" rel="attachment wp-att-6040Guy Kawasaki
Ebyline is taking up valuable floorspace at this year’s NMX conference in Las Vegas,

#NMX: Self-publishing tips and Apple critique from Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki
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“Writers either don’t understand marketing or detest marketing.” That’s how author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki described to a Vegas crowd of bloggers and marketers the challenge of publishing a book. As for publishers, they don’t get it. They don’t get marketing, their primary function. They don’t get crowdsourcing or building a groundswell of buzz before release. They don’t get how an author can become an expert or develop a community around them, just how to purchase one who already has.

Harsh words, especially early in the morning, but they resonated with the NMX crowd and probably with any freelance journalist struggling with the publishing world. Kawasaki made his name chronicling, working for, criticizing and investing in Silicon Valley. His latest book, APE (for Author, Publisher, Editor) takes aim at the industry that helped him get there. Ticked off that his previous publisher couldn’t fill a simple 500-copy order, he self-published his next book, found that the marketing aspect was the big challenge and decided to publish a book on….publishing a book.

Putting out your own book used to be stigmatized as the province of the rich and vain, rejected by New York publishing houses, Kawasaki told moderator and Forbes contributor Mike Fidelman. Today he sees self-publishing the natural evolution of artisinal craftsmanship from baking to beer to books.

What can an independent author do? Kawasaki said that for APE he asked his social followers to review his book outline in Google Docs and, ultimately, to copy edit and fact-check the manuscript (some 60 out of 4,000,000 did and received credit in the book). He asked bloggers to read and review the tome before its publication, building buzz in the run-up to release.

What if you’re not Kawasaki? Even a crime novelist, he says, needs to become an expert or develop a niche—the go-to source for forensics articles and stories, for example. Build a user base. When your book comes out they’ll become your fan base.

“We live in just a great time for an author to build a platform,” Kawasaki said. Publishers, instead of building platforms for their authors, “now they say we want to see how you market your book then we’ll acquire you.”

A former Apple fellow and evangelist, Kawasaki had some unkind words for the Cupertino giant, lambasting Apple for its attitude towards customers. “I truly do love Apple but, shall I say, I don’t agree with some stuff they’ve done.” In particular, tweaking devices to render older models obsolete and produce the regular stampedes to Apple stores that are a favorite of newspaper photographers, stores where Kawasaki says he “Stand[s] in line and pay[s] retail like every other shmo.”

What’s in his pocket? A Nexus 7 tablet. A Samsung Galaxy.

“Real men use Android, let’s face it.”




About Peter C. Beller

Peter C. Beller is director of content at Ebyline. He was previously a staff writer for Forbes and has freelanced for numerous publications. He can be reached at