BUSINESS BOOKS

Guy Kawasaki on Entrepreneurs Who Write Books

The bestselling author offers publishing advice--and insight into why his giving away his latest book for free.
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With self-publishing easier than ever before, many entrepreneurs either have written or plan to write books about their experience or their company. Last week, I had the opportunity to ask entrepreneurial uber-guru Guy Kawasaki about this trend.

What should an entrepreneur take into account when writing a book?

An entrepreneur should not write a book to promote his or her business. A book is an end in itself. It's not a means to something as insipid as more sales for a company. Also, an entrepreneur should not have time to write a book if he or she is running a company. An entrepreneur should write a book after succeeding to help the next generation learn what to do.

Despite the fact you're a bestselling author (multiple times over), you're offering your new book "Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book" for free. Why?

It's complicated--perhaps even convoluted. Since I've self-published APE, I can sell it any way that I want towards any goal that I want. By giving it away, I can learn a lot. For example, if you give away tens of thousands of the ebook version, does this convert to sales of the paperback version? Wouldn't that be an interesting data point? I'm also into "establishing standards." I'd like APE to be the "Chicago Manual of Style" for self-publishing. One must have stretch goals in life.

You've been writing business books for nearly a quarter of a century.  How has the publishing business changed over that time?

The general direction is democratization of information and disintermediation of publishers. These are big words for "you might not need a traditional publisher as much." The problem right now is that publishers are not catalyzing change. They are trying to hinder it.

Where do you see business books (and in general the dissemination of business-oriented content) headed in the future?

Ebook to tablet, deployed within hours of completion, $10 price point, interactive, constantly revised, direct from the author.

Finally, (I always ask this), what's the biggest example of business bullsh*t that you've encountered during your career and how did you cope with it?

I don't deal with a lot of business bullsh*t. At 59 years old, I don't have to anymore.

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Last updated: Jan 15, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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