006: Guy Kawasaki Interview: Stuff Does Not Sell Itself [Podcast]

You have to stand by the side of the river a long time before a roast duck will fly into your mouth.

–Japanese Proverb

If you’ve written a book or even thought about writing a book and you haven’t a received a big fat advance check, then you’ve probably considered self-publishing at some point. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Guy Kawasaki, Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Guy Kawasaki, who is the co-founder of Alltop.com, the former Chief Evangelist for Apple, and the author of 12 books. He is also a huge fan of self-publishing.

So we had a conversation about why Guy recently self-published a book and what he learned through the process. I think you’re going to enjoy it.

In this episode of The Portfolio Life podcast, we talk about self-publishing, entrepreneurship, and the many reasons you don’t have to wait to share your words with the world.

My interview with Guy Kawasaki

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email, click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

Guy Kawasaki wrote his first book in 1987 during his time at a small software company. The book, The Macintosh Way, was born from his belief that there had to be a better way to do business.

When Guy self-published his book What the Plus, he discovered that publishing a book was hard to do well. So after he figured it all out, he wrote APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur — How to Publish a Book to share the lessons he learned and make self-publishing a little more accessible to all of us.

Interview highlights

Guy and I talked about:

  • What it was like to work with Steve Jobs
  • How authors can self-publish great work
  • Why writing (eventually) gets easier
  • The good (and bad reasons) to write a book
  • The advantages of self-publishing and the responsibilities that go with them

The most important part of publishing

Guy sees self-publishing as “artisanal” publishing, and sees authors as craftspeople.

And he is clear: Writing a book is not a trivial task.

You throw up on the page, then you invest your real effort refining it. But if you’re doing it for the right reasons — to add to the body of knowledge, to further a cause, or for the challenge of just doing it — it’s worth the effort to do well.

But he points out it’s not just about writing the content. To self-publish, you also have to be willing to market it.

Because, as Guy has learned, stuff does not sell itself. (Click here to tweet that.)

The roast duck does not just fly into your mouth.

A writer needs to make a lot of things happen in parallel. The moment you start writing your book is the moment you should start building your marketing platform. You need to consider eBook formatting, cover and interior design, print vendors, and more.

But the payoff can be great.

You can pick up a copy of the book on Amazon (affiliate link). And Guy shares more tools and resources on the APE website.

I hope you enjoy the interview. Feel free to download it and share with friends. And I would love for you to take a moment and leave a review on iTunes. This podcast is a work in progress, and I value your feedback.

Have you ever considered self-publishing? Share in the comments.

43 thoughts on “006: Guy Kawasaki Interview: Stuff Does Not Sell Itself [Podcast]

  1. Thanks for the interview. I bought Guy’s book, APE before I self-published my memoir, Chasing My Father last November. It was extremely helpful and the interview echoes many of the important points. The thing that I liked best about self-publishing is that it gave me control over the title and content. Since it is a memoir of 6 years of my life after breast cancer, I was afraid that an editor would want to tell a slightly different story, or leave out important points to cut the length. I hired two editors that worked for me, (as Guy suggested: editors and graphic designers need to be professionals), so we had discussions on the editing, but in the end, I got to keep what I thought was most important. Thanks Jeff, so another wonderful resource as a writer.

    1. Very cool, Agatha. I am in the middle of republishing my first eBook, finally going the “pro” route and using a team to produce a quality product.

  2. Jeff, just grabbed the podcast and will listen to it in a few minutes. Guy is someone I respect. When he talks, I definitely listen and heed. Thanks in advance.

    Yeah, I’ll admit it. Selling/pitching is definitely my weak spot.

  3. I plan on releasing three short stories this year through self-publishing and email updates like these come in quite handy.


  4. I’ve self-published two books and also have a traditional published book, I think it’s good for every author to go both routes. Self-publishing has definitely changed since it blew it in 2011, there are now over 13 million books on Amazon. It is amazing still and there’s still tremendous opportunity!

  5. Great podcast! Read the book about seven months ago. Guy’s book and Rachelle Gardner’s, “How Do I Decide” are the ones that drifted me from WordServe Literary Agency to Self Publish.


      1. Listened to it, loved it! I liked the idea Guy had about updating your book on Amazon, that’s something I’m probably going to do with my book soon.

        I’ve got your podcast on iphone now so I’m going over to itunes right now to give it a good review!

      1. Because of the ease of production of e-books vs. paper books, and the niche/audience I’ll be writing for, and because of the boxes of books left forlornly in my storage unit. I may consider having a pure POD option for those who really must have paper in their hands, but I think e- will do fine.

  6. Terrific, Jeff. The think I loved most about what Guy Kawasaki said was, “Writing is not a serial-process, it’s a parallel process.” So true and such a great podcast. Thanks!

  7. Oh! I can’t listen to it right now, damn. I’ll download when I get home. Thanks Jeff!

  8. Interesting, although I did think it went on for slightly too long. I liked the concept and the way Guy looked at the technology and nuts and bolts behind self-publishing.

    My favorite part was his view that a ‘good’ reason for writing is the intellectual challenge. I’m so glad I found someone of that view. I hear many around me who want to write because they believe they have something to say. I look at them in admiration – I feel I have nothing to say. But the craft involved in writing is so unpredictable, complex and involved that I’m attracted to it and I do want to write for the challenge it offers.

    Thank you for facilitating this, Jeff.

  9. Listened on my evening jog… had to laugh when Guy joked about the choice between traditional and self-publishing. I like these podcasts. Please keep it up.

    1. Thanks, Mark! That means a lot. Trying to make this show excellent. Keep the feedback coming and let me know what we can do to improve.

  10. Great podcast! The one thing that stuck out to me was when Guy said the moment you start writing you start marketing. Writing is a parallel process.

  11. I joined the ranks of self-pubbers last November and I don’t regret it a bit. Every step of the process has been an amazing experience. It truly is the work of a craftsman. And I guess what thrills me the most is that we really can have a say in every part of our creation. The hard part is getting the visibility, but hard work does pay off, and writers are the most helpful and generous peeps around.
    Off to listen to that podcast ….,

  12. Guy—just saw where book baby is offering a free copy of your book for a limited time. It was invaluable for me to write and self-publish my memoir last Fall. Here’s the link to the bookbaby offer: https://www.bookbaby.com/free-guide/ape-guide?Source=BBP1433F&Dest=https://www.pages04.net/discmakers-cdbaby/BookBaby_GuyKawasaki/APE_guide?utm_campaign=BBP1433F&utm_source=Prospect&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=933c049fda-Book+Baby+-+Kawasaki+-+20140811&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-933c049fda-305124773
    Thanks for all you do to inspire us to keep writing!

Comments are closed.