Monday, January 28, 2013

Considering Self-Publishing? First Take Guy Kawasaki's Advice

This article first appeared in Forbes Magazine in 2013, but it is still relevant today. Guy Kawasaki was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Mac in 1984. He has written several best-selling books. His thoughts on "artisanal publishing" and your "karmic scoreboard" are worth considering. 

What really stands out for me in this interview is his answer to "Why write a book in the first place?" Guy Kawasaki says, "If you’re writing a book simply as a means to an end – to get rich, or to get the word out about your expertise, or to attract more consulting or coaching business – forget it."

I have to agree with him. Writing a book requires a considerable investment of time and effort. Getting it published requires Herculean stamina. If you are self-publishing, you're going to have to spend hours every day promoting your book. And if you are being traditionally published, you'll have to put up with rejections, delays, and ultimately, you will spend hours every day promoting your book. All of that takes conviction. So, write if you have something to say, and then be prepared to stand behind it.   

The "I" in this article refers to Kathy Caprino, who conducted the interview.


Considering Self-Publishing? Don't Bother, Unless You Follow Guy Kawasaki's Advice

By Kathy Caprino, Contributor, Forbes Jan 21, 2013

Recently, I had the enormous pleasure of chatting with Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of, founding partner of Garage Technology Ventures, and former Chief Evangelist for Apple. Guy is the author of ten books, including Enchantment, Reality Check, and Rules for Revolutionaries. If you haven’t followed Guy’s writing and blog, you’re truly missing out. He’s utterly brilliant, wise, iconoclastic, brutally frank, and downright hilarious.

And if you’re considering self-publishing a book, make the first resource you read Guy’s new book APE: Author – Publisher – Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book, co-written by Shawn Welch.

I don’t recommend resources lightly, but as one who worked in traditional publishing for years and had my own book Breakdown, Breakthrough, published traditionally, I believe Guy’s new book is a true winner, full of practical, realistic solutions, strategies and tips for self-publishers.

In 2011 the publisher of Guy’s New York Times bestseller, Enchantment, could not fill an order for 500 ebook copies of the book. Because of this experience, Guy self-published his next book, What the Plus!: Google+For the Rest of Us, and learned first-hand that self-publishing is a complex, confusing, and idiosyncratic process. He decided to learn as much as he could about successful self-publishing, and share his knowledge with all those who want to venture into the self-publishing arena.

I asked Guy about the process of self-publishing, what he’s learned from it, and also what makes it worthwhile to write a book in the first place.

Here’s Guy’s take:

Why write a book in the first place?

If you’re writing a book simply as a means to an end – to get rich, or to get the word out about your expertise, or to attract more consulting or coaching business – forget it. Stop what you’re doing right now. If you’re thinking just about what you can get out of it, you’re probably writing a “crappy” book (Guy’s word), and your “crap” will be forever immortalized in black and white. Something you definitely don’t want.

Guy advises, “Write a book because you have something important to say. If you have a life story that inspires, or information that you believe everyone in a particular niche NEEDS to know, then do it.” But don’t just rush to get something out because you think it will enhance your career, profile, business, or bank account. You just won’t succeed with those inner motives.

(On that note, I’ve been floored by the advice I’ve heard some small business and entrepreneurial success coaches give my colleagues and clients – to just slap together a book quickly and get it out there, to make money and build their credibility. I’m with Guy – your credibility is shot if you do that, and trust me, your discerning readers can tell what you’re trying to do. And it’s important to realize that the vast majority of authors don’t make any money to speak of from their books.)

Your karmic scoreboard

Guy believes in the concept of a “karmic scoreboard” – that what you put out in the world will come back around to you. Self-publishing solely to advance yourself reduces your “karmic score.” On the other hand, being kind, generous, and helpful – being of service to others as your first goal – increases your karmic score. If your motivation is to help others with no expectations of what you’ll get in return, you’ll find that the process is also self-supportive, because when you set out to support the enrichment of others, it comes back to you tenfold.

Artisanal publishing (vs. self-publishing) – the new trend in publishing

In his book APE, Guy talks about “artisanal publishing” as a process that features writers who love their craft, and who control every aspect of the process from beginning to end. In this new approach, writers are no longer at the mercy of large, traditional publishers, and readers will have more books to read.

The self-publishing world has eradicated the filters and barriers that the traditional publishing world represented (where editors – typically male — made the judgments about content and worthiness). In the old days, the imprint of the publisher was a proxy for quality – if you were accepted by the publisher, you passed the test. Now the proxy for quality is how your book fares in terms of reviews and ratings on Amazon, and sales. Customers vote on the book’s quality or on their need to expose themselves to your material by clicking to purchase, or not clicking.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

1 comment:

  1. What a great resource Guy turned out to be. Thanks for the interview and posting. He really told it like it is about self-publsihing and the whys and why nots. Awesome.


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