If you’re a successful blogger, you may be wondering how to take the next step and raise your blog to the next level. The answer is simple: a book.
Turning your blog into a book comes with a huge range of benefits. A book can either become another revenue stream or a lead generation tool to expand your mailing list. As a blogger, you’ll also be able to attract built-in fans when you publish your book — not to mention the new, wider audience that you’ll be able to reach through this new format. And here’s the cherry on top: you’ll already have much of the content written down already in your blog.
So it’s no wonder why the blog-to-book trend is gaining steam — and why more and more bloggers are turning their hand to writing a book these days. If you’re interested in joining them, this post will lay out a simple 5-step process on how to do it.
1. Focus the scope of your book
The great thing about blogging is that you have the freedom to talk about whatever you want. But what the most successful bloggers have realized is that your core blog readers come to read your thoughts on a few broad topics. If you’re pollster Nate Silver, for instance, most of your blog subscribers will want your opinion on the recent presidential debate — not your hot takes on the latest season of Stranger Things.
How do you know what readers want from you? Well, you can keep track of which of your posts have received the most comments and shares. That tends to be a good indicator of your blog’s primary focus, and a good first step to take when you’re planning the stepping stones for your book.
But, of course, there’s more: a book differs from a blog in that its focus needs to be even tighter in order to truly provide value for readers. You’re going to want to scratch a particular itch, which brings us onto our next point…
2. Identify a problem that your readers have
Sometimes when we talk about writing non-fiction, we tell people to ask themselves the three biggest W questions: What is it about? Why does it matter? Who will want to read it?
Now, keep that in mind as you consider this other tried-and-true generalization: in non-fiction, you’re always looking to solve a problem that your reader has.
This problem could be anything from “I’m paying too much in taxes” or “I want to get better at karate” to “I want to know what it’s like to be in the Bolshoi Ballet.” Almost every successful non-fiction book has a compelling hook that starts with identifying something that the reader wants (even if they don’t know it).
To apply this advice to your own blog-to-book, dig deep into the problem that your blog solves for your readers. Why do they come to you and not other bloggers? How are you providing indelible value to them? If you’re stuck, consider using survey templates to ask readers exactly why they land on your blog. Once you figure this out, then you’ll have the premise upon which you can base your book.
3. Create an outline that will ‘fix’ this problem
If you’ve been following steps one and two with your blog, then this step should be quite straightforward. You want to put together a structure for your book that will help fix the problem you’ve identified, while also (ideally) entertaining and delighting your reader. Though it’s often interesting to play with a twisty narrative and intentionally confuse your audience in fiction, you will likely want to prioritise a more conventional linear structure for your non-fiction work.
At some point in this process, you will want to begin work on your book proposal. This a document that you will pitch to agents and editors if you’re publishing traditionally. Among other things, the proposal lays out what your book will be like and contains a detailed structure of your prospective manuscript. Even if you intend to self-publish and turn your book into a Kindle success, a proposal will serve as a blueprint for the writing stages.
Of course, you won’t write your proposal in a day, and you might find it useful to work simultaneously on the next step.
4. Find out what existing content you already have
With your proposal and structure in hand, a good next step would be to search through your blog archives and see if anything you’ve already written can be adapted. Of course, your book should not simply be a “greatest hits” of your blog (although, some bestsellers are just that). Your first prospective buyers are your followers, so don’t make them pay for something they’ve already read for free.
Instead, you can use your existing content as part of a first draft and slot the posts into place, like you would with a jigsaw. Your opinion or understanding of the topic may have changed since you first blogged about it, so you might actually want to revise or scrap the original post. And that’s fine: this stage is just about finding out what you have so that you can…
5. Create new content to fill the gaps
This is the good old-fashioned act of sitting down and writing your book. The difference is that a lot of hard work has already been done. If the blank page is a natural enemy of yours, then having a living outline with some portions pre-written can truly help you get to the end of your first draft. Yes, at this point, the work of editing and rewriting your manuscript has only just begun. But by then, you’ll have already cleared the first big hurdle on your way to publishing a book that’s worthy of your most avid readers.