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.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.)
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.
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.