Could you turn your blog into a best-selling book? A swift tutorial…

How to write better for both blogs and books … this is an update of my earlier article on this topic. As time goes by we are seeing many more blogs being turned into books. The options for people with a powerful story to tell – whether in business, social or other fields – have never been so good in terms of converting such stories, often expressed initially as blog posts, into eBooks, print books, and other formats.

How to turn a blog into a book

How to think about a book in terms of a blog, to start with

A few years ago I was working with a group of writers and one of them was discussing his ideas for a nonfiction memoir (book.) After a short time it became obvious that his concept was not just one book, but potentially three or four.

To try to shoehorn that many angles into one book would have created a rather messy mishmash, and both my fellow author-tutor and I agreed that it wouldn’t work.

The poor guy looked a bit disappointed until I told him that his material would be perfect for a blog. Being an older man he wasn’t familiar with how that could work, but once we had explained it he went away with the URLs for WordPress and Blogger … and a gleam in his eyes.

And, after publishing his story in blog form, he recently has published it as a book which is doing very well for him.

Blogs into books – nothing new here

This is nothing new, of course. I’m sure you’ve heard of a number of books that started out as blogs.

More than 10 years ago, this trend was already starting … even attracting a new word for the syndrome: “blook.”

One such “blook” even went on to become a “flook” starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams – a movie of the journal called “Julie and Julia” by Julie Powell, the true story of how and why she made every single recipe in the late Julia Childs’ cook book.

And that’s just one of the things that’s so great about modern media: its interchangeability that allows us to benefit from information and entertainment in whichever way works best for us.

On a more modest note about blogs to books …

I’m sure we’ve all seen further examples of popular blogs being turned into books.

Here on HTWB we have seen just such examples.

To start with, there is Lucy McCarragher’s brilliant series called “How To Write Fiction Without The Fuss.” This began as a 26 part series of tutorials here on HTWB, devised by me and written by Lucy. After completion, Lucy turned it into an excellent book which is still selling well for her.

Then, there is my own tome … “How To Write Brilliant Business Blogs” – which has become a popular book for SMEs and one which I love to sell, share, sign, and talk about. It is based entirely on the many blog posts I have written on here about blogging for business.

I self-published “Biz Blogs” and was happy with its performance, but guess what?

Self-published blog-based books get noticed by trade publishers

Just as “Biz Blogs” was selling away nicely on Amazon in the UK and the USA, I got a note from a USA business book publisher offering to take up the book and run with it.

It needed re-editing, but that wasn’t a problem – especially as the US publishers were happy for me to continue selling my self-published version online.

Win-win. (And I am just now finishing the edit for another book for them – watch this space!)

Here’s what I wrote a few years about about blogs-to-books, and it still applies today

As you know, a blog offers you the option not only to publish chunks of information in short, easily digestible posts, but also it lets you choose between making those posts linear or non-linear in content. You can even post consecutively about utterly different aspects of your theme, if you want to, then file them into categories which a blog supports easily.

Print books certainly can’t offer that kind of versatility and even eBooks, Kindle and the others aren’t anything like as flexible.

The other useful aspect of a blog is that it’s interactive – readers can comment on your posts and your ultimate book text grows and evolves organically. You will learn much more about your target audience this way than with pretty well any other type of research.

Your blog and book, properly configured and promoted, not only complement each other but also help sell each other

Much as you may think people won’t want to buy your material in book form if they can read it (or similar) for free online, it doesn’t work that way.

Once you develop your book it will reach a slightly different or at least adjacent audience, for starters, and in any case people who may only dip in and out of a blog now and again will appreciate having everything together in one print or electronic volume.

Then, of course, the fact that you have gone into more than one stream of your material on your blog, you effectively will have laid the foundations of more than one book.

Whether you actually go on to create more than one book will depend on how each stream of information is received by readers; a blog is a superb market testing tool.

And what about the other way around – from book to blog?

That works too, provided that the book has not been published online in its full text form.

Interestingly, if it only appears on Amazon as a print book, at the time of writing, at least, that doesn’t count in Google’s brain as publication. So – again, as far as I know – if you want to serialise a book that you have published on Amazon in print, you’re OK.

This happened with a terrific book written by a friend of mine, called “Get That Job” was serialised here on HTWB. Have a look at the series: it did really well, and helped Lynn, its author, sell quite a few books.

So – could your blog turn into a great book?

The short answer is yes, with some provisos.

  • One, you need to plan your blog posts so that they follow a logical order (although of course they can be re-ordered later.) However a blog post series like that of Lucy McCarragher here on HTWB didn’t take a lot of editing … just, mainly, copying and pasting, because we published her tutorials in a linear order.
  • Two, your material needs to have enough substance and “ooomph” to carry it on through at least 40,000 words if it is to make a worthwhile paperback book, and at least 10,000 words as an eBook. (And that means no padding: people want valuable content.)
  • Three, you need to be prepared to promote your book. The old statement “put it out there and they will come” is bullsh*t. These days, if you put it out there they will come provided that you supply them with a damned good reason. And that’s fair enough, especially considering how much hot air is wafting our way on the internet every day.

And what to do next?

Have a good, long look at your website’s blog / blogsite and see if what you have written recently (and archived) could be magicked up into a book.

If not, see if you can plan some blog posts in the near future, so that a great story emerges.

Check on Amazon and other online outlets whether a book like yours would be just another wannabee, or could carve out its own niche (even within a popular genre.)

And next? If you need some help, give me a shout on suze@suzanstmaur.com

(Helping new authors is what I do these days.)

Now: what are your views on converting series of blog posts into books?

Please share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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