The Most Efficient Way to Write Your Book and Build Blog Readership (At the Same Time)

Many aspiring writers complain, “I know I need to blog, but I don’t have time. I’m too busy writing my book.”

Or, if they whine, “I’m so busy blogging in my attempt to build an author’s platform that I can’t find the time to finish my book.”

What’s an aspiring author like you to do? Simple. Blog your book.

That’s exactly what I did when I blogged my book. In fact, I blogged a book about how to blog a book, and I landed a book deal for it with Writer’s Digest Books. You can blog your way to a book deal, too. Or at least to a finished manuscript and an author’s platform.

Here’s the thing. Many bloggers have created successful blogs, gotten noticed by agents and publishers and ended up with blog-to-book deals—or “blooks.” In other words, they repurposed a huge amount of their blog content into a book. Bloggers like:

  • Pamela Slim, whose blog was turned into Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur and released in 2009 by Penguin/Portfolio; it contains about 70 percent new content and 30 percent blog posts.
  • Brett McKay, whose blog was turned into The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man and published in October 2009 by HOW Books; 75 percent of the book consists of articles taken from the blog and edited, and 25 percent of the book’s content is new material.
  • Christian Lander, whose blog was turned into Stuff White People Like, The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions, and released by Random House Trade Paperbacks in 2008; it consists of 50 percent new material including charts, graphs, and other work from graphic designers.

Of course, there’s also Julie Powell whose huge hit book and movie Julie & Julia was based on her blog, the Julie/Julia Project.

More recently, we’ve seen Martha Alderson get a book deal for her blog, The Plot Whisperer, Jill Smokler land one for Scary Mommy, Dmitry Samarov scoop one up for Hack, Grace Bonny score one for Design Sponge, Jill Abramson end up with one for The Puppy Diaries, and Kevin Cotter win one for My Ex-Wife’s Wedding Dress. And there are more…

Bloggers build author’s platforms

Why did they get deals? Simple. These bloggers created a platform, a readership, a fan base. The large number of loyal blog readers attracted agents and publishers to their blog like a magnet.

When these publishing professionals arrived at these blogs, they saw them as successfully test marketed books. And that’s what they were looking for: potential books to publish that were as close to a sure bet—bestsellers—as they could find, ideas that could be turned into books with a built in readership or a big market.

Plus, these bloggers had proven they could write and that they could promote. In fact, their content published in Cyberspace had already done the early promotion for the book. These bloggers had created an author’s platform for themselves by blogging.

Bloggers land publishing deals but don’t blog books

These bloggers did not, however, set out to write books. They just blogged. They did produce a heck of a lot of content, but with contracts in hand they then had to go back and search through all those posts and figure out how to craft them into a book. Imagine, for example, Gina Trapani going back through 5,000 blog posts she wrote on her blog, LifeHacker when she received her book deal from Wiley to find the posts she would include in her manuscript. That’s one heck of a big job.

If you want to have your book read like a book and not like a blog, you not only need to compile your old posts into a manuscript (“book your blog”) you need to do a fair amount of editing and revising—and possibly writing—to make it read well.  That’s why it’s much easier to actually blog a book rather than to book a blog.

Writers blog books using 9 steps

 

If you want to use your blog to write, or blog, your book and build an author’s platform, or readership at the same time, here are nine steps to help you do that easily, efficiently and quickly.

1. Choose your topic carefully: Choose a topic that attracts readers, that interests you and that interests a lot of people. If possible, choose a topic you feel passionate about since you’ll be writing about this subject for a while—even after you finish blogging your book. Pick a topic that motivates you to post and post often. Fiction writers should consider their market and readers when they develop their plot as well.

2. Create a business plan for your book. Take the time to look at the big picture for your blogged book and see it through the eyes of an acquisitions editor. This means going through what I call the book “proposal process”; this is how you create a business plan for both book and author. You don’t have to write a proposal, but you do need to compile the information necessary for a proposal. Study the markets, come up with a promotion plan, do a comparative study of both existing books and blogs, determine how you stack up against similar authors, what you need to do to build platform, etc.

3. Hone your topic for success: Based on the information gleaned in Step #2, position and angle your blogged book. Based on the blog and book competition, evaluate if and how you need to angle your blogged book. Make sure it is unique in the marketplace—the book store and the blogosphere.
4. Map out your book’s content. Do a huge “brain dump” of all the subjects you might cover in the book. You might consider using a mind map for this project. Take the topics you “dumped” and group related subjects into chapters. In other words, pick 5-10 main themes from the different subject areas; these become chapters. Group the other subjects by relevance into these chapters; these become content for the chapters.

If you are writing fiction or a memoir, you will want to map out your story arc or do a timeline of events you plan to include in your book. Then create a content plan delineated by chapters.

Your content plan should include material that will not appear on your blog. Having a few chapters, parts of all your chapters or some sort of extra content that will only be available in the printed version or ebook version of your blogged book offers an enticement to your blog readers and to a publisher to purchase it.

5. Break your content into post-sized pieces. Blog posts are short—between 250 and 500 words. The topics from #4 that you grouped into chapters constitute blog posts. Organizing and break down your chapters further by developing actual subheadings for each topic you will cover in each chapter. A 5,000 word chapter, for example, will have 10-15 subheadings.

If you are writing fiction or a memoir, you will want to break your story arc and time line down into vignettes or scenes you can easily write about in post-sized bits.

6.   Blog your book often and regularly. To build the kind of loyal fan base successful bloggers garner, you now need to blog your book on a consistent and frequent schedule. Sit down a minimum of twice a week—three to seven times a week is better—and write a short bit of your book (a post) in a word processing program so you create a manuscript. Then copy and past this post into your blogging program, and hit “publish.” This shouldn’t take you long—30-45 minutes, maybe an hour. If you write more than 500 words, break your piece into two posts.

7.  Publicize your posts. Share your work on your social networks. This is where having a promotion plan helps.

8.  Prepare a query and book proposal. Be ready for success. Hopefully you’ll be discovered by an agent or publisher. If not, you’ll need to go out and find one yourself. In either case, you’ll need a query letter and a book proposal. You also have the option of self-publishing your book. For this you don’t need a formal book proposal, but you will want to have a good business plan as you begin your new role as an indie publisher.  In all three scenarios you can use the information you compiled in step #2.

9.   Edit and revise. Even though you’ve blogged a book, you will still need to edit and revise your book. What you produced is just a first draft. Get professional editorial help after you revise the manuscript.

Blogging a book offers aspiring writers—you—the fastest and easiest way to write a book and promote it at the same time. You can get that manuscript finished and build the author’s platform you need to create a successful book—one that sells to readers and to publishers.

So, no more complaining.

A guest post by Nina Amir who motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals. She blogged her book, How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books), in five months on her blog by the same name.

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27 Responses to “The Most Efficient Way to Write Your Book and Build Blog Readership (At the Same Time)”

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  1. Great advice — for nonfiction writers. As a fiction writer, this solution doesn’t work for me. I do struggle with balancing my time between writing my novel and blogging. I’ve decided that the novel should win out, otherwise I’ll have nothing to offer.

  2. I very much enjoyed this post. Practical and timely. Especially the advice about working from the book structure back to the blog instead of trying to work the other way around. I am now in the process of taking five years of blogging and reworking it into the book so I am having one of those “I could have had a V8″ moments. Even for fiction I think it is useful to write the book and then blog about the creative process because people are always interested in looking behind the curtain to watch the wizard work.

    Darlene Chrissley, BA, MLS, MCC
    Creative Being and Master Certified Coach
    Author of Conversations for Power and Possibility
    Website and Blog http://www.darlenechrissley.com
    Follow me on Twitter @Lifescapers

    “Perhaps creativity is just intelligence having fun.”
    – George Scialabba

    • Nina Amir says:

      Darlene,

      Your “V8″ moment is being shared by many bloggers out there who are trying to “book” their blogs, or repurpose existing content into a book. This can be a much harder job than blogging a book, but it’s not impossible. In fact, most of the blog-to-book deals mentioned above were booked blogs. Use the same principles I mentioned and check out my blog for more information on how to repurpose posts. I did a whole series on booking blogs, a term coined by author and designer Joel Friedlander.

      Blogging about the creative process–and anything to do with your book–provides a wonderful way to promote your book and build readership.

      Nina
      Nina Amir recently posted..Does Previously Published Blog Content Turn Away Publishers?My Profile

  3. Great advice. I have discovered that some of my best book content is hiding in blog posts that originated in my most productive time of the day. We can’t afford to waste that content!
    Terry Hadaway recently posted..Your life is a Beatles songMy Profile

  4. Thomas Derry says:

    Thanks for the informative article. Have been trying to figure out how to balance both without going crazy (I’m going crazy), and so this really helps.
    Thomas Derry recently posted..How To Make Your Blog Look SexyMy Profile

  5. Steve Maurer says:

    This is a fantastic idea. This can also make writing the book more efficient.

    In blogging a book, you get instant feedback from your readers in the form of blog comments.

    This will allow you to tweak the final manuscript to perfection. For example, one idea or process that you thought was utterly fantastic may get less than rave reviews from your readers. Now you have the information and ability to change the content to fit your readership.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Steve at Maurer Copywriting
    Steve Maurer recently posted..What Your Writer Needs to KnowMy Profile

  6. I agree with Steve! Though like Monica, I’m interested in writing a fiction book. What fiction writers blogging books did you mean?
    Glori | Crazy Introvert recently posted..This Introvert’s Ideal Job… and a SecretMy Profile

    • Nina Amir says:

      Sorry, Glori, I can’t think of anyone off hand, and they aren’t “famous” writers. I just get emails from book blogging fiction writers often. They feel it makes them better writers, they get feedback and they build a loyal fan base.
      Nina Amir recently posted..Does Previously Published Blog Content Turn Away Publishers?My Profile

      • Ah, you’ve answered my question (same as Glori’s)! I have been thinking about blogging about my writing process. I’ve stayed away from that after reading (somewhere) that there were too many of those. Perhaps it’s time to try it.

        • Nina Amir says:

          These writers aren’t blogging about their writing process, Monica. They are blogging novels! Blogging about your writing process is a good idea if you want to promote your book before, during and after you write the book — and you don’t want to blog your book. Readers are always interested in an author’s process. However, unless you intent do write a book ABOUT writing process, that wouldn’t be the makings for a blogged book.
          Nina Amir recently posted..Does Previously Published Blog Content Turn Away Publishers?My Profile

  7. Daniela says:

    This is one of the best articles on writing I have recently read; informative and helpful. Thank you,
    Daniela
    Daniela recently posted..On ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’My Profile

  8. Ciara Conlon says:

    Very timely article for me Nina, I am about to embark on another blog project and write a book on the same subject I was wondering how I was going to fit it all it. Your advice will work perfectly for me. Thanks
    Ciara Conlon recently posted..Aspire to Email Zen with these 10 tipsMy Profile

  9. Amy I. Bloom says:

    I appreciate the motivation in this piece, as well as the practical 9 steps. It’s often far too easy to make excuses than to sit down and actually start a project!

    The thing is, so many folks getting book deals mostly because they have a platform and will make sales easier for publishing houses is really discouraging for many of us, who would like to be “old-fashioned” authors – that is, published because someone feels we not only have a story to tell, but the writer’s craft as well.

    What if you are a kick-ass writer, but have 20 people following your blog? (Um, like a friend, I know, not me ;-)
    Where does that leave you?
    Amy I. Bloom recently posted..Scriptic Prompt ExchangeMy Profile

    • Nina Amir says:

      Amy,

      I hear what you are saying, and you aren’t the first writer to moan about the need for platform to get noticed. In the world of nonfiction today, there is no way to get around this. It’s a fact of life; publishers want good business partners before they become your venture capital partners. As for fiction, you can simply be a good writer with a great idea. That said, if you have a platform, you are 100% more likely to land a book deal.

      The questions I ask most “old-fashioned” writers is this: How badly do you want to be published? How badly do you want to succeed or your book to succeed? If you want these things badly, it’s time to come into the present publishing age where “platform” has been the watchword for at least 11 years.

      How do I know this? Because I’ve just been asked to resubmit my very first proposal to the very first publisher I ever contacted. Prior to submitting to him, I submitted to a big agent in NYC. She contacted me and told me she loved my idea, I had written a superb proposal and I was a great writer—but I had no platform, so she couldn’t represent me. That’s when I first learned about platform. And that’s when platform began to be necessary for writers (especially nonfiction writers). I submitted that proposal in 2001.

      It took me at least four or five years to really start building platform seriously. I landed my first traditional publishing deal in 2011. Platform doesn’t happen overnight.

      Sorry to go on a tirade. If you are a kick-ass fiction writer, platform may not matter. If you are a kick-ass nonfiction writer, you will still need start laying some boards. And start doing it early.
      Nina Amir recently posted..10 Steps for Blogging a MemoirMy Profile

  10. Amy I. Bloom says:

    Thanks. I totally understand the benefits and necessity of platform. I do have a blog, and I’m on Twitter. I love the blog as a creative outlet, but sometimes I feel like the uncool kid in a popularity contest with so many “sucessful” blogs out there!

    It helps to know how long it took you. It seems like all you hear about are these overnight success stories!

    Thanks again,

    Amy
    Amy I. Bloom recently posted..Scriptic Prompt ExchangeMy Profile

  11. J. Johnson says:

    It really started with a blog, in a big empty space to be filled with words. Writer’s write, any where, any time – it is what they do. I turn my blogs into short stories and send them on to Amazon, why not – there may be many who could never find my blog but Amazon shows my stories to the world.

    I could blog about something, but it seemed natural to write what I write. It is a story, tell the story – some of my readers proof and edit – what more could I ask for?

    Like the apple, once a day keeps the blues away. Turn on the radio and be inspired by a crazy love song. Do it!
    J. Johnson recently posted..Things we do, often make no sense but we do them anywayMy Profile