5 Essential Elements of Getting from Blog to Book Deal

Author Gretl Claggett

Even though some people  have declared the death of traditional publishing and the rise of self publishing, getting a book deal is still one of the highest levels of achievement for any blogger.

Out of millions of bloggers on the web, only a handful are deemed worthy by publishers.  There’s really no denying the fact that getting a book deal from a traditional publisher puts you on a different level both in terms of achievement and credibility.

But what does it take to successfully get from blog to book deal? After hundreds of interviews with successful bloggers, many of whom have made the journey to a book deal, I’ve narrowed it down to 5 essential elements.

1. Content

If your blog was a house, the content is the foundation. If the foundation is faulty nothing else matters.  That’s why it’s important to continually perfect your craft. If you’re wondering how you do it, I’ve got some bad news. There are no shortcuts.

A best-selling author I recently spoke with said that the unpopular truth about how you get good is by putting in the time. So rather than waste your time looking for the magic bullet, put your fingers to your keyboard every morning and do the work.  If you look at the earliest work of any successful blogger you’ll notice it is not nearly as good as it is today. They’ve evolved over time.

So before you worry about how you’re going to make the journey from blog to book deal, focus on creating killer content.

2. Platform

You might be the best writer in the world, maybe even the next F. Scott Fitzgerald in the making. But without a platform, you’ve got no shot at a book deal. So let’s look at the essential elements of a platform.

Blog 

Your blog is the most essential element of your platform. An actively maintained blog gives publishers concrete evidence of your ability to write. It also enables you to build a portfolio of work, and above all, allows you to build an audience for the book you want to write. It might sound completely obvious, but publishers are in the business of selling books. Without an audience, you won’t have anybody to sell your book to.

Podcast/Vcast

As a prolific podcaster I want to make note of the fact that a blog is a multi-format platform which can host video, audio, pictures, and text. In fact Mignon Fogarty is a perfect example of somebody who has made the journey from podcast to book deal to podcasting empire. So don’t discount other content formats in the process of building your platform.

Email List

There isn’t a single successful blogger, author, or entrepreneur who hasn’t uttered the words “the money is in the list”. Ignoring their email list is always cited as one of the biggest mistakes people make in the early days of blogging. Often the people who comment on your blog are other bloggers and not necessarily people who will buy anything from you. So naturally publishers want to see a relatively sizable email list as part of your platform.

Facebook/Twitter/Google+

All social networks are not created equal. In the eyes of a publisher what’s probably going to matter most is where the most substantial audience for your book will be. An active Facebook fan page with a substantial audience is a multiplier of your reach.  In addition to increasing the size of your audience, it provides a great incubator for testing book ideas with your readers and getting feedback.

In a recent chat with my friend Kristina Holmes (who is a literary agent), she mentioned that while twitter can’t be ignored, it’s not as important as many people think because it hasn’t been as successful as other platform components in increasing book sales.

Whether you love or hate Google+, it’s probably not going anywhere considering it’s owned by one of the 800 pound gorillas of the internet. While some people say that all they hear is crickets chirping on Google+, early adopters like Ryan Crowe have grown a following of over 60,000 people. So don’t write it it off.

3. Agent

Every published author I’ve spoken with always tells me about the instrumental role a literary agent has played in the process of helping them get from blog to book deal.  The nuances of publishing companies, contracts, book advances and all the elements that go into a book deal are usually beyond the comprehension of most bloggers.   That’s where an agent comes in. A good agent will help  you shape the best proposal possible and get you the best deal possible. This allows you to focus on what you wanted to do in the first place, which is write the best book possible.

4. Original Concept

These days it might appear that all you have do is create a popular blog about blogging or social media and a publisher comes knocking on your door with an opportunity for you to write the next great marketing book.  But dig under the surface and you’ll realize that an original concept is really important in a publisher’s decision to bet on you. If your concept isn’t completely original, you might have to bring in a new perspective on an old topic. But the more likely you are to add to the echo chamber, the less likely you are to get a book deal.

5. Marketing/Promotion Plan

You might be under the impression that getting a book deal will make you more well known. The reality is that the publisher has come to you with the goal of selling as many books as possible. Since you have the platform they look to you to come up with the marketing and promotion plan. Given that the marketing plan is what will help a publisher accomplish their ultimate goal, a solid marketing plan is essential to sealing the deal.

The journey from blog to book deal is clearly a lot of work.  The dream and the reality are often very different.  Do you have dreams of getting a book deal? If so, do you have the essential elements in place?

 

About the author:

Srinivas Rao is the host and co-founder of BlogcastFM, where he has interviewed nearly 300 of the world’s most successful bloggers. He’ s also the author of  Blog to Book Deal How They Did It
Image of Gretl Claggett by 85Photos

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29 Responses to “5 Essential Elements of Getting from Blog to Book Deal”

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  1. I may not be interested in a book deal right now, but Rao I learned a lot from these tips. I believe “content” and “original concept” are the key, sine there are people who have turned their twitter feeds into a book deal and TV-Show deals :)
    Ali | Writers Blog recently posted..The Ultimate Guide To Skyrocketing Your Freelance Writing RatesMy Profile

    • I agree, Ali, that content and original concept are most important because that’s something that only the writer can provide. It’s easy to set up a social media account or put together a marketing plan, but most people don’t want to do the work of creating original, dynamic content on a consistent basis, so that’s what’ll set you apart from the crowd of wannabes.
      Sarah L. Webb recently posted..A Writer’s First Loves: Betty, Nikki, & LangstonMy Profile

    • Srinivas says:

      Ali,

      I think most of these ideas could be applied to building a platform in general. Even if you’re launching a digital product of some sort this could be really interesting. Blog to TV show is one of the stories that I’ve been trying to get for my podcast. I’ll have to see if I can track down somebody who has accomplished that one.
      Srinivas recently posted..How Freshbooks Has Grown to Over 5 Million Users with Mike McDermentMy Profile

  2. These are all valid points – and promoting yourself with the goal of raising your profile is surprisingly easy with tools like HARO and Reporter Connection. In the past, my company has used HARO, Reporter Connection and ProfNet to get our clients featured everywhere from The Today Show to CNN and the Huffington Post, so I can tell you they definitely get the job done.

    This works especially well for establishing yourself as an expert in your industry – sometimes to catch the eye of an agent, you just need a little publicity.
    Kari DePhillips recently posted..Top 10 Best Twitter ApplicationsMy Profile

    • Nina Amir says:

      It’s so much easier to get free media gigs now, isn’t it, Kari?

      But a blog helps raise you up in the search engines, and that blog readership coupled with content says “successfully test mareketed book idea” to a publisher.

      Couple this with some media attention, however, and you do lend a lot of credibility to a blogger’s book idea.
      Nina Amir recently posted..How To Pick A Topic For Your Blogged BookMy Profile

      • I agree with you, a blog is an essential element in this equation. One of the best parts of getting media attention is getting the links from big websites pointing to yours. As long as editorial policy allows for it, journalists are usually happy to link to your site when they mention you in an article.

        These backlinks from high profile sites can help boost your blog traffic significantly, both in the short term via clickthrough traffic and in the long term via SEO, which is definitely going to help a blogger attract a publisher.

    • Srinivas says:

      Thanks for the additional tips Kari. I think mainstream media definitely still plays a role. AS you said it’s a great way to establish yourself as an expert.
      Srinivas recently posted..How Freshbooks Has Grown to Over 5 Million Users with Mike McDermentMy Profile

  3. Great post, Mr. Rao. I know that creating a trailer can also help promote your book. And if you do have ties with an agent, as I do, it’s essential to do everything you can to be READY with all elements of your
    proposal.

    Blogs keep you in the game, keep you working and writing. And I agree that the LIST is very important.

    Would you suggest general communication with your LIST now and again, or just the publication of posts. WordPress includes a feature where one could send an informative email periodically.

    Thanks again for great info, Beth @ Boomer Highway
    Beth @ Boomer Highway (twitter) recently posted..Self-Discipline Can Be the Key to HappinessMy Profile

    • Nina Amir says:

      Beth,
      Having that proposal at the ready is super important, and it’s a document that takes time to prepare. My clients are always amazed that it seems to take as long as writing a book! Most aspiring nonfiction authors write a book proposal prior to writing the book; it allows them to know if their idea is marketable. I suggest this when wanting to blog a book as well (or book a blog). Plus, writing a book proposal gives you a good idea if YOU are ready to become an author. You have to look at your platform and at what it takes to promote your book and decide if you are willing to do what it takes to be the kind of business partner a publisher is looking for.

      A list is important, and you want to have contact with your list regularly. You can send a message with WordPress, but I suggest you create a list using Aweber or Constant Contact and use this. In this way readers are opting and and saying you can contact them about other things besides blog posts–even your books, courses, teleseminars–whatever. Opting in on WordPress really only gives you permission to tell them about blog posts.
      Nina Amir recently posted..How To Pick A Topic For Your Blogged BookMy Profile

    • Srinivas says:

      Beth,

      Based on my experience talking to published authors you want to have an ongoing relationship with that list. I’ve always believed that the people who comment on your blog are not an accurate representation of your readership because they tend to be other bloggers. I think if you’re communication is too infrequent the list can go a bit stale. I learned that lesson the hard way.
      Srinivas recently posted..How Freshbooks Has Grown to Over 5 Million Users with Mike McDermentMy Profile

  4. lynda s says:

    i am a little confused by the picture (a complete turnoff) on the article. Is this the author? And I should take the advice of someone who used a boudoir shot to convince me she knows the business? Or was it just a visual hook to get your male readers in? Enquiring minds would like to know…

  5. Liz says:

    Hi Srinivas,

    What do you think about creating a book for Kindle? I know it’s not the same as doing a full blown book deal with a publisher, but it might be a good way to get your feet wet.

    Any thoughts?
    Liz
    Liz recently posted..How To Create Special Reports For Your Online BusinessMy Profile

  6. I would LOVE a book deal. At present, I don’t have all of these things in place. I’ve only been problogging for four months, and it’s taking me some time to define my niche and produce valuable, and original content on a regular basis. I have a long way to go, but I’m committed.

    Thanks for this list. I can refer back to it as my blog gets stronger.
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted..A Writer’s First Loves: Betty, Nikki, & LangstonMy Profile

  7. Nina Amir says:

    Great article, Sri! What most bloggers don’t realize is that while you can blog your way to a successful blog, a successful book is a different story. Publishers want successful bloggers because they have proven that they can build an author platform–a fan base of potential readers (book buyers). But they then have to turn existing blog content into a book–content that wasn’t intended for a book.

    That’s why I recommend blogging with the intent of writing a book–blogging a book (not booking a blog). You can learn more about this in the post I wrote here on this blog: http://writetodone.com/2012/06/18/the-most-efficient-way-to-write-your-book-and-build-blog-readership-at-the-same-time/ or in my book, How to Blog a Book. At the very least, if you book your blog, begin with a content plan and then fit your existing posts into that content plan to create a good book–then write the missing content. That’s where you create a GOOD book that will sell, not just a bunch of blog posts.

    But you do need all the things mentioned in this post for sure–a platform, a SUPER DUPER promotion plan, an agent, etc. And you need to be more than just a blogger and a writer. I always say you need to wear a business hat along with your writer hat–in fact, wear it more often. That’s how you land a publishing deal or create a successful book (traditional or indie).

    Be prepared to work really hard on promotion and marketing — all the time.
    Nina Amir recently posted..How To Pick A Topic For Your Blogged BookMy Profile

  8. Archan Mehta says:

    Thank you, Srini, my friend, for contributing this guest post. It was wise on the part of the owners of this fabulous blog to feature your work. It is refreshing, like a breath of fresh air, to read your work here.

    As you know, I have been a fan of your blog for the longest time, but I must say: this is one of your best posts yet. Perhaps you reserve the right to show your best work when you write guest posts on other blogs, methinks?

    However, I am not sure about the appropriateness and relevance of the woman’s photo that accompanies your post. It would have been great to have featured a younger and more attractive woman to sell the image.

    Blogs are a new thing. In the past, there was no such thing as blogs.Writers did just fine even without a blog. Internet did not exist then and computers were out of the question.

    Yet, a great writer like V.S. Naipaul was able to publish his first great book in his 20s and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I am sure there are still writers out there who contribute fine work even without sitting in front of a computer screen. I would be interested in reading a survey or questionnaire to this effect.

    I have read about a writer, Ruskin Bond, who is popular in India.Bond never attended college and writes in long hand and does not own a computer. Bond has had a remarkable career even without the use of moden technology. Bond is also a journalist, columnist and contributes regularly to the papers. There are still people out there who contribute remarkable work because, in the end, talent is what matters. Cheers.

  9. Jevon says:

    I have dreams of getting a book deal since I have many great stories in mind (by my standards anyway). While I was never into social networking, and I had no concept of blogging, I realized its importance after reading several articles. So, I started my blog, and started networking socially, sigh.

    But actually, I’m really enjoying the blogging part. While my blog is average stuff, I think my book is original. Now if only I could get an agent to pick my query letter out of the slush pile. Thanks for the tips.
    Jevon recently posted..Great Regular Places to ThinkMy Profile

  10. Nina Amir says:

    Jevon,

    Go to a writer’s conference and meet some agents face to face. If they like your idea, your query will not end up in the slush pile when it arrives.
    Nina Amir recently posted..How To Pick A Topic For Your Blogged BookMy Profile

    • Jevon says:

      I would really like to go one. I’m always getting emails about them from Writer’s Digest. However, I’m still saving for admission, airfare, accommodation, and leave from work. Thanks for the suggestion Nina.
      Jevon recently posted..Great Regular Places to ThinkMy Profile

  11. Jean Brunson says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share this helpful information. I will take it to heart as I try to squeeze 36 hours out of every day. Somehow, it will get done.
    Jean Brunson recently posted..The Perks of Being a WriterMy Profile

  12. Ladies, let’s not forget that most romance books are written by women. That means that these male heroes we’ve fallen in love with have been created by a woman who knows exactly what a woman wants out of a man. Even the male romance writers are writing male characters that women want to fall in love with, not necessarily realistic men.
    If you think about it, even the heroines in romance books are not incredibly realistic. They either swoon too often or are too willing to kill people alongside the hero. Personally, I’d be in a nice place in-between passing out and murdering: I’d probably shriek, cower in fear and then run.
    Carmella Borchers recently posted..HomepageMy Profile