During the month of October, we’re chatting about everything self-publishing—design, branding, marketing, formats—you name it! Pulling questions from Design by Insight clients, Re:Write Conference attendees, and you, we’ll take a look at what can often be a confusing and potentially overwhelming subject. Have a question you’d like me to answer? Leave it in the comments!
Miss a day? Visit the main post for links to each day.
As many of you navigate the challenge of writing for 31 days straight, you may consider turning the content into an e-book after the series ends. The question for today is one that many bloggers ask from time to time (31 days series or not):
I have a series on my blog that might make a good e-book, but I’m just not sure. How do I know if I should make it into a book or not?
Many bloggers have taken post content and used it to create e-books. There are some quality e-books available that fall in this category—31 Days to Clean, Scary Hope, and 31 Days of Faith to name a few.
So how did the authors of these books make the successful transition from blog series to book? Why does it work for them? And will it work for you?
The books above have several things in common that answer these questions.
Let’s be honest, if the subject matter isn’t “book-worthy,” it shouldn’t be a book. Each of these e-books meets a felt need. 31 Days to Clean appeals to women who struggle to keep their houses clean and need to learn how to manage their homes so that messiness doesn’t get in the way of the rest of life. Scary Hope exhorts readers to stop letting fear keep them from pursuing their dreams. 31 Days of Faith gives an encouraging and personal look at how to have faith in the midst of hardship. In each case, the premise is a great book idea, blog series or not.
Does your blog series have compelling content that meets a need? Is it a subject people want to purchase a book about?
Good Reader Response
When a series is posted on a blog, the reader responses give a good indication as to whether or not a book on the subject would be well received. After all, your blog readers are in most cases going to be your biggest customers, at least in the beginning. If your series has received positive feedback, created good conversation via comments, email and social media, and has received steady traffic, it probably has potential as a book.
Revised and Expanded Content
Taking your blog posts and putting them into one document usually isn’t enough to make your book successful. To create an effective book, you need to look at your content and determine how it will best fit together as a book. Ask yourself if it is “meaty” enough to be a book. Write more content if necessary. Revise and organize. Each of the examples above did this.
Consider whether or not your book should stay in the 31 chapter format. Two of the books I listed did, and it works well for both of them. Scary Hope did not, and it works much better for that particular book. In fact, you would not realize it had originally been a 31 day series if the author did not tell you. This is one of those cases where either direction could be right depending on your particular project.
Make sure the posts you’ve turned into chapters flow well together. When you are writing for your blog, the posts are often written so they can stand alone, even when part of a series. That doesn’t work in a book. You don’t want the finished project to feel disjointed. You want the reader to forget that the book used to be a series of posts. It needs to read like it was written with a book in mind.
Above all, once you have compiled and expanded your content, hire an editor. Every writer needs an editor, no matter how great they are. There are simply things you will not see when reading your own work. You need another set of eyes, well-qualified and experienced eyes. to take your work to the next level. The editor will also be able to help you determine if the content flows well.
Make it worth the purchase.
Some of my clients have struggled with the idea of making people pay for content they used to get for free. Remember that your readers will appreciate easy, well organized content. They will appreciate expanded content. It’s always best to be upfront with readers and let them know that the book contains content from your blog. But don’t feel bad about it. If the content is truly book-worthy and you expand and put it together well, it will be worth the purchase.
If you read this and realize that your series just doesn’t fit the bill, don’t be discouraged. Providing quality content on your blog is what your blog is there for. It’s better to realize now that your series isn’t meant to be an e-book than to release it and regret it later.
You may realize that your blog series holds great potential for an e-book. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a 31 day series at all! You may have a five part series that is begging to be developed further. The point here is to assess the quality material you have written, observe your readers’ responses, and make a determination about the future of your content.