Guy Kawasaki is at the podium at BookExpo America. Here we go…
Guy Kawasaki wanted sale of 500 eBook copies of Enchantment. Penguin couldn’t handle it. Apple said buy 500 gift cards, scratch off the code.. There was no requirement they would by the book. Had to buy 500 copies one at a time on her American Express card. Around that same time I fell in love with Google+ . Macintosh was better, used by fewer people, experts say it will die. Same with Google+.
Decided to self-publish the Google+ book. Guy thought it would be easy. If you have something that’s a nonfiction book with pictures and lists it’s a nontrivial task to get from Word to Kindle, Nook, and Apple. I went on social media sites and asked how to do this. ePub, mobi, pdf – all this kind of stuff is happening. One day this light appeared on the horizon – Shawn Welch. Just go from Word to all these platforms. He said send me the Word file, 10 minutes later he sent me screen shot of it on his Kindle tablet.
Being from Macintosh division. As Steve Jobs would say, “Surely there must be a better way.” I decided to publish a book about the process of publishing a book. I love things in three. I wanted a word that started early in the alphabet. When they sort by title.. That became APE: Author Publisher Entrepreneur. That produced this book. (We all have Enthrill cards at our seats worth a free copy of the book, which retails for $9.99)
I gave 5,000 codes away of Google+ eBook to Samsung. If you mentioned that to a traditional publisher, they would have an aneurism.
Publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing takes about 179 days less time than traditional route.
Another advantage is royalty. APE sells for $9.99 and we make $7. Paperback version $16.50 street price, costs $5.60 on CreateSpace. “These are good numbers.”
Cons of self-publishing – there is no advance. There are only two kinds of authors. One wants a big advance. The other is a liar.
Would I ever return to traditional publishing? Sure. For a $2 million advance, give me a crappy cover and try to modify my content. I can’t be bought, but I can be rented. Most advances are $10,000 or so. There are a lot better ways to earn $10,000 than spending six months sucking up to traditional publishers [scattered applause].
Second con: there are other costs you have to pay.
Third: It’s lonely being a self-publisher. Your editor is your psychiatrist, will beat you up when you’re slacking, comfort you. You don’t have that as a self-published author. You have to self-medicate.
Top 10 tips to publish a book:
Tech speakers pretty much suck as speakers and they go long. If you suck and you go short, that’s okay. That’s like being stupid and arrogant.
1. Novice authors write for wrong reason. To make money. The odds are low, either self or traditional published. Also for pro artist or anything else. At least you will know for sure. It will get to market. You will have a shot. As opposed to someone in NYC stopped you. Also, getting famous – not good odds. Or, position company as thought leader. CEO dictates it in limo rides.
Right reason to write a book: You have something to say. You see all these books by Gladwell and others. Why should your book exist among them. Only because you want to enrich people’s lives. Second reason, to further a cause, like Silent Spring. Third is, to meet an intellectual challenge, one of the purest reasons.
If you write a book for the right reasons, you might make money etc.
Tip 2. Use the right tools. Use Microsoft Word. It’s a bazooka that the rest of the industry uses. A lot of people will have to depend on the file you send them. Everyone has standardized on Word. This is not a battle you should fight. There are all sorts of others. They promise you can save as Word. “Let me tell you, not even Microsoft Word can save as Word.” The day before your MS is do you’re going to save as Word, and your editor will call up saying problems.
Adobe InDesign – best tool as a hub to online resellers. Deploy to ePub, mobi etc.
Evernote is a brilliant piece of software. Get ideas in there. It is a beautiful thing. I use it for everything. I advise Evernote, so I’m conflicted. It is the OCD person’s dream application. Can scan things in. You can search what was scanned from a business card.
DropBox. The closer you are to the deadline, the more likely it is that your laptop will be stolen. You always have a backup in the sky.
YouSendIt – Our manuscripts tend to be 10-20 MB. When you send that, some email servers reject it. You can set time limit, sending to 25 friends. Make sure they are reading current version. Very useful. Also you can sell in bulk. Set it for 5,000 downloads of this file in 90 days.
Tip 3: Write every day. You take your $2 million advance from your NYC publisher and you buy a beach house. You sit there, kids don’t need anything, house is clean, and NOW you’re going to start writing it on parchment paper made by Tibetan monks, with a Montblanc pen. Thoughts flow out of your brain. Then you send it to NY and your agent drops everything, who turns off her Blackberry because agents in NY still don’t have iPhones. She says I’ve never had a perfect manuscript till today. If that’s your concept of writing you should just leave right now.
“For me, writing is like vomiting.” I try to vomit as much as I can, until dry heaves. Spend 6-9 months removing the undigested pieces of food until just pure nutrients are left. That’s what writing is like. [applause]
Every day you need to hug children, floss – what if you become rich and have lousy teeth – and you have to write EVERY DAY. It doesn’t matter if its Christmas or Yom Kippur.
Tip 4: you give traditional publisher 90 percent of gross because of their big marketing power. First question will be how big is your social marketing platform? They know Oprah. Right. You need to build your own marketing platform.
NPR wonderful source of great content. Wait Wait Don’t Tell me – a highlight of my life, being a guest. They provide great stuff 365 days a year. Every once in a while they hit you with a telethon. Nobody likes listening. Nobody cares about the hand-crank radio. We don’t care if there’s a challenge for next $1K. We love your content, so we donate. That’s the model. You are positioning yourself as curator, not a creator, of content and blast it out through Google + Twitter etc. You become a sector expert.
Example: If you are a SciFi writer and you read on CNet that there is a new ray gun, you tweet it out. If you write about WWII, you tweet a link to YouTube that applies. You are establishing yourself as an expert.
You build good karma and then, god bless you, run your telethon when your book comes out. You say, I have written this book, the least you can do is buy it. The NPR model.
Tip 5 – Amazon is 80-85 of the action. If you can make it with Kindle, you’ve got it made. Adding it to Barnes & Noble, etc won’t make up for it. For everyone you make a profile etc. You want critical mass. I would rather be high ranked on Kindle. Signed up for KDP Select program, got to be a Kindle Daily Deal. My experience with Amazon has been flawless. 24 hours to publish. CreateSpace – approved proofs on Christmas, had a physical proof on 12/27. When we change files, we see turnarounds in 8 hours. We are really happy campers with Amazon.
Guy’s Amazon homage to Amazon is greeted with silence. Bold move on his part, given this crowd.
Tip 6 – use the crowd to shape the book. Uses Google Docs to see suggestions readers make. 250 followers got full manuscript. 60 sent back corrections. There were 1,000 suggestions. It really improved the book. Not just typos – facts, ideas.
Example: needed an example of a book written for intellectual challenge. You can’t enter that in Google. Someone in crowd recommended Gadsby – not one word has letter E in it. That is an example of an intellectual challenge. Its in APE because of that suggestion.
When final copy ready, sends out invite to bloggers. Never looked at the blog info. Just wanted to make them make a moral decision to lie to me if they were just trying to steal the book. Sent out 1,000 copies. Imagine telling your traditional publisher this. “They would have the third aneurism.” It probably doubled the quality of APE.
1500 people feel a part of APE. Enables a lot of reviews on Amazon. APE shipped on 12/10. Sent everyone email saying they can post reviews as of midnight. I said it would be very helpful if you review. I wake up at 8 the next morning and there are 60 reviews. Some of the people at Amazon were freaked out, how can this be? It helps that you have a reputation that it’s real. Amazon now knows it can be done this way. Now: 490 reviews. Only 405 are five stars. It’s a good book. We created a community. Six months. [applause]
We trusted people with the PDF, the Word file. My mother always told me if you can’t do something about it, don’t worry about it. DRM doesn’t stop pirates and it hurts the customer.
Tip 7 – Copyedit. 10 close friends proofread and 60 testers. Sent it to copyeditor. Expected them to say there are no errors. I never got that email. Copyeditor found fourteen-frickin-hundred errors. I was just amazed. Point is: hire a copy editor.
Tip 8 – hire a cover designer. In online dating there is eHarmony with many fields of compatibility. You’re finding your soulmate. You’re going to coauthor a book using the same fountain pen. The other side is Hot or Not. That’s what cover design is like. People are going to look at the name, the author, the number of stars. Used to be publisher’s name showed quality. Proxy for quality on Amazon is the cover and number of stars. You need to have a great cover design.
Writerly is a company – marketplace for design.
Tip 9 – test your eBook. If you upload for Kindle it should work everywhere else is wrong. Works fine everywhere except for Cloud Reader on Kindle. You don’t need to buy every tablet, but you need to test on other devices. Focus on Amazon. Hard enough to do one well.
Tip 10 – don’t give up.If you get rejected and you don’t try yourself you will never know. How do we prevent bozosity – rejections. You build up resistance to it when you encounter it in traditional industry. Rejections quoted to Stephen King, On the Road. It is impossible to sell animal stories – to George Orwell for Animal Farm.
Tip 11 (a bonus) – artisanal publishing Hall of Fame. Hard to get people to change connotation of self-publishing. An artisanal baker, brewer, or winemaker. Who would say, you’re a loser to them? The reason you’re artisanal is you couldn’t get a job for Twinkies or Gallo. Why would you do it to a writer. We need to become artisanal publishers as opposed to self-publishers.
A man with ALS lasted much longer than usual. Charlie Wiedermeyer. You need your one story. James Audubon, Walt Whitman self published. Just mention Birds of America, Leaves of Grass or 50 Shades of Grey.
Cites If you Want to Wrige by Brenda Ueland. I never thought of myself as writer, and it empowers you. It says if you want to write, don’t listen to anyone, just write. This book changed your life.
eBook copy card has scratch card code, from Enthrill. I travel, I make appearances. How do you get books to a signing. You take 50 or 60 books and hope you sell them all. A lot of trouble, how do you get them back. This is a beautiful solution. You can sign the card. It’s in your roll-on luggage. Life is good. You can run a promo – buy my book and give them the card. You want to give everyone a copy of the book. You all have the book now. Some of you might have bought the book. I can deal with that.
There are 100 copies of physical copy of the book outside the room, a gift from CreateSpace and Amazon.
bit.ly/apecommunity is a Google Plus group.
That’s it from the inimitable Guy Kawasaki. To hear the interview I recorded with him last month in Denver, click here.