Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: Kawasaki’s 3 Steps to Success

Career DevelopmententrepreneurshipPersonal BrandingSocial Media

I just interviewed Guy Kawasaki, the former Apple evangelist, social media master, and author of 12 books. We met up at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas and talked about how to grow your following and self promote without being icky. He, in particular, was very keen to talk about self-publishing—understandably because his second self-published book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book is out now. So he is on the speaking circuit and busy self-promoting.

Luckily, Guy is charming and has some unusual ideas, once you get past the basics. He cautions authors that writing won’t make you rich:

“The best 2 motivations for writing a book are because you have something to say that is of value—what a concept! The second is because it’s on your bucket list; it’s an intellectual challenge.”

I certainly learned this lesson myself. Read about what happened to me in the 6 months after self-publishing Camera Ready: How to Present Yourself and Ideas On Air or Online.

But Guy has 3 publishing plans for authors…and number 3 hadn’t occurred to me:

Plan A) Traditional

Find an agent, find an editor, cut a deal. “They give you an advance, they publish you, the publicist gets you on all the shows, life is good. That’s plan A. Never happens. Even if you get acquired then you get the attention of your publicist for 4 weeks. Sink or swim,” says Kawasaki.

Plan B) Self-publishing

You write it, you publish it, you market it all yourself.

Plan C) B + A

Kawasaki explains, “You self-publish it, you market it , you do the best you can. God help you it takes off. Then a traditional publisher, who is with it, says, ‘Ah, this self-published book is doing well! I should acquire this book and the rights to the next 2 books!’”

I didn’t think about going backwards, i.e. publishing and THEN getting a publisher, but I guess that’s what EL James did with 50 Shades of Grey.

So, other than God helping you, how to market yourself?

Kawasaki says to position yourself as an expert to a small segment of followers in a niche, genre, or sector. Let’s say you are writing a Southern cookbook and plan to put it out in 9 months…

Step 1: Link to and write about other content.

For example, tweet an NPR profile of Julia Child, Facebook a special YouTube of Bobby Flay, blog about a Wired article on the science of cooking, and Pinterest great recipes you’ve found and tested.

Step 2: Be consistent

“When you are known as an expert in food you get retweeted, you get shared, you get followed so it becomes an upward spiral,” says Kawasaki.

Step 3: Deliver your product

Tell your followers, “Guess what! Now I have a book and for 9 months you’ve been grooving on my curation so you know I know what I’m talking about,” he says.

So where are YOU in this 3-Step process?

I found it very ironic that Guy told me he’d go back to a real publisher in a heartbeat because self-publishing is such a hassle. He also was very honest about his use of social media:

“For me, social media is a means to an end and that end is at times promotion of products.”

With 4 million followers, he’s done quite a job at it.  Meanwhile, I’m going to pitch my already self-published book to a couple of niche publishing houses. I’ll let you know what happens.


Manoush Zomorodi is the host of WNYC’s New Tech City and the author of Camera Ready: How to Present Yourself and Ideas On Air or Online. Download the show on iTunes, get the book on Amazon or iBooks, and follow her on Twitter @manoushz. She also blogs at and for The Huffington Post.