• Jean Ellen Whatley
  • Can You Hear Me in the Back? An Interview with Guy Kawasaki, Author, Entrepreneur, World Changer
Can You Hear Me in the Back? An Interview with Guy Kawasaki, Author, Entrepreneur, World Changer

Have you ever sat through a motivational speech from somebody preaching the “risking-everything-you’ve-got-to-acheive-your-dreams” gospel while making snarky comments to yourself, “Easy for you to say, dude, you’re a millionaire!”? In my former day job as a corporate video producer, I heard the best and the worst of the “follow your passion” pitches from many an effete whose words rang hollow. Not so with Guy Kawasaki. In the spring of 2010, I sneaked in to the back of a packed auditorium at the San Diego Hilton, wondering why the entire expo hall had turned into a ghost town. They had flocked to hear this guy speak. I was instantly mesmerized by the substance and conviction of his message; I had indeed “heard him in the back.”

Even though the topic du jour was geared toward corporate growth, team building, leadership, and such, his message was about finding our inner core and rising to the challenge of honoring it with action. It was as if he'd seen a window in my soul. Little did he know that I would be so moved by his message, that shortly thereafter, I would unchain myself from my corporate ties and hit the road to write my memoir, Off the Leash.

In late June I attended Guy’s webinar “More Followers, More Engagement, Less Time,” through a great media engagement platform called Help A Reporter Out (HARO). Guy was giving authors tips from his latest book (written with Shawn Welch) called APE- Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur -How to Publish a Book. Kirkus calls APE “essential reading for modern authors, regardless of experience.” The hour-long webinar was chock full of fabulous tips on harnessing the “all top” of social media, plus the old-fashioned press-the-flesh or hand 'em a book method of marketing.

He speaks with deserved authority. Guy is the author of twelve books. He was the chief evangelist of Apple. He has a BA from Stanford University, an MBA from UCLA, and an honorary doctorate from Babson College. Kawasaki was born and raised in Hawaii and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with “wife 1.0, four kids, one dog, two chickens, three lizards, and two turtles.”  He is a turtle dove of a guy, generous, sincere, with the courage of his convictions to share his wisdom and generosity of spirit. I'm grateful for the chance to interview him last week. Buy his book, APE--I did.

1. Why are you an advocate for self-publishing?
I live by a two-word mantra: Empower people. Self-publishing is one way to empower people to spread their knowledge without having to suck up to traditional publishers. It's one more event in the inexorable march of the democratization of information. 

2. How can authors know which social media channels are going to lead to their most likely buyers?
Is this a trick question? Truly, they can't "know." All you can do is take your best guess and try one or a few. Then you see what works best. I would start with Google+ and Twitter, then Facebook and LinkedIn.

3. Can you explain the difference between "creation" and "curation" for writers?
Creation is when you write a blog post or article. Curation is when you find blog posts or articles that others have written. I recommend that authors focus on curation [for blog content]  while they are writing their book and reserve all their creative energy for the book itself.
4. Where should authors direct people to "learn more?" (website, FB, etc.)
There isn't a single answer to this. For some, it would be directly to the Amazon or other reseller web page for your book. This is the "cut the crap and show people how to buy" philosophy. For others, you can send people to a website that's "brochure-ware" for the book. Still others may use a Google+ or Facebook fan page if they want to engage people and not focus on a buying transaction.
5. Why are you keen on Google +  for writers?
Vis-a-vis Twitter, you can have much longer posts with embedded pictures or video as well as threaded comments. Vis-a-vis Facebook, at least 100% of the people who have circled you might see your posts; the same is not true on Facebook.

All in all, I like the aesthetics of Google+, the features that foster discussion such as threading and spam filtering, and the people on Google+. And don't forget that posting on Google+, that service being part of Google, is good for search juice.

6. How can a writer continue to stimulate the market to keep their book fresh after it's been out a while?
One of the advantages of self-publishing is that the author decides when to stop marketing, selling, and revising the book, not some "at the publisher." The way to keep a book fresh, on the product level, is to continue to update and revise it.

On a sales and marketing level, you just have to understand that evangelizing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. So you keep posting excerpts, linking to reviews, and suggesting it to people who can use it. This takes chutzpah, diligence, and a relentless pursuit of getting the word out.

7. Book bloggers vs book reviewers: Is it possible for an author to get as much traction through book bloggers?  
It's possible to get more traction through book bloggers than book reviewers. It's also possible to get traction through people who are neither book bloggers or reviewers, but simply write about your topic.

For example, suppose you wrote a book about wooden canoes. Not too many book reviewers would cover it. Maybe some book bloggers would. But for sure people who blog about wooden canoes will.

My recommendation is that you not be proud. Give your book to anyone who will write about it.

8. What's the most frequently overlooked promotional tool a new author can take advantage of?
Google +.
9.    Why did you write APE?   
Royalty. :-)  

Guy is a prince of a guy.

Jean Ellen Whatley is the author of Off the Leash - how my dog inspired me to quit my job, pack my car and take a road trip across America to reclaim my life.

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  • Just catching up with newsletters after one busy summer. This post is a keeper!  Thank you Jean!

  • Marybeth Holleman

    OK, so I guess it's time for me to figure out this Google+...

  • Teresa K. Thorne

    I've got to ask a stupid question here...I get that a book reviewer is someone who reviews books, but what is a book blogger?  Is that someone who just mentions your book in their blog?