Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Today's Blog, Tomorrow's Book

Last year, I was asked to contribute an entry to Anne Wainscott-Sargent’s blog, The Writing Well. She was competing with herself on a challenge of writing 30 blogs in 30 days, which is a significant amount of work. That, coupled with her rigorous guidelines on content valuable to her writer readers, made the task tough and begged for co-authorship. Her friends and colleagues came out in force. Many people have asked me to repeat/update my entry, “Today’s Blog, Tomorrow’s Book,” for this year.  So, here it is:

Since my entry last May, not much has changed in the world of blogging: Technically, there are more options to post but the process is the same: type, share. Purpose-wise, it continues to be a robust floor for idea exchange, leading to engaging discussion and innovation. I’ve watched several of my clients successfully use blogging as a prototype to more formal work, beta-testing their opinions and conclusions to the judgment of the public before including them in dissertations, screenplays, and books.

Blogs get our thoughts together. We get a chance to emote, then retreat. Blogs provoke thought and online discussion. When carefully composed, blogs lend themselves to becoming sections or chapters on their own; and when organized, they can flow into a valuable addition to a genre – especially business books and memoirs.  

If you’re thinking about developing your blogs into a book, here is my updated list of things to consider:

1. Identify your expertise. Previously, I said “Identify your passions.” However, I have found that passions may not have deep reserves and sometimes fizzle out quickly. The idea is the same though: You’ve likely covered many topics in your blogs. Review them for threads or trends to identify the focus of your book. What are you most knowledgeable about?

2. Decide the structure and function of the book. Know your competition in the space you are writing and define your goals in publishing.

3. Know your audience. Know what the readers want and expect. You are selling it to them, not writing it for you (unless you just want to keep it in your basement!). 

4. Generate content. And more content. This has always been the case, as writers from centuries ago can confirm. When you’re ready to publish a book, you’ll be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

5. Find other sources of inspiration. Read. Listen to music. Interview other professionals. These will add texture to your overall products.

6. Follow your blog voice. You will want to reach your readers the same way in your book as you did in your blog. Make sure the writing is consistent, and as formal as you need it to be in both places.

7. Do your research. Look up facts and spelling. Play Clouseau by following a hunch and getting evidence, even if it’s in a quirky way. Just make sure the facts are right. It’s an easy way to build your credibility and keep your readership.

8. Use the Rule of Time Travel.  A Journalism-school rule: Enhance your work with wisdom from the past, examples from the present, and characters in the future.

9. Know when to stop. Be brief, be brilliant, be done. Don’t risk losing your readers’ attention.

10. Get an editor. Or two. Each one will give you different feedback. Do you need an editor who knows your subject matter or not? Give it some thought before paying one. The results will be different.

There you go: an updated list that will help you prepare for assembling your own tome. When you’re ready to take on a book-writing project, know that it can be a smoothly-vectored transition from blog to book. It can increase your platform as an expert, and give your blog followers a treat. Be a little cautious, follow these recommendations, and you’re more likely to leave a lasting impression.

As CEO of Write Advisors, Bonnie Bajorek Daneker helps clients express themselves digitally and in print. Author of The Compassionate Caregiver Series®, Bonnie released her seventh book, CLIMB, in November 2010, with Sandy Hofmann, President of Women in Technology (WIT). Her most recent book, Publishing as a Marketing Strategy, is co-written with five other contributors and was released November 2011. She holds a BA in Journalism from The Ohio State University and an MBA in Strategic Planning and Entrepreneurship from The Goizueta School of Business at Emory University.  

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