APE by Guy Kawasaki: An Exahustive Self-Publishing Guide

APE by Guy KawasakiIf you’re interested in self-publishing, or if you have a book on Amazon or any of the other ebook retailers that you’re not quite happy with, then you need to check out APE: How to Publish a Book (affiliate link) by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. It’s easily the most info-packed book on self-publishing I’ve ever read. (Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.)

What’s with the “APE” bit of the title? APE stands for Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur, and self-publishers really need to be able to be all three parts of the equation. If they can’t? Well, Kawasaki and Welch took that into account, as well, and provided a ton of resources that hopeful APEs can use.

Kawasaki’s Journey

First off, let me say that I have immense respect for Guy Kawasaki. I started reading his posts on Google+, found his book What the Plus!, and recently read Enchantment (a modern-day version of How to Win Friends and Influence People). I’ve found Kawasaki’s work to be incredibly useful when it comes to understanding marketing in the era of social media. The author understands the delicate balance between creating community and drawing a return on the investment.

Guy KawasakiAPE came about because of Kawasaki’s journey through self-publishing with What the Plus!. Kawasaki had already authored several books by the time that his book on Google+ came out, but he had never self-published before. The process was much more difficult than he expected.

Fiction Vs. Non-fiction

In terms of building audience support and taking the time to create quality material, fiction and non-fiction are similar in degrees of difficulty. In translating those manuscripts into finished ebooks, the difference is far more pronounced. With fiction, you can pretty well use a Microsoft Word document and just export it into a Kindle format without much loss of formatting.

Shawn WelchBut with non-fiction, you have numbered lists, charts, and images. You have elements that need to be left- or right-aligned on a page in order for the content to work. You can set up that information inside Word, but you cannot easily export it into ebook format.

This is where APE comes in handy. Co-author Shawn Welch has a ton of experience in working with formatting ebooks, and the author team has a very thorough guide on how to set up an Adobe InDesign file to properly format an imported Word document. While Adobe products are quite costly, the authors also provide info about Adobe’s new monthly program where you can download just the product you need for a monthly fee and discontinue the option when you no longer need it.

Author / Publisher / Entrepreneur

I suspect that different parts of the audience for this book will find certain sections the most useful. For me, someone who has played around in the self-publishing field, the “Publisher” portion of the book was extremely helpful. In fact, this was one of the few books that I’ve read recently where I actually had a pen and paper with me so that I could take notes.

I’ve read quite a few books on writing, so the “Author” portion of the book was fairly in terms of tips. Kawasaki’s method of soliciting feedback is especially interesting (a sort of open-source system combined with employing traditional editors), and the author team listed online resources I had not heard of before or made much use of. (I think I’ll be posting content to Wattpad this week to see what the community is like there.)

The “Entrepreneur” section was also fairly familiar, but only because I’ve read so much of Kawasaki’s work recently.

In the intro to the book, Kawasaki states that he wants this book to be as useful to self-publishers as The Chicago Manual of Style is for writers everywhere. I, for one, will certainly keep this book handy as I work on new self-publishing efforts.


  1. says

    Thanks, Michael, that sounds pretty interesting. I’ve dabbled in self-publishing before, but I do find I like the instant feed back of creating infoproducts and blog posts. However, I am looking outward to a Unified Theory Of Catalysm and thinking that that’s really the sort of thing that should be in a real book. I will definitely look this book up when I start to take the plunge!

  2. says

    I still have a copy of What the Plus! floating around somewhere. It sounds like I need to read it!
    I do think these are three roles that are coming together more and more and that the more one knows about the others, the better off that person is. This is the first book I’ve seen mentioned that deals with all three, though, so excellent! It sounds like a great pairing of authors. I love that it grew out of Kawasaki’s own self-publishing experience, too. Thanks for the review!

  3. says

    @Shanna Mann I’m with you Shanna. At this point in my entrepreneur journey, I’d much rather create infoproducts and various types of free content. But there’s this twitch in the back of my brain that constantly tells me, “You’re going to have to (or want to) publish a book sometime dude. So you better know how when that times comes.” There’s even a small chance my big product for 2013 could take the form of a book and I might want to self-publish that.
    Michael: Thanks for the good write up! I’m not planning on reading Guy’s book(s) right now, but your review lets me know when it would be a good idea to do that.

  4. Michael says

    What the Plus! is a pretty quick read, and I imagine you could skim through it now. There are a few tips that you may be helpful there still.

  5. michaelwroberts says

    @remadebyhand What the Plus! is a pretty quick read, and I imagine you could skim through it now. There are a few tips that you may be helpful there still.

  6. michaelwroberts says

    @Shanna Mann Yeah, feedback through blog comments and social media is very rewarding. I’m finding that I tend to create in (short) book-size chunks, so anything that helps cut down on the difficulty of the process is welcome!

  7. michaelwroberts says

    @joeyjoejoe Hey Joel, you can produce smaller ebooks for free on sites like Smashwords. Amazon will often price-match (though this seems to be in flux right now), but this would then enable free content for a very large potential audience.