I don’t know many bloggers who started blogging because their writing aspirations can be accomplished by merely publishing their thoughts on a website they built by themselves. A large majority of them, especially now, likely wanted to write a book (or two).
They have dreams of seeing their words printed in book form, and doing book signings at Barnes & Noble one day.
But the process of pursuing publishing can seem pretty overwhelming. And honestly, it is. Book publishers are requiring writers to have a large platform, and to leverage that platform to sell the book. They get dozens (if not hundreds) of new proposals in their inbox every day, so it takes almost a perfect storm to even get your stuff noticed in order to be considered for publishing.
I know this, because I’m one of those bloggers. No dream of mine ever seemed as impossible as the one of getting published one day.
That is until I talked to an author friend of mine. He asked me to look at what I’ve done over the years on my blog. So I quickly installed the WP Word Count plugin and realized that (at that time) I had over 300,000 words of content published on my website.
He told me that the average 200-page book is usually around 60,000 words, so I’ve already written several books! Not to mention that I have hundreds of dedicated readers who keep coming back to read more. From that perspective, I had already accomplished way more than most other (traditionally) published writers!
So I started looking for my first book that was already living somewhere in those blog posts.
To make a long story short, I found a series that I had written that became the foundation for my first book, The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter.
I self-published that book, and was able to leverage it in a way that helped me quickly land two more book deals with traditional book publishers (one small start-up, and one large established).
Blog Posts as a Foundation for a Book
If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, then chances are you have a book somewhere in your blog too. Depending on how you manage your content, look for series that you’ve written, or for posts you’ve grouped into specific categories or tags.
When you pull a list of those blog posts, you may find a theme that emerges with sections or chapters already written.
One WordPress plugin that can help you with this is called Anthologize. It allows you to organize blog posts into a book format you can download in a variety of formats.
Regardless of how you organize it in a tool like Anthologize, it’s still a good idea to download it in a format that you can edit so that you can clean up, and possibly enhance what you’ve pulled together directly from the blog.
Sometimes the book could be simply a series of blog post/essays that you’ve written, other times (as I did) you may want to write more context around those blog posts.
Start Writing That Book
If you don’t have a book that’s already written in old blog posts, or if you just want to start with a fresh idea, then you can start a series of blog posts on the theme you want to write about. Map out your ideas for a series that covers the core ideas that you want to write about, and then start writing the blog posts to complete that series.
One of the best things about writing a book as a series of blog posts first is that you get reader feedback throughout the process. Engaging in conversation through blog comments will help you work out and fine tune the ideas before you put them on paper for your final published version.
Some writers who have used this approach will eventually pull down the blog posts from their website once they’ve been published in book or e-book format.
However, if the blog posts only make up 50% or less of the total content of the book, and/or if you end up revising them a great deal (based on reader feedback) before publishing, then you may want to keep the posts (and SEO keyword juice) on your blog.
If you keep them, then make sure you come back later and update them with the Amazon (or other download) link in order to convert new readers into book or e-book sales.
The publishing industry is going through some massive changes, and getting published isn’t as hard as you think. There’s a lot more to the strategy for how you distribute and market your book, but if you’re a writer, then you need to know that you don’t have to wait on the traditional publishing industry to discover you.
You can brush off some of that old content, clean it up, and re-purpose it in a way that will help you continue to grow your platform.