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From Blogger to Book Author: The 4-Step Guide

This guest post is by Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.

Some bloggers don’t start a blog to make money. They start blogging, because they have a message that the world needs to hear. In other words:

Some bloggers blog to get published.

Recently, I signed a contract with a book publisher. I had always hoped to one day publish a book, but I never thought it would happen in a few months.

What made this possible? In a word: blogging.

Planning a book

Image copyright Lasse Kristensen - Fotolia.com

If you want to go from blogger to book author, you’ll need to do a few things. But the pay-off can be significant.

Why you should publish a book

With the rising popularity of ebooks and self-publishing, why should you go with a traditional publisher?

Why even write a book at all? Doesn’t a blog suffice?

Well, no. Not always. In some cases, self-publishing (especially your first book) may not be a good idea.

Reasons to work with a publisher

Although self-publishing can work just fine, there are still some legitimate reasons to go traditional:

  • Marketing: A publisher will offer its resources and knowledge to help you not only promote your book, but consider the marketability of it before it’s published.
  • Editing: A publisher will help you with the actual writing, as well as proofreading and copyediting. Normally, you would have to pay someone to do this or do it yourself.
  • Authority: There is still a great deal of social clout when it comes to having a published book from a reputable publisher. Publishing a book will make you more of an authority in your niche.

Of course, some authors make good money off ebooks without ever going through a publisher. So this may not be for everyone. But it’s at least worth considering. (Even Darren and Chris G. released their Problogger book through Wiley. It’s not about money as much as it’s about influence.)

If you’re interested in becoming a published author, there are the three steps you’ll need in your path to publishing.

Step 1: Build a platform

All publishers want to know the same thing: Do you have a platform?

In other words, are you “legit”? Do you have the audience and authority to speak on a particular topic? Money is so tight in publishing that if authors don’t bring their own marketing chops, they have little hope of succeeding.

A platform can range from a podcast to a television program; however, in our case, we’re going to assume it’s a blog.

Why a blog is a great platform

Blogs are great for authors, because of the following reasons:

  • A blog allows you to practice writing.
  • A blog allows you to capture email addresses (with a service like Feedburner or Aweber).
  • A blog allows you to communicate a core message over time.

My blog has been instrumental in helping me find my voice as an author, as well as providing some content that I’m actually re-purposing for my upcoming book.

Step 2: Release a manifesto

Once you’ve built a blog and starting building a decent audience, you can now work on something that articulates your core beliefs: a manifesto.

A manifesto is a short, actionable ebook that you give away for free. The point of it is to spread idea and help you connect with your tribe (i.e. people who share your beliefs).

This can also be a great way to capture attention, by exchanging the ebook for people’s email addresses. I grew my email list from 75 to 1000 subscribers in a week, thanks to a manifesto. And it also caught the attention of my publisher. It works.

If writing a manifesto sounds hard or overwhelming to you, don’t worry. It’s not.

The DIY way to publish a manifesto

  • Find the content. Dig up an old blog post or series of posts that resonated with your readers.
  • Develop it. Build upon your original idea and edit out what’s irrelevant.
  • Finish writing. Shoot for 1000-10,000 words long. It needs to clearly communicate one, important idea. The shorter you can make it, the better.
  • Create it. You can do this through a program like Word or Pages (for Mac), or you can use a slide presentation program like PowerPoint or Keynote and export as a PDF. Michael Hyatt also has a great seven-step tutorial for how to do this. (Note: This may create a huge file, depending on the length of your e-book. If you get something that’s over 10 MB, you can use the program PDFshrink to make it smaller.)

Alternatives

If you’re looking to spread an idea quickly, you can even publish the manifesto through a site like ChangeThis.com. Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, and Guy Kawasaki have all done this. Only the best ones make it, though, so this doesn’t guarantee you’ll get an ebook published through them. (See mine here.)

You can also hire someone to do it for you, if you have the budget.

Step 3: Connect with people through social media

Social media is a great way to find fans and create advocates that will spread your work for you.

The great thing about social media is that it’s social (obviously), which means it can lead to other meaningful interactions, including real-life relationships.

From follower to friend

I’ve connected with more people through Twitter than any other way. This has led to grabbing coffee with other writers, picking up freelance gigs, and even getting to meet some of my heroes. It’s the best networking resource I’ve found.

Starting a Facebook page for my blog has also been a great way to share content and connect with my audience.

The people you connect with through social media may begin as followers, but they can quickly become friends and even patrons of your work. If you do it right—by adding value to your readers and followers—these people can become life-long supporters of you.

What better asset to have before publishing your first book than an already large and growing fan base? The publishers will be fighting over you.

Step 4: Establish your brand by adding value

Every author needs a brand—an established voice that makes his or her content unique.

Blogging can help you do this, because it allows you to practice in public. It also attracts an audience, which can help you in defining (and building) your personal brand as a writer.

Serve your way into influence

The best way to earn trust and establish a brand is to serve people.

Do the grunt work. Hustle to help people, and you will get noticed. In a world full of self-promoting sleaze bags, if you add value to people’s lives, you will never have a marketing. People will come find you.

This is a great way to brand yourself as an author, too. Someone who serves others doesn’t have a hard time selling books. People know you’re going to help them, so they’re eager to pay money to hear what you have to say.

And if you can demonstrate that, a publisher will be honored to work with you.

Interview experts

Another way to do this is by interviewing experts. You can seek out other authors and bloggers in your niche and ask to interview them. Do this over time and you’ll not only deliver value to your readers, you’ll also build relationships with influential people.

Pretty soon, people will come to think of you as the expert—which is exactly what publishers are looking for.

All of these relationships (if founded on serving others) will come back to help you. It’s true what they say: what goes around comes around.

You’ll be publishing a book in no time.

Jeff Goins is a soon-to-be-published author, blogger, and nonprofit marketer. You can connect with him on Twitter @jeffgoins and Facebook and get his free, weekly newsletter. You can also find out more about his path from blogging to book contract by getting his eBook Every Writer’s Dream: How to Never Pitch Your Writing Again, which is free for a limited time.

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Comments

  1. JD says:

    Think I’m probably the newest to blogging here – so thanks for the advice!

  2. Paul Jun says:

    Powerful, insightful, and truthful.

    Excellent post, Jeff.

    You are the epitome of how times are changing, and how a blog can be used to open up avenues for us writers.

    I can’t wait for the book.

  3. Bryan Ring says:

    Hello D, thanks for your blog! I’m certain you’ve heard it all so I really have nothing ( I know wth is this?) Just wanted to drop a line, since I have actually been reading soooooo much online JUNK (not referring to U) in hopes of how to present myself.
    This is not a PLUG just letting you know I can relate to who you are (or who you are online anyway) and will continue to read your blog!

  4. Taline says:

    Great article! I will consider some of your points for sure! :)

  5. Nina Amir says:

    Jeff,

    Thanks for a great post! I’m a BIG advocate of blogging your way to a book deal and speak, write and blog about this topic. In fact, I have a book coming out on exactly this topic (How to Blog a Book, Writer’s Digest Books), which I in large part blogged into existence. Blogging is one of THE best ways to build an author’s platform–that fan base you need to get noticed by a publisher and to create a successful self-published book (one that sells).

    You make some great points — I love the idea of a manifesto! In the same way bloggers can so easily repurpose posts into whole books. And, of course, the social networking is huge.

    Some say the blog-to-book craze peaked in 2009, but I believe just as many, if not more, blogs and bloggers are being discovered by publishers now than at that time. Why? Because a blog is as close to a test marketed book as a publisher has ever had. If you have blog readers, you will likely have book buyers. And well-read blog with many subscribers gives you expert status as well as platform. These are all things publishers want.

    If you create these things via blogging, you can also become a successful indie publisher if you like.

    Anyway….thanks so much for a great post. And good luck with your book.

  6. Gail Gardner says:

    Great tips and pretty much exactly what worked for me except that I did them in a different order. One more: a review that I wrote of a NY Times Best Selling Author that I published on my blog caught the attention of the Editor of his niche – which also is mine – and resulted in a request for a book proposal.

    Now I just have to make the time to write first the proposal and then the book – and perhaps I should write that manifesto you suggest in between them to grow my list before the book gets published.

    One thing bloggers need to carefully consider is choosing a blog commenting system that fits their style because using one will connect you with the bloggers who will support your efforts. There are basically three:
    1) CommentLuv which is used by bloggers who are largely dofollow and believe in pay it forward and creating a better world. We seek out and mentor new bloggers and have our own invitation only private forum for leading influential CommentLuv bloggers.
    2) Disqus, popular with bloggers who do business with Fortune 100/500/1000 corporations and traditional meda
    3) Livefyre, which favors only other Livefyre using blogs with a link which would be popular with those who want to get more from links than they are willing to give back.

    There are some Disqus blogs that also install CommentLuv so those have more cross-over than the others; however, as the number of quality blogs grows there will be less and less overlap between these communities – so choose wisely.

  7. ralph says:

    I think i am beyond redemption.but your site is timely…..i’ll try

  8. Jeff, small world. Why do all the people I follow know each other? I hope to have my manifesto out this year. Thanks for for quick tutorial.

  9. Jeff,

    Thank you for this post. I really like that you mentioned another form of reward for bloggers – becoming an author. This is often neglected these days and it is also beneficial to establish ones authority.

    Thank you for the advice.

  10. alansm says:

    I think the hardest part is promotion. We had good book, good blog but no-one know, this is a big problem. If we can solve it, we can make money from our book, blog.

  11. Jeff, thanks so much for the great advice. One of my friends was just talking to me about this very topic, and it is nice to see someone lay out some clear steps on the transition from blogger to book author. Another thing that I would like to add for those looking to move a bit beyond their own blog, such as guest-blogging, newspaper column writing, etc, is that writing on your blog can also be a great way to expose people to character and quality of your writing, which can open up doors well beyond your own plans to write a book.

    At any rate, this is a great guide, and I really appreciate Jeff.

  12. Carli says:

    Jeff! Thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful ideas. I would have never thought to approach it this way. I have a burning desire to write a novel, but things weren’t moving along like I wanted them to. I decided today that I should write a book that goes along with the theme of my blog (weight loss and learning to run). I already have an audience that loves me and that I love back. Why wouldn’t I just expand on that? Your post was right on time! I practically wrote my manifesto on my lunch break. Thanks again!

  13. Jason says:

    A better blog definitely has good content. As a rule of thumb, if you are building a blog try to make at least two useful posts per day.

  14. Hard work is really the key. When I am asked how I received certain opportunities I think sometimes they expect the “magic pill” answer. But no, it was hard work, dedication, and a constant pursuit to improve.

    Great post I especially liked the DIY way to publish a manifesto.

  15. Very true Jeff!

    Like you, I am on the same path. I have been blogging for quite some time and now am writing my own book.

    I have also signed a deal with a publisher and I hope to publish someday on Kindle too.

    Writing is the best activity in the world.

    Thanks for the post.

  16. It’s been a while since I read a good post like this. I’ve been thinking to write an e-book for starters though at the moment I’m struggling to find out what it’s for (and why should I make one)

    I guess you’re right that it can be used as a tool to help others and also as a portfolio so when you want to go all out and publish a real book, you have something to show to the publisher as a proof. Love it

  17. Jon Loomer says:

    Great tips. I feel like I’ve become a blog publishing machine lately, but it’s all with the eventual goal of a book in mind. I’ve taken that first step with a small scale eBook (just created it as a PDF), but have my sights on the next step.

    This helps a lot!

  18. Christian says:

    Jeff, great read, and it is quite reassuring to know that there are some lucrative alternatives related to writing blogs. Thanks!

    • Jeff Goins says:

      You’re welcome, Christian. I don’t know about “lucrative,” but if you’re strategic, you can hit your goals.

  19. This is going to help me a lot. Thanks a mil Jeff.

    I believe it will take some time to implement correctly, which is not necessarily a bad thing as the quality will be priceless.

    Thanks again!

  20. Fawn says:

    This is a great post, Jeff! So many wonderful things here I’d not even thought of before. I love the idea of the manifesto. Fantastic! Thank you.

  21. Dude before you write a blog to a book i feel it also necessary that you should be a good writer too because the writing method that we use for a blog and for a book has some diffrence that is what i feel i would love to know how do you diffrenciate writing a blog and a book!

    Thanks
    David!

  22. Swapnil says:

    really good guide, thank you

  23. bennix says:

    I remember Ivin Viljoen his into that business.I wish I could publish mine too in the future…:)

  24. Sal says:

    In order to create a strong blog foundation, is it imperative to create a schedule. What are your thoughts on this and what is the most attractive way to let readers know what’s next?

  25. Anaxa says:

    So important and nice but effective way of home earnings, Thanks for sharing.It is helpful for everyone.

  26. Imran Elahi says:

    Thanks for sharing this awesome tips

  27. I feel that is one of the so much significant information for me. And i am happy reading your article. However should observation on few general things, The web site taste is great, the articles is in point of fact excellent : D. Good activity, cheers

  28. Jeff,

    Thanks for your time during our interview regarding this great post on our radio show, The Blog Snobs. It is now posted for download to iTunes or listen anytime at http://www.TheBlogSnobs.com if any of your readers would like to check it out.

    Thanks,
    Robbin and Joe
    The Blog Snobs

  29. Elin says:

    This is just in time, maybe I should download iBook Author.

  30. Greg Nazvanov says:

    Darren, great post – just gave you 3 K+ on @klout for this! I can releate, having blogged for the past few years I too ended up publishing few books, last being “Woerking for yourself” with the Major Street Publishing. I think out of the points you discussed, marketing is the toughest one.

  31. Holly says:

    Hey Jeff and others!
    A friend forwarded this article to me this morning after a conversation we had yesterday at work regarding my new blogging passion. What excellent timing! Its always good to read something one can relate to and to take something away from. I adore writing, could do it all day and you have highlighted to me the importance of my audience. So thank you! I salute you! Also, and rather more amazingly, you may have persuaded me to join ‘Twitter’…which I have to say is a big deal! For alas, I have been avoiding it for some time! How refreshing to see something from a completely new angle.

    Have a fabulous weekend Jeff, and of course, others! :)

  32. Chivon says:

    Great post Jeff! I love the tip about creating a manifesto. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  33. cromainer says:

    Hi Jeff. Thank you for the words of inspiration. I am a frustrated writer who dreams of having a published book someday. But with some hindrances and struggles, I stopped writing and almost didn’t know how to speak myself through writing. Not until someone gave me the chance to continue what I want. And now, I started it with the help of people whom become my inspiration.Thank you for being one.

  34. Hello Jeff Goins

    Excellent article. I hope, it would wake up the regular bloggers to create a book to get noticed on the web. And as a featured post in problogger.net, you will get noticed more and can immensly increase traffic to your blog :)

    You do better posts as a guest blogger (I have read many of your guest posts from couple of months), and I don’t find so much enthusiasm in your own blog posts when compared to your guest posts.
    Keep an eye on that. Thanks for sharing the useful information.

    Visit my blog and make a comment if possible ;)

    All the best :)

  35. Maria says:

    Very inspiring post. hope to write a book someday and i guess this post have given me an insight.

  36. Atif Rehman says:

    hey! My name is Atif from PAKISTAN and i am a newly blogger but working for other peoples and get some money to do my job but i want to become a professional blogger and also want to earn money from blogging but i don’t know how? i belong to a backward area of Pakistan and have no source to show my abilities. so i need help about how we can create a good blog and how can we earn money from this blog> Please help me

  37. Anshul says:

    Great post Jeff. I am a firm believer in building up a loyal fan base first and selling will look after itself in due course. I have to say that I often hesitate sending sales emails to my subscribers for this simple reason.

  38. Paula says:

    Thanks Jeff, what a great post and very inspirational too.

    I think one of the hardest parts of blogging is deciding which subject to write about. It needs to be a passion or certainly something that you are so interested in that you ‘have’ to write.

  39. The hardest part in making your blog popular is by creating backlinks to famous sites. So that you can earn a bit traffic. My blog is a geeky gadgety blog on latest technology. geekOgizmo

  40. Thanks for the plan of action. I’ve been blogging for roughly a moth total and now and ready to get started for real! Great content here at problogger!

  41. I agree with what paula said, when someone is passionate about something it shows in their writing. When someone really doesn’t care it is hard to get involved in what they are writing. On a side note, I think writing a book is one of the most rewarding things someone can do, totally jealous.

  42. My niche seems so small, but yet it’s not. I’ve been thinking about this topic for some time, but then feel up against too much of my own doubt because I’m always sure there’s someone better suited to spread the message I want to.

    But no more.

    Your tip about writing a manifesto is what inspired me. That, I can do.

  43. Denis says:

    Thank you D!
    This is simply a masterpiece. You created such an interesting and progressive blog, hence why I personally think that in the shortest times you’ll become the great book author! You’re doing fine. Keep it up, and we’ll follow your example!
    Sincerely, Denis!

  44. Salman says:

    To make a brand is very Important and Blogging can do it for us,Your step 4 is very interesting and helpful.

  45. Lirik Lagu says:

    Reading your idea shifting from blogging to book publishing really waking me up from my dream. Maybe for me the hardest part is to start it and to be consistent in nichie.
    Thank you very much for your sharing Jeff.

  46. Archan Mehta says:

    Jeff,

    Thanks for this guest post. It is value-added all the way. It must feel great to be hosted on this fab blog.

    In my case, I was not even aware of blogs, bloggers, etc. My technical skills are nothing much to write home about: I am not an ace with computers. Much of it seems like greek and latin to me.

    Even so, I bumped into blogs and bloggers by the process of trial and error. I just kept on plugging away and arrived at their websites. Some bloggers were also kind and smart enough to provide me with links to other blogs and bloggers. That’s how I came across some big names in the blogosphere.

    I have been following their blogs and can now count them among my on-line friends. We live in an age of networks, so I found these blogs linked to other blogs and the rest is history. So, I have gained a lot from reading their blogs (knowledge) and by virtue of socializing with them on-line and joining their networks.

    I have been leaving comments on other blogs for the longest time, but I have not managed yet to start my own blog. Like you, my on-line buddies have been cajoling me to start my own blog. Maybe one day I will achieve this dream. In the meantime, I am quite content to reach out to ace bloggers like yourself.

    Cheers.

  47. Karen Morris says:

    Fabulous article, I have been thinking about doing a blog for along time now. It is time to go ahead with my dream, and guess what, it is ok to make mistakes it gives me confidence to go forth and learn. thanks.

  48. Dan says:

    Today Problogger.net, tomorrow the world! LOL.

  49. this one of my goal as well.. i am planning to positioning my self before writing my own book.. i’ll kick start my plan via blogging first

  50. Anshul is spot on you need a loyal fan base first. You need to walk before you can run to many people look for a quick buck and make the most basic mistakes.