Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Author-Preneur – Are you Ready for it? Book review: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

“Starting your book is only the first five miles of a twenty-six mile marathon that’s one-third of a triathlon.” APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

If you’re a self-published author or are contemplating taking the plunge (for whatever reason), be prepared for the demand of being an ‘Author-Preneur.’ Actually, it’s not a bad idea to do it even if you’re traditionally published. Start switching your mind-set from, ‘I’ve got to sit down and get a chapter done today’ to ‘I’ve got to sit down and write a chapter today AND post a tweet about my progress, share a sneak preview on Facebook, take that tutorial on how to convert to ebooks, and review the cover design proposals that are sitting in my in-box.’

There are plenty of books, blogs, websites, newsletters and videos out there on how to do it all... some helpful and others not so much. One that I would highly recommend is Guy Kawasaki’s and Shawn Welch’s APE: Author, Publisher,Entrepreneur. It takes you through the entire process from sitting down and writing, to how to get the word out. It explores various publishing platforms, how to distribute (individually and in bulk) through eBook sales platforms, with tons of detail on the hows, and pros and cons of each. The authors share insights into platforms that you may never have heard of… I had ever heard of Gumroad, a platform from which to sell all your digital products.

Streamlining Your Processes with Cool Software
This book even includes recommendations on software to make your life easier and not just one, but several options so you can choose the one that fits best. For example when working on your manuscript you’ll find suggestions on book writing software from using templates in Word to Evernote and Scrivener with details on each and what worked for them. They describe Scrivener as “not so much a word processor as a ‘writer’s studio’ that is a powerful content generation tool for writers.” It’s a resource I’ve just downloaded and plan on using while writing my next novel! I’ll keep you posted!

These guys are all about sharing… they even include a link to the Word templates at apethebook.com that include all the styles they used while writing the manuscript for APE.

They recommend contracting out things like editing and design to ensure a more professional look (I totally agree). He suggests Guru, Elance and Crowdspring as well as Edit911 if you’re looking for subject matter experts. I haven’t tried these but, if Guy recommends them, they’re worth a look. I have colleagues who have successfully used Fivvr for cover design but I choose to work with a graphic designer I know and trust. His company is Creation Booth if you’re exploring options. I've talked about him on my blog before when I talked about choosing the right book cover.

Getting Down to Nitty Gritty
As you continue up the steep learning curve of the publishing business, you'll probably find some nitty gritty details that you need to consider that wouldn't have occurred to you, such as the ‘front matter’ of your book. However, once you’ve decided to self-publish, if you’ve applied some common sense you’ve probably gone to your own bookshelf and checked out what a published book typically includes. What you’ll also have noticed, is that they’re not all created equal. So, Guy uses the Chicago Manual of Style to ensure that everything that should be there is included.  The alternative is to pick one of the books on your shelf that is closest to the genre that you write, and follow their lead.

Pricing Your Book
APE does a deep dive into the six variables of how to price your book: Costs, economic conditions, brand (i.e. how strong is yours?), competition, goals and your pricing philosophy. The options on pricing strategies are endless and he gives examples of several strategies and case studies to show how they are implemented. Even additional revenue sources are explored in depth such as creating audio books and translating to other languages.

Row Row Your Boat
Rowing your own boat also means being cautious of dangers that lurk just below the surface. When choosing design and distribution partners you’ll want to make sure you retain the copyright to every format in which your book is made available and ensure you’re not getting over-charged for services. This is addressed in the chapter, Self-Publishing Issues, where Guy and Shawn give advice on how to avoid getting ‘ripped-off’.

The authors of APE are so committed to making sure that we have the latest and greatest, they will be updating the eBook every month! If you’ve already purchased a copy you simply update your version through the ‘Manage Your Kindle’ page. How cool is that?

Brand You
The ‘Entrepreneur’ section contains everything you need to manage your marketing plan from building your brand to very specific guidance on how to get reviews on Amazon. Many of what they call ‘guerilla tactics’ that are outlined are free or cost very little such as setting up your social media platform. They talk about the TLC of your brand, which is Trustworthiness, Likeability and Competence (love it!).

The references and resources are endless so get ready to take lots of notes and check out the community they have started for authors, writers, editors and publishers called APE on Google-Plus.

Hootsuite is a Good Option
One last comment before I leave... in the book there's a thorough overview of social media platforms and how to get them set up and the best way to interact on each one. One piece of misinformation that I found was where it talks about social media management platforms. Guy uses Buffer, which is great, but he states that Hootsuite isn't the best platform for authors because you can't manage your personal LinkedIn profile from there, only company pages. This is not accurate. I use Hootsuite for myself and my clients and am able to manage both the personal profiles and company pages from LinkedIn. Maybe that will be updated in the next version of APE! 

So, where are you in the APE spectrum? Have you created a brand with TLC? Feel free to share links to your author pages so we can all learn from each other.