Writing a book from scratch can be daunting. But if you have a blog, you’re more than one step head. No matter what your subject focus, your blog is a repository of your insights, experiences, and interests – and with a little thoughtful editing, it is content that can be turned into a book.
And there are lots of reasons to do it. Some people turn their blogs into books as a way to promote their expertise. Others create blog books to raise awareness for their cause. Others use their blog books to pitch their book idea to traditional publishers.
And still others just want a physical artifact that contains their online writing, like Jan, author of a blog-to-Blurb book entitled Wasting Film Is Not a Crime did. Aself-described analog guy who shoots film, listens to vinyl records and loves reading books, Jan says “I just wanted something ‘real’ that I could touch and feel and show to my friends”
No matter what your reason for going from blog to book, here are a few simple things to keep in mind:
Be picky. Books and blogs are totally different reading experiences, so they require different tactics. Tokyo-based designer and blogger hiki, creator of //// // things that make me smile ///////// describes the difference between a reading a blog and a book: “You can always scroll down or click “show older posts” to see the past posts, but if it is in a book it makes it easier to recollect captured moments that might be half-forgotten if just buried on a blog.”
So, how do you decide what blog material to showcase? A good way to start is to organize your existing blog posts into categories or themes and map it against the kind of material you want in your book. Notice where the two overlap – that’s your usable content. Discard content on your blog that doesn’t fit in with your book’s theme or gist, no matter how well it was received online, and make careful note of where more content will be needed. At the very least, you will probably need to write an introduction and conclusion just for your printed book.
Blurb book maker and blogger Rhishja Cota-Larson, author of Murder, Myths, and Medicine, describes the process:
“I wanted to present the story of the rhino crisis in a more compact manner than a blog, which in my case, contains over 500 articles. In preparation for writing my book, I organized my blog posts into core themes, which became the book’s chapters. If you discover a blog, you might come in at the middle of the story, so to speak, and without a backstory, a one-off article might have less impact. But with a book, there is the familiar format of a beginning, middle, and conclusion, so that even someone who is new to the topic can grasp it.”
Get a second reader. Consider the material on your blog to be a first draft, rather than the final product. Even the greatest, most experienced writers need feedback to make their work shine. Constructive criticism from an intelligent, insightful reader helps take your work to the next level and eliminates errors you might be inadvertently glossing over. You’ll need another pair of eyes on the material before you put it in print to make sure your narrative is strong, the flow or sequencing makes sense, and your writing (or photography) is as clear and compelling as it can be.
If you want to really stand out, consider hiring a professional editor to help you refine your narrative and material. We’ll cover how to hire a book coach in a future post, but for now, just know that hiring a pro can make a real difference and can help save you time and money down the line.
Self-publish with the Blurb platform. Once you know what you’re going to be putting in your book – and what you’re not – the hard part is over. Pat yourself on the back! And then login to Blurb and get your book going. Here’s how:
- Just fire up Blurb BookSmart® (be sure you have downloaded the latest version).
- Choose “New Book” in the File menu and start the Blog Slurper (currently for use with Blogger, LiveJournal, and TypePad blogs).
- Choose which blog entries, and comments you want to include and let the slurping begin.
And don’t worry, you can customize as you like to create a curated collection of posts, complete with added material – for example, an introduction or conclusion – as you see fit.
[Please note: If your blog is self-hosted (i.e. you’ve got your own domain and your blog doesn’t have something like “typepad” or “livejournal” in its URL) you can’t use BookSmart directly. But don’t worry – we’ve got a simple workaround.]
Word to the wise: Always make and order a proof book before placing a big order. It’s just a smart thing to do and chances are that you’ll see something in your proof book that you’ll want to change. Oh, and one more tip from Blurb author Kristin Espinasse (author of the très popular French Word-a-Day) that’s a simple way to boost sales: “Add a page at the end of your book and let people know about upcoming books or where to go to order more books.”
Now that we’ve gotten the nuts and bolts out of the way, time for some inspiration. Here are some stellar Blurb books that started out as blogs. From design to local history to photography, they’re examples of how a good blog can become a great book.
Rhishja Larson of Annamiticus Media
A printed book is a compelling and authoritative way for this blog to get the word out about the plight of rhinos.
Jan, of Wasting Film Is Not a Crime
Berlin-based photographer Jan created a beautiful physical record of his black-and-white photos of daily street life.
This Tokyo-based designer turned Instagram photos on her blog into a lovely book to sell in her design shop.
Nelson Ryland, of the Ditmas Park Blog
Photographers from Brooklyn collaborated on a blog that they turned into a book to create a permanent record of their neighborhood’s secret life.
The Daily Dish at The Daily Beast
Editors of the Daily Dish took user-submitted photos of views and arranged them chronologically to mimic one beautiful day around the world.
Thomas Melin, of Elvis Today
When you’re an expert on a subject like Elvis Presley, you clearly need a blog and a book.
Design. Subject expertise. Photography. Historical records. Good causes. All good reasons to turn your blog into a book.