Blog to Book
How AtoZ makes it easy to write a book
Blog to book is a marketing tool I’m using due to my participation in April’s AtoZChallenge. 26 blogs in 26 days. For the second year in a row, I’m taking part with an amazing group of people at BlogChatter, which supports bloggers based in India. This year, they asked me to be a mentor for their ebook Carnival, a project that assists bloggers into turning their posts into an ebook. Me! A mentor! In India!
Sunday, April 15th, blogchatter held an Ask Me Anything all-day chat on Twitter (#AMACarnival). Anyone could post writing and marketing questions, and any of the mentors could jump in with advice. As there’s a twelve-hour time difference, I participated in the early morning and evening shifts, getting about five hours of sleep on Saturday. All well worth it.
Last year, I shared writing and marketing tips, posted my ebook on blogchatter’s website for two months, where I received lots of downloads and free publicity. After the two-month exclusionary period expired, I published it on Amazon. This year, I wrote 26 short stories, set in a fictional Arizona retirement community (similar to where I live) where odd and unexplained events occur. I’m forgoing the ebook carnival and have collected and published them on Amazon, some of them prior to publication on my blog. (Exclusive! Read them before my blog peeps do! 99¢) <–the previous was a blatant marketing ploy.
The AtoZChallenge and the ebook Carnival have convinced me of the benefits of the blog to book concept. It’s an easy way to recycle content. One stone, two birds. Win-win, and all that stuff.
There are two ways to blog to book, and I’ll cover each.
Blog to book from Scratch
This is the method I used for my short story collection, Twilight, Arizona. As AtoZ is an alphabetical challenge, I took a common belief or fallacy (ie, anything can be bartered or traded at a thrift store) and created a story around it. Because I’m anal, er, organized, I started writing in January, five stories every two weeks, with the last two Saturdays in March reserved for proofreading, adding images, SEO, and giving them the same format. (Last year I scrambled to get them written and posted in time. It was not pretty)
If you’re blogging a fiction book, your process will be similar to what you’d use if you’re writing a book—picking an idea, deciding on your characters, researching, outlining then writing. Break the book into manageable parts, whether scenes or chapters, and upload them to your blog.
You can publish them on the fly or after the book is written.
If you’re blogging a non-fiction book, the process is about the same. Pick your subject, organize the subject into similar ideas, add details, research then write.
Blog to Book from Existing Posts
Look through your existing posts. Is there a common theme? At the time, the post might have been an observation of your life, but in context with other posts, you might have a memoir. Or a travelogue. Or a group of essays.
Can you add more content to what you have? Expand on the hurricane warning when you lived on Big Island, Hawaii? Does the material need updating? Can you customize the content for different audiences?
Hawaiian tourists should be warned of undertows, sharks, and there are no plastic bags in the state (a few in the ABC Stores, but the first time I went to Target and the cashier asked if I wanted a bag, I went Huh? Of course I want a bag. Then got charged for a cloth bag.)
Hawaiian locals might want to know the location of the best transfer station (garbage dump where you can buy another man’s junk for cheap). Or alternate routes during Ironman (there aren’t many).
Can I supplement the content with videos, links, and resource material?
But Cheryl, I don’t want to put my book out for free or do research on a non-fiction book.
Okay, I get it. Writing time is precious. Think outside the box. Why not take the stuff you’re doing anyway and turn it into a companion piece for your book? You’re throwing your research links into a bookmark or file anyway, why not turn them into a resource chapter? Why not recycle your character worksheets? Did you blog about that huge error neither you, your editor, nor your beta readers caught? Include it. Who online helped you, encouraged you? Give them a shout out. Who left a bad review or halted your progress? Write about your feelings when it happened.
Assemble all the bits and pieces of what went on behind the scenes of Your BestSeller #1 and publish them on Amazon as a permafree book. Or offer it to someone signing up for your newsletter. Behind the scenes material makes you more human to your readers and helps build your brand.
Nowadays, writing includes more than sitting down and pounding out 80-100K. Marketing is part of the package. Blog to book is a way you can do one by doing the other.
Happy blogging! Happy blog-to-book!
This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, a monthly hop where authors can share tips and tricks about writing and marketing. Follow the hashtag on Twitter to read more blogs.
Blessings to you,
I think this is a great idea. I can’t help but think of how Marvel has their movies and their show (Agents of Shield), and for a long time the show tended to skirt around the edges of what the movies were doing at the time. Together the two provide a natural extension. Regardless of which one an audience sees first, if they find themselves craving more, they can simply turn to the other.
A lot of businesses opt for the “free sample” business model.
And if someone does choose to post content on their blog first, it’s very likely they’ll receive some free feedback, which will help polish up the content prior to consolidating it into a book.
That’s a big part of what motivated me to start blogging, the opportunity to share what I know/think, engage in a nice digital dialogue with other bloggers, and learn from each other.
I do hope to one day write a book on writing, though in many ways my blog posts already serve well as a way of consolidating and formalizing what I believe when it comes to good writing theory and techniques.
I never thought of the feedback angle, that’s a good point!
Great post, and gives me lots of ideas 🙂
I wrote a short story a week last year. I’m doing the same this year. I know a lot of them could be tidied up or expanded on so maybe it’s time I did something with them!
I love the idea of companion pieces for our books too. Behind the scenes material sounds like a great thing to include, and something I’d be really interested in reading too!
I definitely did this one year with my A-Z Challenge posts! It’s a lot of fun. I haven’t considered it with other posts I write, but maybe I should look into it.
Here’s my blog-to-book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/713774
I’ve wondered how anyone blog a book. Well, I know. 😉
Anna from elements of emaginette
Cheryl, this is great advice. Adam’s right. Many of my blog posts offer the insight I have learned about writing. So you’re saying I could gather the posts, organize them, possibly add to them and create an e-book? I so need to understand this e-book and marketing side to writing. Thanks Cheryl for all your insight.
Someday this could be a fun extension to do. It’s definitely an idea to keep in mind, but I wouldn’t have thought of it without your post! You make it sound sensible, and totally possible. Thank you!
Louise, go for it! I’m in awe of a short story a week writing. The AtoZChallenge was difficult, and I couldn’t have done it without a theme, a plan, and motivation not to fail.
Gather your stories together into an ebook. Give some away as a lead magnet. The work is done, it’s only a matter of a few hours of organization. Good luck!
Megan, as I said in my post, it’s a win-win situation. You’ve already done the work, why not incentivize it?
I’m all for efficiency. Reuse, recycle, repurpose.
Work smarter not harder. Always sound advice. The only caution I feel I should mention is if you are looking to pursue traditional publishing, you want to be careful not to publish your work online, since publishers want first rights. However, if you know something will not be in that work, or if you have expertise in something aside from your book, this is a great way to build your author brand.
Victoria, you have the posts. Gather them into like-minded subjects, cut and paste into a master document, and publish.
Marketing is half of self-publishing. There’s lots of great books to read, Facebook groups to join (20booksTo50K, Smarter Artists, and Ninja Writers come to mind), and free workshops (90% of them want you to sign up for $ courses, but there’s always nuggets of information to glean).
I try to attend two online courses each month. You never know what you’ll learn.
Enjoy the journey, it’s more fun than the destination.
Ideas come at me left and right, the trick is to know which are valuable. Thanks for visiting.
Thank you for all your insights Cheryl. I never thought of all these questions. Happy hop day!
Interesting ideas. You clearly are an active writer. I’ve never thought of blogging my progress as I write a novel. I am posting excerpts of my current WIP to my website on a separate page, not my blog. I’m doing this for feedback and a visual view of my progress. Since you mention stories on Arizona retirement, I wrote a mildly salacious novel several years ago, loosely based on a friend mine retiring to The Villages, FL. Not exactly the kind of book you’d expect from a recently retired businessman turned writer, but then you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Use your blogs about your writing journey as a lead magnet once your book is published. Readers love a behind-the-scenes look. It makes you more human. they can live the life of a writer through you—almost everyone wants to write a book, you experiences let them imagine they can.
As for my retirement Twilight stories, several of them are based on things I’ve seen or heard in Sun City, AZ, where I live. With a twist, of course.
Good luck on your WIP.
I listened to a podcast at Novel Marketing about blogging your book this week. The speaker addressed your final point: why would people buy a book if they can get the information for free on a blog?
He pointed out that we do this all the time. How many people will read a book and still go and see the movie? Lots. Some will even buy and read the book before they see the movie, or after. Consuming the content one way doesn’t stop us wanting to consume it in another.
Also, it can be easier to reference or search or even read a book than a blog. I can read a book anywhere, but reading a blog means having a wifi connection.
Good point. Plus if you read the content on a blog, you’d have to search all over the place. With a book, it’s all in one place.
Thanks for stopping by.
This is a really interesting project idea, and something I’m considering for the future. I will definitely come back to this post when I’m more clear on what I want to do. Thanks, Cheryl!
You could bundle your #AuthorToolboxBlogHop posts into a book. (hint, hint)