Self-Publishing for Dummies: A review of Guy Kawaski and Shawn Welch’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book


(picture of book cover courtesy of

If you are an aspiring writer first off, stop aspiring and start writing. Secondly, go get APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch.

From what mountaintop do I begin to sing my praise? The hills are alive with the sound of “artisanal publishing” and the hope of being a writer in an industry controlled by the artist (referring to myself as an artist seems conceited but for this purpose, I guess it’s okay) rather than the people in suits.

Thanks to the Almighty Internet the simplicity to create a (insert your niche) start-up becomes easier by the day. In my case and perhaps yours it’s becoming a writer in an industry that was hard to break into even before print started to take a dive. A slower dive than one might think but any former bookshop owner or employee (5 years with Border’s Book for me) will tell you print has definitely seen it heyday.

The invention of eBooks and the eReaders they illuminate made it harder for new talent to be picked up by a traditional publishing house. Behemoth businesses that have been pumping out literature for well over a century still run the game to this day and keeping up with today’s constantly changing technology caused these powerhouses to become even pickier than before when it came to what they deem worthy of ink, paper, and publicity.

Ironically, the same technology that at first gave bookstores, print books lovers, and these publishers a scare is now putting the power back in the hands of the writer. Today literally anyone can write a book and sell it on Amazon or similar platforms and it happens. APE gives you all of the tools needed to do this.

Personally after recently deciding to suck up my fears and put myself and words out there, the idea of being able to use this viable avenue to get a toehold in the industry allows me to un-pucker a little bit.

There are plenty of resources out there you can utilize to learn the ins and outs of self-publishing and I recommend, as do the authors of APE, to be a sponge when it comes to this topic. With so many to choose from I think a great place to start is with Kawasaki and Welch’s book.

Self-publishing is not the amateurish endeavor it once was considered to be and with a solid writing work ethic applied to the publishing and publicizing or “entrepreneuring” end of things one can create legitimate publications worthy of digital and wooden shelves alike.

I was skeptical because I’m not exactly a fan of “manual” type books and worried I’d quickly become bored. I mean it’s got a glossary (which turns out to be super helpful.) However, Guy and Shawn deliver a page-turner that only got me more excited to get to the point when I can put their steps into motion. The Publisher section did lose my attention slightly when they spoke about the types of different eBook files, uploading the files, converting the files, and mostly anything to do with files.

For someone who is not tech savvy, like me, this section can be rough to get through but the most important part of the book and should not be avoided. Arguably, it most likely is something that just needs to be skimmed over once and then used as reference when ready to act.

This last point the authors specifically mention in the beginning of the book. They recommend you, “blast through APE the first time to see the big picture.” I will admit I borrowed my copy from the library because, well, I’m poor and I’m trying to be a writer so I’ll probably remain poor for a while. However, once I am ready to begin the process of publishing I will be purchasing my very own hardcopy to put on the shelf next to my recently purchased copy of The Chicago Manual of Style (a consistent recommendation of APE.)

I will probably buy an eBook version also as they mention frequently, one of the beauties of eBooks, especially one of this style, is they can be edited and updated pretty much anytime it’s necessary so you can stay up-to-date on changing trends in the self-publishing world. Released in 2013, the print version of APE is dated already but the authors promise to revise eBook versions when needed.

The book is divided in three sections addressing the A. P. and E. of APE. The first section, Author, is the shortest and briefly addresses the process of writing, as I’m sure they assume the reader wants to be a published author and must already know how to write somewhat. It also gives information on traditional and self-publishing as well as traditional and e[Books].

The meat of the book lies in the Publisher section with everything from editing, distribution, files (as I mentioned before), eBook and print options, ISBNs, cover-art, avoiding the “self-published look”, and other issues that can arise.

Finally and perhaps the scariest for many writers is the Entrepreneur section, just a few pages longer than the Author portion. It does not delve into how to master a publicist’s job but rather how to be your own using the magic of social media. Book tours are mainly a thing of the past and as a self-publisher it would not be realistic to go this route. Reaching your audience through social media has become the biggest thing since sliced bread bought on Amazon Pantry. Any entrepreneur, business, artist, athlete, butcher, baker, or candlestick maker that isn’t on social media in today’s world is not pursuing success in their niche properly.

An amazing feature with the book is a corresponding website,, that gives readers further information and tools. The experience works better with eBooks, as you simply have to click on one of the 400 available links. I usually just had my laptop open to the website and when a triple dagger symbol appeared I knew to look for an additional resource.

All and all, APE is easy to read, understand, and apply. It is not overly technical but also gives the reader plenty of information needed to carry out the necessary steps for success as a published author. It works on both levels as a cover-to-cover read and also a reference guide, due to the nature of “artisanal publishing” being a lengthy step-by-step process. I recommend an eBook format for the most updated information.

Reading this book now, early on, as I build this blog, my social media presence, my network, and continue to work on and improve my writing has given me amazing hope moving forward. Although, it will not be an easy task to wear so many hats, I welcome the challenge that lies ahead because it will be one step closer to my dream of becoming a published writer.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s