social media book reviewsDo you want to write a book but don’t know where to start?

Or perhaps you have a manuscript that hasn’t been published.

If so, this article is just for you.

These days it is next to impossible to get a major publisher interested in a book deal, particularly when you’re a novice writer without an established platform. As far as they’re concerned, you’re too risky and they’ll avoid you like the plague.

So what do you do?

Well, Guy Kawasaki, co-author of APE: How to Publish a Book, would tell you to self-publish.

“Self-publishing enables you to determine your own fate. There’s no need to endure the frustration of finding and working with a publisher.”

Not that self-publishing is easy! In fact, Guy calls it a “mystifying, frustrating and inefficient task” if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Then why bother?

Because the publishing industry is in turmoil.

Guy explains the constraints of traditional publishing—logistics and limitations of shelf space, of access to printing presses, editing, production expertise and shipping of physical books. As a result, someone has to act as a filter to decide what gets printed and what doesn’t—and it’s not pretty.

On the other hand, self-publishing is unrestricted, accessible and shelf space for ebooks is infinite. If you know what you’re doing (you can read the book to learn), self-publishing will open doors of opportunity that would otherwise remain firmly shut.

Here’s what you need to know about APE the book.

Authors’ Purpose

Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch are seasoned writers.

guy kawasaki and shawn welch

Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch, authors of APE.

Between them they have written 16 books (including APE). So when Guy decided to self-publish his previous book, What the Plus!, he was stunned at how difficult the process was. In fact, had it not been for his friend Shawn who explained the complexities of self-publishing, he would have hit a wall.

Together Guy and Shawn decided to write a book to help novice writers who are considering self-publishing. They humanize the publishing process, and remove all knowledge barriers that would otherwise make the experience traumatic.

What to Expect

ape book cover

If you’ve never written a book before, you’ll learn why you should write one, and why you shouldn’t. If you’ve never been published, you’ll figure out how to go from manuscript to book. And if you want to turn your book into a cash cow, you’ll learn how to do that too! Some other interesting things you will learn are:

  • How to write your book
  • How to avoid that “self-published look”
  • How to price your book
  • How to sell your book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others
  • How to share your book on social media
  • And much more!


APE is about empowering people who want to write their own book without giving up control to a publisher. To do this, you have to become an author, a publisher and an entrepreneur (APE). Here’s a glimpse of what that looks like:

#1: Author

Before you write a book, ask yourself, “What am I trying to achieve?” Most people write books for the wrong reasons—to make money, to become a thought leader or because “everyone says I have a good story.” How typical. Why not take four and half minutes to check out this video and see if you’re a “typical author” (featuring Siri!).

A good writer seeks to enrich people’s lives; for example, to entertain, provide knowledge, promote understanding, further a cause and so on. If it has to be about your personal goals, let it be because you want to master a new skill. This way if no one reads your book, at least you went out on a limb, took on an intellectual challenge and learned something new.

Being an author is a marathon. Guy’s advice is to postpone self-criticism because if you’re too harsh on yourself at the start of the writing process, chances are you might convince yourself that your book isn’t good enough to finish.

#2: Publisher

A high-quality book needs extensive testing and copy editing. You don’t need a traditional publisher to do these tasks, but you cannot eliminate them either. Here’s a cost estimate for publishing a 300-page book:

cost estimate

Your distribution channel depends on the type of book you want to publish.

Remember, your goal is to produce a book that reads, looks and feels like any book from a major publisher. So don’t try to take shortcuts. However, you can get great feedback and save some money by following these tips:

  • Editing. Get your family, friends, co-workers or niche online communities to copyedit your manuscript. You can also do a Facebook Graph search of ‘self publishing’ to find people or groups that can help you. Other sites to check out for editing help are Review Fuse,, Critters Workshop and Critique Circle.
  • Appearance is everything! People will judge your book by its cover. An attractive cover shows your professionalism and increases the marketability of your book. To avoid that sloppy “self-published look,” refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for numerous tips on grammar, style and presentation.

Distribution is another key process in book publishing. There are four ways to distribute your book: Online book resellers, direct sales, author-services companies and print-on-demand. Here’s a decision matrix to help clarify your distribution channel options:

distribution channel

Even with self-publishing you still need to outsource some essential tasks.

Bonus tip: If you’re not interested in mass distribution and just want to print a couple of book copies to give away to family and friends, you can use the Espresso Book Machine, a print on demand (POD) machine that prints, collates, covers and binds your book in about five minutes!

#3: Entrepreneur

Usually “entrepreneuring” is the hardest and most neglected of APE’s three roles because many authors don’t understand marketing. (Side note: For Social Media Examiner readers, this should be a walk in the park!)

young entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, you should market your book for as long as people want to buy it. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Your job is to turn the book project into a marketable product that people will want to buy. First you have to understand how people discover new books:

  • Friends and peers tell them about it
  • They read about it on blogs or websites
  • Amazon suggests it to them
  • They Googled a term and your book showed up in the results
  • They searched for an item on Amazon and your book showed up in the results

When they’ve found your book, people look at the star rating and the user reviews. Then they decide whether or not to buy it. So here are some tips to “guerilla-market” your book:

  • Use all your online and offline contacts and connections and offer a PDF version of the book to anyone who is willing to review it. (Cost: $0)
  • Use Google+ Hangouts on Air to broadcast your book and give it away. (Cost: $0)
  • Catalyze user reviews on Amazon within 48 hours of when your book ships—ask your social media connections and the people who wrote a blurb on your book. Also don’t forget to contact Amazon’s Top Reviewers as well. (Cost: $0)
  • Make it easy for others to review your book by putting all background material (e.g., author’s bio, picture, book cover image, book specs, blurbs, etc.) in one place such as a landing page on your website. (Cost: $0)

Remember your activities as an author don’t end when your book is published. You should market your book for as long as people want to buy it.

Personal Impressions

Having read some of his other books, I know how passionate Guy gets about a subject he loves. Likewise this book is seasoned with his enchanting, humorous personality (he writes most of the book, by the way).

But what struck me about APE is how honest and pragmatic it is. It’s remarkable to see how he exposes the very publishing model that made him a New York Times bestseller! Though even as a self-publishing advocate, he cautions that ebooks make up only 10% of total book sales in the U.S.—one of the huge doses of reality in this book.

So here’s the good news. If you’re aspiring to become a published author, APE’s message is that you don’t need a publisher to get your story out. It’s a great time to be a writer and this time around, the system is rigged in your favor. Why not pick up the book and get started on your self-publishing adventure!

Social Media Examiner gives this excellent book a 5.0 star rating.

Your Turn. What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Please share in the comment box below.

Image from iStockPhoto.
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  • $44796859

    Thanks for such a comprehensive review and some brilliant tips, Patricia. I have to agree with your closing sentiment, as I have been lucky enough to publish a successful book about social media to Kindle. In March, it celebrated a year on sale, and this month its sales surpassed 10,000 copies 🙂 If you have something that people will love to read just hovering around in your brain, I would definitely recommend self-publishing.

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much for sharing your awesome self-publishing adventure Andrew! Hopefully more people can ‘catch the wave’ and I think this book can help them do just that!

  • Awesome post Patricia! I find the digital age filled with a lot of opportunities for enterprising people who dream of making it big! We just need to be equipped with the right know-how to make it easier for us. Thanks SME for all the useful tips and advice! Guy Kawasaki rocks!

    Just arrived in San Diego! Can’t wait for SMMW13!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • This is a great article and I am tempted to purchase this book should I get past the 1 boundary that has completely stopped me from writing a book I had planned and began outlining. Perhaps Guy isn’t going to have time to read and respond to a comment on here, so perhaps you may be able to advise me, Patricia?

    The boundary that I cannot get past is the trademarks/legalities. And I’ve not found any help on Google with it either. If I was to mention trademarks/brand names/celebrities etc. do I need their approval to include them in my book? My book was to be about soccer, specifically focusing on and mentioning the “English Premier League” ™, David Beckham etc.

    Can I really self-publish a book mentioning these trademarks without their consent?!? If so, I assume this works the sames for brands and quotes from movies?

    I am not expecting my query to be resolved, but thanks for publishing the inspiring article anyway 🙂


  • Shaun

    Has the author of this article ever written a book and is it currently published?

  • Guy Kawasaki

    You mean just to mention their names? Like saying “David Beckham” without getting permission? Hard to imagine that you need permission. Think of the thousands of articles about him. Do you think every publication asked for permission to print his name?

  • Guy Kawasaki

    Holy Kaw Patricia this made my day. Week. Month. Maybe year. Thanks so much. Will you be in San Diego?

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome Guy and yes I will – I’ll look for you 😉

  • predsicker

    No she has not.

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much John – looking forward to meeting you in San Diego!

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  • This post was really helpful. I have a book that I am getting ready to self-publish by the end of May. Several people have read it and said it was very inspiring and helpful. Now the biggest thing is marketing it. I will check out the book. Keep writing great stuff.

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  • Usesbigwords

    Great post Patricia, I will be sharing it with my writer friends 🙂

  • usesbigwords

    I would agree with you on this one, Guy. If the book is from a the perspective of a fictional fan or player hoping to break into the EPL, and the real teams and players are just backdrop – like going to a game and describing the action, arguing with mates about who they think is the best player, using historical results to give the book a timeline – then why would there be copywriting issues? This problem would be if the author hijacked a real player or manager as an interactive character and wrote from their point of view.

  • Excellent post, thanks very much! Published my satirical crime thriller Cut Limbo in December on a soft launch, Kindle version out now unofficially, this post will help my BIG launch in May. Thanks very much, best regards Peter. I’ll add this to StumbleUpon & Tweet too!

  • Bill

    18 years ago I started to self-publish a newspaper – actually a tabloid newspaper – from our house. Wrote the articles, designed the format, sold advertising and took the pictures.

    And broke even on production and distribution costs with first issue.

    Surprisingly, you can do this with minimum computer skills and from your house.

    I do use an outside printer – and there are many web printers available – and you would be amazed how inexpensive web printing on newsprint is.

    The postal cost can also be surprisingly low if you use saturation printing which I do.

    Today we are still in business – we have original advertisers from 18 years ago in every issue.
    Would a book on how I did this and advice – make a good self-publishing project.

  • I always enjoy your thorough and honest book reviews, Patricia!

    This is perfectly APE “Together Guy and Shawn decided to write a book to help novice writers who are considering self-publishing. They humanize the publishing process, and remove all knowledge barriers that would otherwise make the experience traumatic.”

    I’m looking forward to meeting you in San Diego and hopefully getting a chance to chat.

  • Perfectly timed article as I meet with my co-author again next week. Thank you Patricia and thank you Guy and Shawn.

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading Sara 🙂

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much for your kind comments Peg!! I’m excited to meet you too.

  • predsicker

    So glad you liked it Bernard! All the very best with your book project – let us know how things worked out for you 🙂

  • Thanks for this! I am overhwelmed by the thought of self publishing and look forward to taking from his wealth of knowledge!

  • Madison

    I am interested in writing a children’s picture book. I would think this may take less time tto write, but what about finding/hiring an illustrator/artist? Any different advice or suggestions writing for a children’s book?

  • Great article Patricia!

    ~Kitty A Smith

  • Thumbs up, I have never seen the knowledge which you shown in the post absolutely very attractive post for everyone which is related to the job, recently my friend Neni told me about this but I did not consider it seriousely.

  • Found this article full of great advice and really inspiring, I’m co writing a book with my friend Ben Kinnaird at the moment, its being edited by his wife. Hoping we can help as many as 10,000 people like Andrew has that would be great.

    Our vision is to answer all the questions marketing managers and execs have to make their job easier and get great results. Do you think there’s a need out there?

  • Thank you for your replies. My book was not going to be fictional nor just referencing them though, but talking about Premier League stories etc. So David Beckham’s goal from the half-way line, his red card in World Cup 98 etc. etc. Historical results as you mention would also be in there.

    Guy, you’re right, there’s hundreds of articles about him. I always imagined newspapers had some special rights to talk about him, publish photos oh him etc. Whereas blogs who mention him aren’t using his name on the Premier League’s name for commercial reasons they don’t need the “rights”.

    I’ve ordered your book – perhaps this time next year I will be a #1 seller 🙂

  • rhonda

    Great article, very informative. Thank you. Regards, Rhonda Knisley

  • Guy Kawasaki

    I’ll be the one who looks like Jackie Chan…

  • Guy Kawasaki

    Remember me when you’re rich and famous!

  • Guy Kawasaki

    What is your shirt size? I have APE wear for you.

  • charlottebabb

    Having a book published with an indie publisher, I’ve decided I’d rather have some control of my marketing, pricing and other factors of my fiction. I have the tech skills, so there’s no reason not to self-publish. Many indie publishers do no advances, so you might as well do the work yourself and pay yourself.

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  • Let’s not forget the opportunity to self publish your book in digital format to start with to get the ball rolling and a little income coming in. So many indie writers have started this way before even considering going to a mainstream hard copy book. It’s a great way to test the water… You can always rework and re-edit your book based on the feedback you get from your initial digital sales.

  • Hilda :)

    Self-Publishing is easy for me. he most difficult is how to market your book and book sales. 🙁

  • I have self published 3 books now. It’s a terrific way to position yourself as an expert in your market. Fortunately I was able to get mine published, edited, designed, etc. for far less than $300. It took some work, but now that’s what I do.

  • Linda

    I’m interested to know the answer to your question? Any response?

  • Vic Williams

    Excellent post Patricia. As an author about to self-publish I have had to think through many of these things.

  • Patricia,

    Great article! The last part is the hardest for most people trying to sell their books, homemade products, etc. Most people do not like to hear “No” and shy away from promoting themselves. When it comes to a book, it is not egotistical to sell yourself and what you have written.

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  • Ciara L.

    I’m just 12, but every adult I let read my stories say I have a natural gift at writing! I put hard work and time in my stories, and I seeing them get wasted, to not be read by many people around the world! I want to start a author path for me! I think this would be a great chance to show the world what I can prove. I want to publish a story I’ve been working on by next year (2014), but I’m not sure how I can get it publish… And I wonder ” Does it cost money? ” I really don’t know, mind helping me out?

  • tia

    can you help me how can I publish such nursery books?

  • Lisa J Harris

    Thank you for sharing some much needed information. I still feel overwhelmed but I also must do what I am lead to do by God. I will be using your step by step approach to self publishing. I will also purchase your book for more information. Thank you so much!

  • DjKoolaide Mix

    I would recommend purchasing the book mentioned above. It’s only $10 and it’s more than worth it for the wealth of information that is given. Use that information to get you going… and keep pushing!! It’s an easy thing to start but can be quite a job to finish. When there comes a point that you need money to support your cause, you can always start a fundraiser. I think people will be impressed by your ambition and talent for your age, which can lead them want to a contribution to your cause 😉

  • Blake Russell

    you can not “make them buy” if they are actually interested they will buy it. I have bought it and thought it to be good

  • This is very important for any body who are like to write. But if you want to good sell marketing must needed. You find a good idea on online marketing here. ..