Last year, Guy Kawasaki was preparing to speak at an annual conference. He had just published his ninth book, and contacted Penguin Publishing to fulfill 500 digital orders of Enchantment. The publisher, to his dismay, said that they could not fulfill the order. He was slightly upset.
As disgruntled anchorman Howard Beale said in the film Network, many authors are mad as hell, and they are not going to take it anymore.
Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch channeled their anger in a positive way by launching APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. This resource not only dispels the mystery and mechanics of self-publishing, it also provides two other benefits: it demonstrates how entrepreneurial authors can turn misfortune (stonewalling from traditional publishers) into an advantage, and teaches marketing leaders how to spread good content across untapped channels.
Any marketing leader who takes content marketing and innovation seriously must add this book to their required reading list. Here's why:
1. Owning more pieces of the value chain has benefits. Kawasaki asserts that "publishers are in a period of doom and gloom. Large, once proudly independent publishers such as Random House and Penguin are clinging together." O'Reilly Media, however, is taking a different tack. They allow readers to download books in as many formats as they wish, across all devices, and sell directly to customers. It's an author's and bibliophage's dream.
2. Take a calculated risk with "rising stars." Many established publishers are eschewing fresh talent because they are not proven. In publishing vernacular, that means a business author who has not previously sold at least 10,000 copies of their book. Lisa Earle McLeod, author of Selling with Noble Purpose, fits this description. She persuaded Wiley to publish her book—even though her previous book did not sell 10,000 copies. The bet paid off. Selling with Noble Purpose reached #2 on CEO Read's business seller list, and was a top 10 Amazon seller in the category.
3. Become familiar with your product development process. Kawasaki's book is brilliant because it decodes the publishing process into discrete functions: agents, editors, editorial assistants, copyeditors (an essential, evergreen function), designers, and publicists.In the digital publishing world, the need for an agent or publicist has diminished. New roles have emerged, such as author distribution services. In exchange for a percentage of the book retail price, Lulu, Blurb, and Author Solutions can reduce the stress of doing these functions alone.
4. Life's a pitch. Get comfortable with it. APE provides a powerful list of bloggers, authors, and thought leaders to help you promote your book. IndieReader.com, for example, forged an alliance with USAToday and HuffingtonPost. You can submit your book to their IndieReader Discovery Awards contest and be virtually guaranteed your book will be reviewed. NetGalley's $399 subscription promises you six months of fame among 85,000 bloggers and book reviewers.
5. Establish and disseminate your own industry vernacular. APE contains a glossary of every publishing term you will ever need to know. I now consider APE's co-authors the leading resource on all things digital publishing.
In my opinion, APE is required reading for content marketers and marketing leaders, even if you cling to traditional publishing. If you want to be King Kong in your field, and think more like an entrepreneur, it's time to grab a copy.
[Image: Flickr user Joey Yee]