This is a guest post from MK Williams. MK has written and published multiple books under her own name and helped several authors realize their dreams of publishing their books as well. After having learned the ins-and-outs of self-publishing and independent publishing she is now on a mission to help aspiring authors get the answers they need, avoid money-traps, and navigate the process of self-publishing their first book.
Writing a book is an excellent path for bloggers who want to monetize their writing. It is a very natural progression for a writer to go from a blog to a book.
But what are the exact steps that you need to take? As someone who has helped multiple bloggers make this leap, here are the biggest things that you want to consider.
What Constitutes a Book?
First off, what is a book — exactly? When I say book, I mean at least 150 printed pages of your knowledge on a bookshelf.
A book is not a 20 page PDF that you use as a lead magnet for your subscriber list. It's also not a 10,000 word eBook that you give away for free on your blog.
I often see bloggers post that someone can download their free book on a topic, only to find that the word “book” has been applied too generously. Fifteen pages that you created on Canva to promote your online course is not a book.
Identify and Commit to Your Goal
If you have decided to write a book, there is likely some force driving you to make this commitment. After all, it takes time and energy (and money) to self-publish.
To be successful, you'll need to know what your goal is for this project. Your goal could be:
- to reach a new audience
- to make money
- to get speaking gigs
- to cross off “write a book” from your bucket list
Whatever the goal is, you need to stick to that. If it is a combination of these factors, know which is the primary driver and which ones are secondary.
If the primary goal is to spread your message to more people, that will guide you as you start to make decisions about how to publish, the platforms to use, how much to charge, what you can budget for cover design, etc. If your primary motivation is to generate income, you will address these decisions from a very different point of view.
There are no right or wrong answers to those decisions, but there are different avenues to explore when self-publishing. Some are lucrative, others are better for spreading your message far and wide. By understanding your goal you can more easily navigate the path ahead.
LeverageYour Existing Platform
As a blogger, you already have an audience. Use it!
While the intended reader for your book may not be your current readership, you'll still want to make your existing followers aware of your ambition to author a book.
Tell your loyal readers about the entire process. Tell them tales of drafting and editing. Share your cover concepts and do a title reveal. This is the audience that will support the book launch.
While you want to get the book out to people who haven’t heard your message before, you first need to get your current followers excited about the book. You may be surprised how many of your existing followers are authors and can provide you with some insights as well.
Use your network to promote the book. Even if you are a top blogger in your niche your book won't necessarily become a bestseller. You still need to promote your book through the channels that you would use to promote your blog. Otherwise, the news of your book will never travel outside of your corner of the internet.
Your readers can help spread the message far and wide, so can other bloggers. Reach out to your network of bloggers and offer them a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. Reconnect with podcasts that you have previously interviewed with and pitch new podcasts too. Aim to tell the whole world!
Understand the Differences Between Blog Readers and Book Readers
Not everyone reads blogs and even those that do will still look for a way to consume information offline. They want a deep dive on a topic and something that they can read before bed that won’t produce any blue light. They want books.
Publishing your message in book form is a fine balance between maintaining the same tone and familiarity that you have with your blog readers, and recognizing that many book readers may be a little off-put if the book reads too much like a blog.
Here are some tips to help you master this balance:
Only Refer to Your Blog Twice
As a blogger, you have spent a lot of effort trying to drive people to your blog. You only make money from ads or affiliates when people go to your blog. So it becomes a habit to say “check out my blog,” or to cross promote an existing post on your site. Don’t do this in your book.
You can mention that you have a blog, but try to cap it at two mentions. I’m giving you such a ridiculously low limit because I know you’re going to blow past it. As you review your manuscript, count how many times you reference your blog and if these references are necessary.
If people like your book, they will search out your blog. If they get the feeling that all you are doing in the book is plugging the blog, they will drop it and leave you a negative review.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that while a link in an eBook could take a user back to your blog, that doesn’t work for a printed copy of your book or an audiobook. You need to explain each concept so that it is a smooth experience
If your book just contains recycled blog articles people will feel like they could have saved the money and just read your blog. You need to include new content that has not been published before.
Also, you want to provide something new for those blog super fans who have purchased your book to support you.
Images and GIFs
You may be able to add more context to your blog posts with images. Maybe it is a photo from a recent trip or experience that you want to use to break up content and provide a nice visual. Or maybe it is a topical meme or GIF. This works well on the internet. But not in a book. And yes, I’m including eBooks with that.
Formatting an eBook is no small task. The file has to be responsive to a seemingly unlimited number of screen sizes, devices, and apps. An image may appear perfectly centered on a Kindle eReader, but could look wonky in the Kindle App a reader is using on their phone.
Going beyond the digital elements, it will cost you a lot more to produce each print book if you need full-color images on the interior. And it goes without saying that memes and GIFs are a non-starter because you don’t own that image.
Also, no one will be able to see any charts or images when they are listening to the audiobook. You’ll need to ensure that your message is clear without the support of these additional elements.
You are Already on Your Way
As a blogger, you already have a leg-up on so many other aspiring authors. For starters, you already write regularly. The biggest challenge to every writer who attempts to publish a book is actually writing the book. The writing habit that you have cultivated for your blog is one of your biggest assets.
You’ve also spent a good amount of time and energy researching your topic and refining your message. Getting the outline set will be a breeze for you compared to authors who are starting without this experience.
You don’t have to recreate the wheel to go from writing a blog to authoring a book. But you will need to transform your existing content so that it reads well in both formats.
I hope this information helps you to get started on your journey with self-publishing.