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Review of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur December 11, 2012

Posted by Jason in Writing.
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Though Guy Kawasaki is a tech celebrity in his own right, he freely admits that there is always something to learn.  Even so, I was surprised that his previous book, What the Plus!, was his first self-published work.  Based on his experience, especially compared to those of his past conventionally-published books, he has written with co-author Shawn Welch APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book.

APE is structured as a how-to guide and reference book, and packed with a great deal of information.  You can read the Author section any time for inspiration, and the Publisher and Entrepreneur sections for a dose of realism if you decide to really get serious about going out on your own.  If you do, you’ll have it bookmarked at your right hand as you navigate the maze of editing, distribution, and ISBNs.

If you are already an aspiring author, you will have picked up much of the Author content in other places.  It’s always nice to have everything assembled together however, and APE does a good job of keeping your head out of the clouds.  Author covers the basics, including word processing tools, background of ebooks, and a great piece on the writing process.  It’s also some of the more timeless advice, as the act of sitting down to write hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.  What author hasn’t wondered why he’s continuing to abuse himself to produce his work of art?

Similarly, the third section, Entrepreneur, focuses on marketing your new book.  Normally, a publicist handles the promotion for the author, who must then attend the book signings and conferences.  When you’re on your own, marketing is one of the hardest parts of any business, unless you are in fact a marketer.  Social media is Guy Kawasaki’s milieu, so it’s no surprise that he spends most of this section emphasizing the where, how, and why of establishing your online presence using Google+, Facebook, and several lesser-known sites.  Again, much of the material can be scavenged from countless online sources, but Guy puts it all together and adds his personal insights about what works and what doesn’t.

This being a book about self-publishing, Publisher is the thickest of the three sections and digs in where many other sources go home.  Though this will come at the cost of somewhat out-of-date material if you pick up the book in a couple of years, the concepts will be valid and there is some great guidance for anyone not already a part of the publishing community.

Guy Kawasaki

Publisher has great tips on editing, formatting, and converting your book for the various distributors like Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Google.  They all have different formatting and DRM options, and you will need to consider the differences between ebooks and printed versions.  Alternatively, you can sell ebooks directly to your customers, or use author-services companies, which provide copyediting, design, and distribution assistance.  There are also print-on-demand services that allow for small volumes of books that you can use for promotions, personalized copies, or just family and friends (to show that you really are a successful author).

Shawn Welch

If you’re considering writing a book – even if you go the conventional route – APE is a valuable reference.  It provides you with good insights into the publishing world and has some important cautions for any author.  Most of all, it’s inspiring to know that you can take on a challenge like this.  Despite the term “self-publishing”, it’s not a one-person endeavor.  APE shows you how to find the help that you’ll need to get your book out into the light of day.

You can find the book (ISBN 978-0-9885231-1-1) as a $9.99 ebook at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AGFU5VS or visit the website, http://apethebook.com/

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

I Am Not a Dentist November 15, 2011

Posted by Jason in Management.
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I am not a dentist.

I have never had any desire to enter the medical field, and am not particularly interested in the masticatory system.

So it remains a mystery what possessed me to pick up a book written by a dentist for other dentists – one that I found in, of all places, a small thrift store on the coast of Queensland, Australia. A full third of the content is technical. I had no idea what occlusion, facebow, or medial pterygoid mean – and after reading the book, I still don’t.

But “The Art of the Examination” by Barry Polansky wasn’t intended to teach dentistry. I suppose the author gave little thought to how his zen-like approach to dentistry could apply to so many other areas of life and business – but I suspect he probably secretly does, much to his credit. In particular, as I’ve discussed several times in this space and in my Civil Connection column, there are more than a few similarities between engineering, law, and medicine. Each is a profession that depends much more on trust as it relates to public welfare. And in each case, our clients depend on our expertise to meet their very personal goals.

Every chapter has several practical insights designed to build the relationship between professional and client. Polansky’s unique approach is intended to seek out and then systematically work toward the patient’s individual needs. Even if services were free, there is still a great deal of pain and adjustment required to change our behavior – quite common in, for example, the management consulting world. The client’s commitment to stick with it to the end is dependent directly on whether he or she sincerely believes that we can arrive there together.

One piece of advice summarizes the book: always consider the patient’s personal circumstances. It doesn’t matter how good we might be at arguing a case, designing a particular structure, or filling a tooth. We must first ask why the patient has arrived in our chair at all. Pain? Broken tooth? Discoloration? What problem are we being asked to solve, and is it the right one?

If we jump into a project with our “hammer” of a solution, we may find that we have the wrong tool for the wrong job – and a damaged client at the end.

Find more of Dr. Polansky’s work on his website here: http://taoofdentistry.com/blog/about/