Turning my blog into a book (How to Write a Novel) is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I’ve reached new readers, it’s a handy calling card at conferences, and I’ve now sold tens of thousands of copies.
But it’s not a walk in the park.
If you want to just cobble a bunch of blog posts together and hit publish on an e-book, I have some bad news for you: Your book is going to suck.
How do I know? I initially tried to do this! I thought I could simply compile my “best of” posts into a guide to writing a novel, only to realize that simply stringing a bunch of blog posts together made for a really terrible book. Instead, I got back to work writing a book. On how to write a book. It was meta.
Here’s how to turn your blog into a successful book.
Hone in on your book idea
Think of your blog as a jumping off point, rather than something that is going to translate directly into a book.
Where you take your book depends a great deal on the particulars of your blog, but it’s crucial to think independently about what’s going to make a great book.
For instance, for my guide I used some of my existing blog posts as a base, but I fleshed out gaps, polished and expanded on the posts I was drawing upon, and created exclusive material so people were getting something truly of value for their money.
Think beyond your blog. Pulling together some of your “best of” posts might give you a starting place, but you’re going to need to make it more than that if you want a great book.
Along those lines…
Know your genre
Figure out where your book would sit on a bookstore shelf. Is it going to be a novel? Is it memoir? Is it self-help? Is it a guide?
Then familiarize yourself with the conventions of that genre and the other similar works that have been successful.
For instance, memoirs aren’t a series of clever anecdotes. There is usually an overarching story and plot, like a novel, that ties everything together.
Self-help tends to be structured in an organized fashion so people can dip in and out depending on what they need.
Knowing your genre will help you flesh out your book idea and will make sure you don’t end up with a book that’s “a little of this and a little of that,” which could dampen your ability to sell it.
Decide how you want to publish it
Do you want to try to find a traditional publisher? Do you want to self-publish it?
If you have a popular blog, a (very, very) rough rule of thumb is that if you have achieved the level of popularity that will result in a publisher buying your book simply because you’re just that popular, you probably have already heard from someone in the publishing industry.
Otherwise, you’ll have some decisions to make. Ask yourself these questions to decide whether you want to go through the traditional publishing process or cut to the chase and self-publish. Familiarize yourself with the process so you can make the best choices for your book idea.
Why do you have to decide all of this before you’ve even started writing the dang book?
If you’re going to write a novel, or if you’re writing a memoir, you have to write the whole shebang either way. Yep. The whole novel. (In which case you should check out my aforementioned guide to writing a novel).
Consider getting help
If you already have a wealth of content, consider how you can leverage other people to give you a boost so you can focus on creating your primary content and be more efficient.
For instance, for an upcoming guide I’m working on, I hired a friend to pull together some of my existing posts together as a starting place for me to polish and refine from there, rather than doing all that leg work myself. Or you could consider a ghostwriter to flesh things out.
I’m available for book consultations and editing if you need someone to help you along the way, and if I’m not the right fit I’m more than happy to connect you with the right person.
If you have a blog, especially a well-trafficked one, you already have a leg up in that you have a core audience who will be inclined to buy your book. From there, you may be surprised how well your book reaches people who have never even heard of your blog.
Best of all, as nice as it is to maintain a blog, there’s nothing quite like feeling the heft of a paperback book in your hands after you’ve translated everything into book form.
What are you waiting for?
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.
Art: Zan Zig advertising poster