Making the Leap from Blogger to Book Author

by | Jun 29, 2015

Three years ago I was a guest author on one of my favorite sites of all, Copyblogger. The first sentence of the article was this: “Attention Bloggers: I’ve seen the future, and you’re missing it.”

Let me explain.

Since I started blogging near the end of 2009, I’ve cruised thousands of blogs, mostly in publishing, design, and internet marketing.

There are many, many awesome writers out there blogging away. The successful ones have found a voice, a point of view, and a subject that works for them and their audience.

Some do it for the love of writing, creating a record, getting their own viewpoint into the marketplace of ideas, adding to a family legacy, all kinds of reasons.

I wrote the article for Copyblogger specifically to try to appeal to the legion of bloggers who follow them, trying to show people who write constantly that the transition to being a published author has never been easier. Particularly for people with huge piles of content, just sitting there doing nothing.

The article looks at different ways you can make the blog-to-book leap, and since then (and since the publication of Nina Amir’s bestselling How to Blog a Book), more people have explored these possibilities.

(At one point the internet marketing world woke up to the exploding sales of Kindle ebooks, and a number of programs appeared that promised to teach marketers—including bloggers—how to use these ebooks for some kind of search engine mojo.)

But today anyone traveling the blogosphere will see that the writers of these blogs have not made the leap to become published book authors. Maybe it’s a case of different skill sets. Writing a 500-word blog post takes a different kind of writing skill than trying to create a 200-page book from the wilds of your article archives.

Step by Step from Blog to Book

Here’s a simple scenario for a blogger with an archive of articles mostly on a specific subject can publish a book pretty quickly.

It won’t work for everyone.

But if you’ve been blogging for a while and haven’t ever thought of publishing a book, think about this. It can be used to create ebooks that will sell consistently, and that can motivate you to keep going.

  1. Go to your inbox. Yes, I know your inbox has nothing to do with blogging or books. If you can, look through the emails you get from readers, particularly the ones asking questions. If you don’t have any, go to a forum or social media discussion group and look at the questions being asked.
  2. Find the questions that readers ask most often.
  3. Go to your blog archives. Hunt out articles where you’ve addressed this question. Maybe it was the subject of the article, or maybe you just treated it in passing in an article that was about something else.
  4. Copy/paste these articles into a Word document or Scrivener project. Scrivener makes it much easier to organize your copy.
  5. Here comes the heavy lifting: you’ve got to sequence and edit the resulting document, taking out stuff that’s irrelevant, perhaps adding a transition here or there, or just inserting subheads to clarify what each section is about.
  6. Next you’ll need a title for your publication. It might be good to also use your blog’s name in the subtitle so people who know you will connect the book with your blog. Make sure at least one or two of your main keywords appear in your title/subtitle combination.
  7. This is a fun part: grab whatever tools you use to create the graphics you use on your blog—Canva or stock photos, doesn’t matter—and create a cover. It should be a book-like shape (standard *ratio* is 6 x 9) but don’t try to make it look too much like a book cover. Most ebook covers are formulaic, which makes them predictable and boring. Just make a colorful, fun (if appropriate) cover that would be easy to read as a sidebar ad.
  8. You’re ready to publish. No, I’m serious. You can upload your Word doc (or export an RTF file from Scrivener) along with the graphic you created as a JPG to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing portal.
  9. Create a PDF version to sell on your own website and you’re in business.

What’s Missing From My Plan

To take your ebook to the next level, there are two modifications you can make to my simple plan:

  1. Hire an editor. Send the editor your Word document, she will send it back with the corrections marked up for you and you’ll have an ebook that won’t embarrass you. I highly recommend you don’t skip this step, you don’t want a book out there that’s full of easily correctible errors, it won’t help you in the long run.
  2. Hire a real cover designer. Book cover design is a specialty, and cover designers know how to reach specific audiences. You can get a professional cover design at a reasonable price, and it will upgrade your branding significantly. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Your little ebook has an excellent chance to be a success, because you’ve based in on your research and understanding of your own readers and their feedback.

Of course, as a blogger you’ve been addressing exactly these areas. You may be able to segment questions into several topics and create an ebook for each one. Why not?

Benefits of Ebooks for Bloggers

Ebooks like these become great ambassadors for your blog and your brand. Make sure to link to your blog at the end of your ebooks, explaining to readers why they might want to come over and get even more useful information.

You can also bundle these together and offer savings on the whole series. You can use them for email list signup incentives, for bonuses connected to other products or services—there’s really no end to how you can use them.

And if you think this isn’t worth the time it would take, the authority you would get from being the author of a series of guides on your topic, or the income you can derive from short books like these, you would be wrong.

Look in the sidebar of this blog. My Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guide to Copyright which sells for $2.99 on Kindle, or $10 as a PDF from my site, has been out since 2010.

For 5 years this little ebook has been chugging along. These days I might sell one copy a day from my site. Not something you’ll see authors bragging about, is it?

But 1 a day is about $300 a month in completely passive income. That’s about $3,500 a year in pure profit, just from the one PDF. And it gets great reviews.

I’ve had the satisfaction of helping thousands of authors trying to figure out how to properly publish their books, and that’s the main reason I do it.

I want to do more of these targeted publications, and reviewing my own history has encouraged me to send more “ambassadors” of my own out into the world.

Even if most of the bloggers reading Copyblogger didn’t seem to “get it,” do you?

 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com
 

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15 Comments

  1. Piotr Dariusz Makowski

    Joel, thank you for the simplicity and clarity of this post!

    Reply
  2. Jay Lemming

    My only question is: with all the editing, rewriting and reshaping that would need to go into an existing post to turn it into an ebook, would it not just be better to do the research before you even write a blog post in the first place? If you’re a newbie blogger, like I am, shouldn’t you–before you even write a post–go to those forums and find out what is keeping people scratching their heads and asking questions?

    I understand a good part of what you’re talking about (regarding the ebook option) is building an attractive ebook package from the helpful information, which I agree is a good idea to engage visitors, so I won’t argue with you on that front.

    But I also just wonder if research serves not just to shape blog posts into books, but to shape blog posts in the first place.

    Regards,
    Jay

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      Jay,

      Great question. If you blog a book, rather than book a blog, you avoid some of the need to revise and edit. Write you book intentionally on your blog.

      Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Jay, you are correct and as a new blogger putting some thought into this will repay you many times over.

      When I started I didn’t have the foresight (or Nina’s book, either) and like most bloggers I just sat down and started writing.

      But converting about 40 blog posts into a book wasn’t as much work as it might sound. There was some editing and re-formatting involved, and all the “booky” pieces that had to be added, but overall a very fast method for publishing a book from existing material. Good luck with your blog!

      Reply
  3. Nina Amir

    Great post, Joel!

    I’d add a few things…based on How to Blog a Book…because I want bloggers to be sure they are producing a marketable book–one that is unique and necessary in the category where they plan to sell it.

    Do a competitive analysis. I wrote about that here: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2014/04/how-to-fill-a-hole-on-the-bookstore-shelf/ This will make the light bulbs go off–you’ll get new ideas for how to make your book fill a hole on the bookstore shelf.

    And do a market analysis. I wrote about that here: http://writenonfictionnow.com/conduct-market-analysis-book/ While you may think you know your readers, it’s a good thing to check in and be sure! Target your book at their wants and needs. That’s where Joel’s suggestion to check your email box for questions from readers is a good one. Check comments on the blog as well.

    And here’s my BIGGEST tip: Plan out the best book you can write or would write–even if you didn’t have a blog. Then, and only then, go looking for posts to repurpose into a book.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      These are incredibly powerful tools, Nina, thanks for the links, I’m sure readers will appreciate them.

      Reply
    • melanie jean juneau

      I have been following your sage advice for years.

      I started writing a blog in 2012, then two, then columns..for free. Although a small a publisher approached me her demands were too restrictive so I gathered together two sets of 10- 12 posts free mini intros to my ‘real’ ebook So far barely 400 downloads but in a small niche of Christian family living, I rank #1 on Smashwords and # 7 on Amazon.

      As a result, I was asked to contribute to an anthology…which is a start. Then a radio interview came, with 4,334 plays so far…a beginning.

      Thank-you for your generosity and wisdom.

      Reply
      • Joel Friedlander

        Melanie, thanks for your comment. Your path is leading to exactly the right place, and the more you keep publishing, the more opportunities will come your way. Well done!

        Reply
        • melanie jean juneau

          and you reply quickly; no wonder your name keeps coming up on self-publishing sites
          thank you for the encouragement

          Reply
      • Nina Amir

        Melanie,

        That’s great! I encourage you to keep moving forward, and if you want to write a guest post for me about how your little book got a #1 Smashwords ranking, etc., I’d love it!

        Reply
        • melanie jean juneau

          Coming right up…well soon…One key was joining forces with 15 other Indie Authors and offering a book sale where we promoted each other’s books

          Comment, interact, write reviews for others = support unselfishly and fellow writers will support you

          Reply
  4. Betty Ming Liu

    Joel, thank you for the simplicity and clarity of this post! What you’re suggesting does indeed sound doable. Even more importantly, it takes the terror out of the authorship process. I will try it (as soon as I finish my current book project!).

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Can’t wait to see your book, Betty, and if it helps to start this way, I say go for it!

      Reply

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