I am the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. I also am the co-founder of Alltop.com, an "online magazine rack" of popular topics on the web. Previously, I was the chief evangelist of Apple. I have a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.
I wrote a book called Enchantment, and it was published with one of the Big 6. A company wanted to buy 500 copies of the eBook version of Enchantment, but my publisher was unable to sell it directly. Instead, it referred the company to retailers. When I heard this, it showed how backwards traditional publishing was. Around the same time, I fell in love with Google+ and decided to write a book about it. This was the perfect chance to try self-publishing because I knew that Google+ was too limited a topic for a traditional publisher.
During this process, I learned how hard it is to self-publish a non-fiction book with pictures, captions, tables, and lists. This led me to write APE because I knew, as Steve Jobs would say, "there must be a better way."
We chose KDP/CreateSpace because my prior experience was that Amazon was where the action was happening. In particular, we wanted the ability to give books away via the KDP Select program.
Our experience with CreateSpace and KDP has been - no bull shiitake - fabulous. Processing is fast. Tech support is fast. Customer service is fast. We approved the CreateSpace proof on Christmas night and had a physical copy by December 27th. When we updated APE in February, the new version was live in eight hours. The analytics are real time. It's hard to imagine ways the experience could be much better.
"KDP is the First Amendment meets Technology. That's why I will always use KDP."
James Altucher, author of I Was Blind But Now I See
I have a confession to make. When I was 21 years old I thought that writing a novel would help me meet women. Then I thought it would help me get a job. Then I thought it would help me make money so I wouldn't have to get a job.
Who wants to get a job? Why not write?
Four unpublished novels later and 500 rejections later I had to get a job. Then I hated my job so I started a business. Then I started 20 businesses and most of them failed. Then I wrote about it and now I had enough experience in life to actually say something.
I was published by traditional publishers for my first five books. Then I switched to self-publishing. I can go into publishing vs. self-publishing but I won't. I have many times on my blog and even gave details on advances, copies sold, etc. and why I made the switch to KDP, which has made me infinitely happy.
What I learned most was not Traditional versus Self, but Professional vs. Non-Professional publishing. With my latest book, Choose Yourself!, I finally decided to be as professional as possible in my publishing effort. Whether or not you use a traditional publisher or KDP, you could easily produce a non-professional book.
You might think: a traditional publisher would not put out a non-professional book. This is not true. And with KDP, the beauty and the beast of it is that you can upload anything and now you're published. This is what is great about KDP.
But I like to write. That is what I am most professional about. I don't like to design covers. So I hired one of the best cover designers in the world to design my book.
I like to write, but every writer needs a good editor. I found an editor by finding which authors I liked and who edited their books. Then I hired him. We went through 20 rewrites where he not only helped me with correcting grammar but helped me with the entire structure of the book. He helped me organize where chapters go, which sections needed to be stylized differently, which sections needed more material to flow more smoothly into the next chapter. And so on. Even long after he was paid the final installment he kept working with me on rewrites.
I've never done an audio book before. But I did one and used the same studio President Clinton and JK Rowling used for their books. Then uploaded through Audible, an Amazon company. It just looks good to have an audio and Kindle and print book all on the same page.
I find out who marketed some of my favorite best-selling books. I don't know how to market a book. So I used the best in the business to market my book.
As part of my marketing I offered to do guest posts, speak at conferences, write for other publications, whatever I could do to help other people and get my name out there to their audiences.
My book is called "Choose Yourself!" because I feel in every way we have to choose ourselves for success and happiness. The rules we think are "normal" are all man made. If we are not the writer of our rules, then someone else will write them for us and the results will not be pleasant. I feel like Twitter is the new "choose yourself" media compared to the old traditional newspapers and other media outlets. So I asked (which was very difficult for me to do) Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, to write the foreword of my book. He did. Which also gave a feeling of professionalism to my book.
KDP is the "Choose Yourself" way to publish a book. You choose the book you want to publish. It's yours completely. Nobody can force you to do "this" or "that" when it goes against your entire gut. KDP is the First Amendment meets Technology. That's why I will always use KDP.
Self-publishing doesn't mean lack of professionalism. Professionalism comes from you, not your platform. I chose myself to be as professional as possible.
The first week Choose Yourself! was released, it was in the top 100 on Amazon all week. It was #1 for all of its categories. There were even two days in the first week that it was #1 for all of non-fiction on kindle. I'm even wondering if I'm the first person ever to be #1 for both "Religion & Spirituality" AND "Business & Investing" at the same time. The success has continued and it's been a blessing.
KDP helped me choose myself for publishing success. I'm really grateful, which at the end of the day, is the only thing you ever want to be.
"It's a miracle to me when I see the numbers of people who download my books in Kindle format from Amazon."
Jack Cotton, author of Selling Luxury Homes
While I have always understood and appreciated the importance of writing skills, my first professional experience in writing occurred quite by accident in 2005.
To make the proverbial long story short, the family dog passed away and I wanted to write something for my children to remember him by. This dog had been instrumental in soothing some rough times in our family's life. I wrote the book, gave it to my kids, and unbeknownst to me, people in my office found a copy.
One day during the holiday season they presented me with 20 copies they had made at Kinko's. We passed the books around and some months later I received a call from a publisher who wanted to publish the book. I received an advance check and a contract in the mail and the rest is history. My thought was: "If I can write a book by accident, imagine if I put my mind to writing one on purpose."
My next books, all related to real estate, were written on purpose with a purpose and are available in Kindle. I've had the honor and pleasure of being number one in my category in Kindle from time to time. I still keep my day job of listing and selling luxury homes.
The biggest struggle is wrestling with the time to actually sit down and write. Everybody it seems has a book inside them. The trick is to actually make up your mind to get the book on paper. I developed a system for myself to get the process rolling and still find that the biggest challenge is just getting started.
So rather than sitting in front of a blank computer screen deciding to write your book, my suggestion is to begin with your topic, your title, and actually design a cover. I actually made several blowups of my proposed book cover and left them all around the house and my office. The constant vision of these covers inspired me to find the time to get to work on my book.
Once a title is decided it is easy to write down 10 to 12 or more chapter headings, write those on Post-It Notes and stick them on the wall. Then start doing your research, note taking and putting ideas on Post-It Notes under the appropriate chapters. Once you've got enough wall space filled up you can rearrange the Post-It Notes in a logical order, stand in front of them and I just start dictating.
The hardest part of the process and the easiest part to give up on is editing the first draft of your dictation when it comes back. Most of us have no idea how we sound when we talk compared to how important it is for good writing flow. This is the hardest job is untangling the mess that comes back from the typist.
My first book, which was published by a traditional publisher, was a great experience in that I got to see my book in bookstores including Amazon.com and be known as an author. At the same time, I gave up the copyright to my material and lost a good deal of control over the timing, the editing and the formatting of the book.
While it was an exciting project, I learned enough that when it was time to write my nonfiction real estate books, I knew I wanted to maintain control over content, control over formatting and control over the time of having the work released to people who can benefit from my work. Publishing through Kindle made that possible and literally cuts the time from conception to finished product by 75% to 80%.
It's a miracle to me when I see the numbers of people who download my books in Kindle format from Amazon. To think about the technology behind "one click" and having a book wind up on your reader is nothing short of miraculous.
The people at Amazon have been wonderful to work with. It's fun to read the reports every month and get an idea of how many people are learning and growing from the work I have published on Kindle.