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BIBLIOGRIND

Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Self-Publishing from a Rich Ex-Guru: Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki has just self-published a book on self publishing. It has some good advice, about all the advice that you can already find from hugely varying sources, without much effort. Why is Guy’s book significant? Because he’s Guy Kawasaki.

If you don’t know Kawasaki, you probably aren’t particularly tapped into the computer/digital world. He made a name for himself as the “resident guru” to Apple Computer (before it had changed its name simply to “Apple” –– maybe that was one of Guy’s suggestions). He’s highly intelligent, personable, extremely generous with his experience and thus-ly acquired wisdom, and is a funny man, to boot.

About a year ago I read a similar article about Kawasaki’s self-publishing venture. He gave a long list of helpful hints for self-pubbers. But within these hints was also a hurdle. It was almost a caveat: to be successful in your book-marketing campaign, you should expect to pay around $10,000 to really get the word, your name, and the book’s title/cover art out to book buys. Of course, even shelling out money doesn’t mean you’ll sell more than a handful of books.

Unless, of course, your name is Guy Kawasaki.

There’s a new article about Guy on Forbes, and through the Cliffnotes highlights, I could see that Guy is capitalizing on his name and self-pubbing success. The hints, tips, and hard-edged advice are all there. Just what every writer who’s considered self-pubbing should consider before writing another word.

I had to respond:

While I appreciate Guy and Shawn’s advice, they (or at least, Guy) already has a name, and a reputation. Whereas 99% of people now writing (fiction or non-fiction) and are contemplating self-pubbing don’t have a name, reputation, or a track record behind them. Nor do they have the money to do as Guy suggests in order to “get the word out”. I read his early foray into successful self-pubbing (about a year ago?) and, basically, he said it takes a good $10,000+ to do a book up right vis-a-vis marketing plan (the number could be even higher). Now, for Guy to suggest that a no-name writer without a track record, no matter how good a book is, can get traction by simply throwing money around, is hardly helpful advice.

In fact, one of the best things a writer can still do in this mass-digital environment (with all its distractions) is to get a book reviewed. BUT… reviewers DO NOTICE THE PUBLISHING COMPANY, regardless that book buyers may not. And if the book is not from a big-name pub, and the author doesn’t have a name, the book will not be reviewed in the mainstream press.

My small press publisher (Siren & Muse) did all it could for me and my second novel (WHAT BEAUTY), as I did all I could for my own book: we put together galley letters, sent out multiple press releases (and follow-ups), sent ARCs to 45 review sites/newspapers/magazines. The result: Not one of them reviewed the book. But week in and week out, they all reviewed the same five or six books that had just come out that month—from the same 5-6 big-time publishers. Can anyone say “payoff!”?? Meanwhile, reader reviews across the different sales platforms have likened my book to “reading a classic” and other extremely flattering comments.

I absolutely agree with Guy and Shawn that self-pubbers must take their career into their own hands. That means they need to become professional book marketers as well as continue to write books. Fortunately, for the good authors writing quality books, we will not let adversity dissuade us from continuing what we’ve been working on for 10, 20, or sometimes 30 years.

Thanks for a good article.

My lament is not a bitter one. It’s merely, and lightly burned around the edges with, experience. I continue to market my book(s) and am always seeing good numbers come through the sales each month. I’d love for those to be higher. And by good, I mean … more than a handful.

Hey … where are all the readers!?

 

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What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.

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