Blogging can be very powerful. Not only when it comes to getting freelance clients but also when publishing your book.
This interview with Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time, gives a few tips on how to blog a book.
Bamidele: You believe it’s better to “blog a book” than to traditionally or independently publish a book. Can you please explain the concept of blogging a book and why you think it’s a better way to approach publishing?
Nina: I wouldn’t say it’s better to blog a book than to traditionally or independently publish a book. I’d say blogging a book is the easiest and quickest way to write your book and promote it at the same time—to complete a first draft and develop an author’s platform concurrently. When you are done, even though you have published your book on your blog, you may still want to self-publish your book or seek a traditional publisher if one has not found you. Part of the reason you might want to blog a book revolves around developing a successful blog that attracts agents and publishers as well as readers.
When you blog a book you plan out your book concept and your content in great detail just as you would with a book you planned to write in any other fashion. Then you break it down into post sized bits—250-500 word pieces—and write them, first, in a word processing program, and then copy and paste them into your blog program on a weekly schedule—2-7 times per week.
As I said, it’s not a better way to approach publishing. It’s a better way to approach writing your book because you quickly get your book written. For example, I completed the first draft of my book, How to Blog a Book, in five months writing 3-4 times a week for 30-60 minutes each time and producing an average of about 350 words. The manuscript was about 26,000 words long. (The finished book is more than double that length, however.) As I wrote the book, I promoted the posts—the book—simply by publishing my work on the internet and by sharing those blog posts on my social networks. This attracted readers and subscribers to the blog and followers and fans to my social networks.
In other words, by blogging my book I build an author platform, a fan base of potential readers for my book as I wrote it. This helped me land a traditional publishing deal and later, when the book was released, get the book on the Amazon bestseller list in 3 categories and keep it there for 23 weeks (to date). Had I self-published, it also would have helped me sell more books.
Bamidele: What are 3 important questions anyone willing to blog a book should ask themselves?
Nina: The same questions most writers of any book should ask themselves:
- Is my idea viable, meaning marketable?
In the process of answering this first one, they must answer the other two:
- What’s my market, and is it big enough or does it really need this book? (To answer the second part of this question, they must ask: Will my book add value?)
- What’s my competition? (But when blogging a book, they must look at the competition in both the bookstore and in the blogosphere and decide if their book will be unique compared to other books and blogs that already exist.)
Last, I’d also recommend that they ask themselves if they are passionate about their topic. They will need to keep blogging about the topic even after they complete the book. So, they better like it a lot.
Bamidele: How can the internet help writers who want to publish a book?
Nina: The Internet helps aspiring writers by giving them a place to be “discovered.” They can create a website in cyberspace that acts as their “home” or “storefront” where reader and book buyers can find them. For that to happen, however, that website can’t just be a brochure, a static website. It must be dynamic. For that change to occur, they must have a blog. A blog offers constantly changing content filled with keywords and keyword phrases. This is what the search engines catalog. If you blog often and consistently, all that keyword-rich content will eventually cause your site to rise up in the search engine results pages and you might actually find your website listed on the #1 Google search engine results page (the first page that comes up when you do a search on Google). That means you and your book(s) are “discoverable.” A blog actually can serve as your website. You need nothing else.
Bamidele: Can ANY writer publish a book today following the “blog a book” approach?
Nina: Yes, any writer can blog a book—novelists, memoirists, nonfiction writers, poets, essayists—if they have a viable book idea. Even bad writers end up with bestselling books; many hire ghostwriters and editors to turn bad or mediocre writing into great writing.
However, not all content deserves to become a book. Not every blog deserves to become a book. You have to plan out your blogged book and go through the process of determining if your idea and your content are worthy of publication.
Bamidele: Is it possible to blog a book in any niche imaginable, or are there specific niches that tend to work better? If there are specific niches, how do writers determine if their niche is viable?
Nina: You could feasibly blog a book in any niche. Nonfiction is easiest to blog, but even fiction is being blogged these days.
When you set out to blog a book, you pick a niche so in the same manner as with any book you want to write. You do research. Decide if that niche needs your book. Decide if your book is unique in that niche. Decide if the niche is big enough to provide the kind of sales you want. This is the same as market research.
Bamidele: You emphasize the importance of being more than just a writer or blogger but a “business person”. How important do you think marketing is when blogging a book? Why isn’t being a writer or a blogger enough?
Nina: Publishing is the business of selling books. Writers write books. Publishers print them and sell them. They want to make money. They are looking not only for writers with good ideas but for great business partners. Remember, publishers are actually venture capital partners for aspiring authors. A writer who wants to be an author—to get a book published—goes to a publisher and asks that businessperson to back the project—to pay for everything related to getting the book to market (and to pay him or her an advance on SALES while he or she finishes writing the book. This is a business transaction. The publisher will decide whether or not to do business with the writer based on the viability of the IDEA and the viability of the business partner. The later comes down to how many books the writer might be able to HELP SELL. That’s business, not writing.
In fact, if the writer’s manuscript needs some help—the writing itself is not up to par—that can be fixed by the publisher’s editorial staff. If the writer doesn’t have an author’s platform, a built in readership for the book or a large fan base ready to run out and purchase the book when it is released, and a super duper promotion or marketing plan, that can’t be fixed.
For a nonfiction writer, the primary things a publisher looks at are the book idea (and how it will be carried out), the writer’s platform and the promotion plan. The latter shows if the writer is a good business partner. For a nonfiction writer, a platform and promotion plan is essential; you won’t land a traditional deal without it. For a fiction writer, it’s enormously helpful. These show the writer can help sell books. They will make good business partners.
I will mention, though, that blogging builds platform. It’s a great strategy to employ as part of your promotion plan as well.
Bamidele: As “business people,” marketing is definitely a huge part of the game. What marketing tactic(s) do you think is most effective for someone who wants to publish a book?
Nina: It really depends upon the book and the person. Marketing and promotion take up a ton of time—or can. I love blogging because it ties easily into my social networks. It spreads the work about things effectively if you have readers to your blogs. I’ll mention a few other tactics I use or recommend, but your readers should try them and see what works best for them in their markets.
- Ezine article marketing
- Press releases
- Radio interviews
- Podcast interviews
- Blog tours and guest blog posting
- Blogging on bigger sites
- Social networking
Bamidele: I’d love to hear more about the “book proposal process” you explained in your book. Can you please give us some insight into this?
Nina: Sure! Basically you go through all the different parts of a nonfiction book proposal prior to writing your book to evaluate yourself and your book idea.
By looking at yourself and your concept through the eyes of an acquisitions editor at a publishing house, you will be able to determine if you are ready to become an author and to produce a successful book—one that sells to lots of readers as well as to a publisher (if you want a traditional publishing deal). If not, you’ll know what you need to do to become a better publishing partner for a publisher or a better self-publisher. Remember, if you self-publish, YOU are the publisher and must wear that business hat and know how to sell books. The process also helps you determine if your idea is ready either to be written and self-published or to be proposed to an agent or acquisitions editor or if it needs to be tweaked in some way.
Plus, as you go through the process, you’ll accumulate the necessary information to put into a book proposal, should you want to write one, or to put together a business plan for your indie book.
For those interested in this process, I have a workbook for sale on my website called How to Evaluate Your Book for Success.
If you want to learn more about the concepts Nina explained in this interview and take a leap towards blogging your own book, make sure you get a copy of Nina’s book; How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time