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June 3, 2013
By Adam Boretz
“APE sells for $9.99 as a Kindle e-book and we make $7. And that is remarkable. That is like four times traditionally published…These are good numbers.”

Guy Kawasaki explained his personal transition from traditionally published writer to indie author and provided 10 self-publishing tips in an entertaining keynote Saturday at uPublishU at the Javits Center in New York City.

A former Apple evangelist and author of 12 books—including his latest, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book—Kawasaki explained how he “hit a wall” with traditional publishing following the release of his book Enchantment.

After booking a speech, Kawasaki required that the host company purchase 500 copies of the e-book of Enchantment to give to attendees. But the book’s publisher soon informed him that it could only provide the e-books through a reseller such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

“The woman who was managing the project… tried to buy 500 copies of Enchantment from Apple,” Kawasaki said. “And after she bought 10, Apple stopped her, saying she was buying too many copies of this book.”

According to Kawasaki—who described the situation as “sheer lunacy”—Apple then instructed the woman to buy 500 gift cards for the speech’s attendees. The problem with the cards: they included no requirement that anyone actually use them buy Enchantment.

After this experience, Kawasaki self-published—he calls it “artisanal publishing”—his next book, What the Plus. The process proved more challenging than he expected, and this led him to self-publish APE—all about the “pain and trauma” of being an indie author.

And while Kawasaki may now be he a self-publishing convert, he laid out both the pros and cons of going the DIY route.

On the pro side, Kawasaki cited editorial, sales, and marketing control, quicker time to market, and increased royalties. “APE sells for $9.99 as a Kindle e-book and we make $7,” he said. “And that is remarkable. That is like four times traditionally published…These are good numbers.” The drawbacks, Kawasaki said, include no advance, increased responsibility for all aspects of the publishing process, and loneliness.

In offering up his top 10 tips for self-published authors, Kawasaki urged writers to:

  1. Write for the Right Reasons: He cited writing to enrich people’s lives, furthering a cause, or meeting an intellectual challenge.
  2. Use the Right Tools: Kawasaki suggested using Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, Evernote, Dropbox, and YouSendIt.
  3. Write Every Day
  4. Build Your Marketing Platform
  5. Start with a Kindle E-Book: “When all the dust settles, for us, Amazon is about 85 to 90 percent of the action,” Kawasaki said. “There’s all these other platforms, but if you can make it with Kindle you’ve got it made….If you make it on Kindle the rest is cream.”
  6. Tap the Crowd: With APE, Kawasaki asked his social media followers to critique his book outline, finished manuscript, and the final PDF of the book.  “It really improved the book,” he said. “The crowd really helped me…It probably doubled the quality of APE. It was truly a great experience.”
  7. Hire a Copy Editor
  8. Hire a Cover Designer
  9. Test Your E-Book: Kawasaki urged writers to test the readability of their e-book on all platforms, devices, and operating systems.
  10. Never Give Up