Apple veteran hopes his latest book will become an independent publishing essential
Guy Kawasaki may have served as chief evangelist for Apple and special advisor to Google’s Motorola unit, but over the years, he’s also taken on a role that neither he—nor, probably, his high school English teacher—ever expected: that of author. When Kawasaki left Apple behind and started trying to build his own software business, he began to truly value the lessons he had learned at his former company. The result of that newfound appreciation was Kawasaki’s first book—titled The Macintosh Way: The Art of Guerilla Management—a tome that related many of the stories, lessons, and marketing secrets Kawasaki had gained in seeing a version of the Macintosh computer through its early development stages, and an idealistic vision of what the business world might look like if everyone operated “the Macintosh way.”
Today, with 12 books under his belt covering different factions of his innovation, technological, and marketing expertise, Kawasaki is becoming one of the loudest authorial voices on the professional “how to” circuit. He penned a book about Google + a few years ago and has shared advice with upstart entrepreneurs on how to get their businesses off the ground. But now, with his latest book picking up steam —the sprawling self-publishing guide that is APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book has been roundly praised throughout the industry—and with thousands of new aspiring authors looking to get their works out to the world, Kawasaki may be poised to become one of the most noted authorities in independent publishing.
A disciple of the Chicago Manual of Style, Kawasaki began the APE project with a vision of creating a comprehensive walkthrough for self-publishers that would essentially serve as the definitive guidebook for the field. He joined forces with fellow tech writer Shawn Welch and began constructing the pages and chapters of APE, an extensive instructional manual that (among other things) breaks down misconceptions of the publishing industry, queries authors about their motives for writing a book, and lays forth the unique demands of the independent publishing circuit. As the title of the book implies, Kawasaki knows that a successful self-published author in the net age must be more than just a terrific writer: they must adopt (or outsource) the duties of book layout, appearance, copy editing, marketing, and dissemination normally handled by a publishing firm. In other words, they must become both publisher and entrepreneur, and as Kawasaki and Welch make clear throughout this book, those tasks are complicated, time-consuming, and not always instantly rewarding.
“We wrote the book to become the standard,” Kawasaki explained. “Because there are lots of books out there that cover self-publishing, but they usually only cover one aspect. They cover how to write, how to self publish, or how to market, and we wanted to do all three. It’s a very interactive process, and it’s not serial, it’s parallel. You really have to move all things down the line at the same time. So that’s what I wanted to do. Also, I think a lot of the books about self publishing are about the get rich quick aspect, which I believe to be false advertising.”
Indeed, in a book market saturated with self-published authors (one look through manuscripts on Amazon.com should reveal the rapidly swelling nature of the eBook marketplace), getting rich at all probably is not going to be part of the equation for most go-it-alone authors. But as someone who has worked with major publishers in the past, Kawasaki says that independent publishing has strengths where even the biggest corporations still have blind spots. For example, in 2011, following the release of his tenth book, Enchantment, Kawasaki and Penguin, his publisher of the time, were approached by a large tech company who wanted to buy 500 eBook copies of the book for a giveaway promotion. Since Penguin doesn’t sell eBooks directly, the company was referred first to Apple, then to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And as Kawasaki relates at the very beginning of APE, the process didn’t work out so well.
“The traditional publishing system could not process a bulk order for 500 eBooks,” he said. “The company had to buy them one at a time.”
Amazed by the shortcomings of such a major industry, Kawasaki decided to test the waters of independent publishing for his next book (last year’s What the Plus, a how-to for the social media platform Google +). Quickly, he learned how hard it was to create a decent eBook—especially with the formatting hurdles that a non-fiction guide book presents, from pictures to captures to bulleted lists—and the seed for a comprehensive self-publishing walkthrough was planted.
The result is APE, a 400-page bible that Kawasaki hopes independent authors will revisit time and time again as they continue to encounter new challenges. But what are the most important tips a prospective self-publisher needs to know? Kawasaki was kind enough to distill his expertise down to five make-or-break essentials:
- “Use Microsoft Word. Because so many entities downstream have standardized on Word, that it’s not worth fighting the fight. Copy editors, content editors, reviewers, designers, people who work on layout, they all use Word. So don’t try to use a different word processor to be cool or different.”
- “The day you start writing the book is the day you start building your social media platform, because you’re going to need that nine months down the road, and then it will be too late to start growing it.”
- “I don’t care how good a writer you are, you need a copy editor.”
- “I don’t care how good a designer you are, you are not a good enough designer for your cover. You need to hire a cover designer.”
- “Crowd sourcing can be very helpful for outline, proofing, reviews, etc. Don’t be scared about sending the link [to your book] out to people. The benefits of crowd sourcing outweigh costs, and you don’t have to worry about the two people who stole your book because they probably weren’t going to buy it anyway.”
To learn more about Kawasaki, Welch, or APE in general, visit the book’s website at apethebook.com. In addition to author bios, bookstore links, and review blurbs or industry testimonials, the website includes numerous valuable tools and resources for self publishers, including a royalty calculator, a test for copy editors, and a library of the 350+ hyperlinks that appear throughout the electronic version of APE.
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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In edition to writing for Independent Publisher, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.