Anyone who's ever dreamt of becoming a published author should take time to read APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book.
APE is the brainchild of Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch and presents to interested writers the ins and outs of self-publishing (the book's title is a nod to another book on the subject by Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath called Be the Monkey). There's no denying that the publishing industry is at an inflection point, what with the availability of technologies that make blogs, e-books and print-on-demand possible. As such, it is easier than ever for writers to get published, especially for those who want to do it themselves. However, "easier" should not be misconstrued as "automatic" or "painless"; indeed, for those who intend to self-publish, a lot of effort has to be exerted to understand these new technologies (and new distribution channels) and put them to good use. It is precisely in this area that Kawasaki and Welch hope to be of help through APE.
There are really two central takeaways offered in APE. The first, as the title suggests, is that to succeed at self-publishing an aspiring writer must adopt the mindset of an author, publisher, and entrepreneur. In short, writing something worth reading isn't sufficient to be successful; anyone that aims to self-publish must also know how to package a quality book as well as manage the marketing and distribution channels that allow the book to sell. On this note, Kawasaki and Welch offer copious information to help readers navigate the narrows required to succeed at each role.
But a more important takeaway is this: the tools available to authors today mean that self-publishing is a viable alternative for quality work, especially for those who adopt the mindset of author, publisher, and entrepreneur. Hence, we should all think about self-publishing as artisanal publishing more than anything else.
Objectively, the information provided in APE aren't guarded secrets; most, in fact, can easily be researched by anyone enterprising enough and armed with a computer and an internet connection. Yet Kawasaki and Welch have done well to put all this information together in an organized, accessible and interesting fashion. Of particular interest are fairly detailed chapters on digital publishing -- covering everything from file formats and conversion to distribution channels -- that even professionals steeped in paper-and-print publishing would do well to understand. APE is certainly a relevant book and well worth reading. If it serves as inspiration for more people to write and self-publish, that wouldn't be such a bad thing either.
[This review is based on a pre-publication proof from NetGalley.]