Kathy reviews “APE: How To Publish A Book–Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur”

Disclosure: I’m entering my 13th year as a novelist, with over 20 published books as of this writing. I am both pro-traditional publishing and pro-self-publishing. My review comes from a completely neutral viewpoint. 

Interested in self-publishing? Who isn’t now days? While the book publishing industry is undergoing major–and I mean major–upheaval right now, it’s never been a better time to be an author. Anyone can publish a book, which is the main idea behind APE. Guy Kawasaki is a case in point.

Basically APE is an amalgamation of information that’s readily available on the internet–for free. Kawasaki is about a year late with his entry into the Self-Publishing Guide genre, although he’s covered by stating that the info in this book can change at any minute, and how awesome is it that he can update his book at anytime? Just one of many benefits of self-publishing.

Kawasaki writes this book with authority. He sounds like an expert, which is what good marketers and copywriters excel at. And that’s the main problem with APE: this book reads like an advert for various products and services that aid in writing and publishing your book. It’s all vague and full of bullet points, but with little meaty information. An example of this is the chapter devoted to navigating the Amazon website. Even after reading that short chapter, which is a list of what Amazon does and sells, you’ll still have to actually navigate the website. You might shave off a few minutes with the list (did you know Amazon sells wine? Kawasaki does, and now you do, too), but again, with a few clicks, you can find out what Amazon sells on your own.

There is also some misleading information. One example involves agents. Kawasaki states: “An agent’s compensation is approximately 20 percent of the royalties that the author receives.” (p. 20). This isn’t accurate. The industry standard for literary agents is 15% on home sales, 20% on foreign rights. That’s important because this standard has been in place for over a decade and will not change, especially in a climate where an agent’s role is in flux. If you find an agent charging more than 15%, run away. Since Kawasaki fudged this number, what else has he skewed toward self-pubbing?

However, this book isn’t totally useless. Well, the Author section is because you can’t condense an art and a profession down to 52 pages, I don’t care who you are. But the other sections, Publisher and Entrepreneur, are useful because of the list of links, which are clickable in e-format. That’s a nice feature. You’ll still have a ton of work to do to decide which road to self-publication is the right one for you, but at least you have a place to start.

Summary (Hat-tip to Kawasaki for this idea): This book isn’t for new writers. You won’t learn any craft here. It’s also not for writers unfamiliar with the publishing business, both traditional and self-publishing. You’ll end up being confused. This book is for anyone who wants a very general overview of self-publishing and marketing, along with a convenient list of links and websites and a glossary of terms.

APE is priced on Amazon at 9.99. Value is in the eye of the wallet holder; if you don’t want to go through the toil and trouble of finding these websites yourself, then 9.99 might not make you blink. Just be prepared to use APE as your starting point, not as an exhaustive, or even semi-exhaustive guide.

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