This guest post is by Nicolas Gremion of Foboko.com.
Bloggers invest a lot of time in their craft. Whether they’re dissecting the latest episode of Dexter, offering business tips, or creating Twilight-inspired fan fiction, bloggers work to provide timely, relevant content for their readers.
Most bloggers eventually wonder if they should develop a book, but they struggle with deciding what’s “important enough” for a full-length work. Should writers repurpose existing posts from their blogs, or go with entirely new content?
Determining whether a blog post topic is worthy of an entire book can be hard, but it’s not impossible.
Is this post compelling enough?
One great thing about blogs is they allow you to measure the popularity of a post easily. By tracking the number of reads, comments, social media shares, trackbacks, reposts, and questions asked, you have data that highlights what your audience wants to hear.
If you’ve written 100 posts about quilting, you may have enough content to repurpose into a book. Rather than scrabbling to find a new topic, use your best content to establish the foundation of your ebook.
If you doubt whether a post’s topic is still relevant, take a look at the impact it made long after it was published. Lifehacker.com, for example, frequently has year-old posts receive airtime and commentary. Because the issues discussed are everyday problems, they maintain a timeless quality. That means, conversely, that topical issues are less likely to have a long shelf life – an eBook dissecting the Obama/Romney race won’t have nearly the relevance today it had two months ago, for example.
Pulling in more feedback
Yes, blogs’ features make it easy for you to determine how interesting people find your work (gulp!). But in order for these tools to be useful, you have to actually be receiving feedback. How can you get more of what you need?
- Write for offline publications, whether that’s an occasional article or a regular column. Writing for print publications will help you refine and edit your pieces.
- Participate in traditional media, such as T.V. or radio interviews, using sites like PRWeb.com to find opportunities. The chance to share your thoughts via other outlets allows you to garner feedback from their readers.
- Provide an email address and encourage feedback.
- Speak at industry events; if your blog focus doesn’t naturally lend itself to a specific industry, check out lifestyle shows. Live events collect the conversations occurring in your space.
- Join a “virtual book tour” via teleconferences, webinars, or online T.V. or radio interviews. Callers’ questions and comments offer great, real-time feedback.
Once you have feedback, how can you gain a bigger perspective about implementing changes to your work?
- Visit blogs in the same space or industry, especially those with conflicting opinions or viewpoints.
- Check out blogs outside your arena in order to sample other styles of writing, presentation, and attitude. What works for them may make excellent tweaks for you.
- Read books, from contemporary works to historical tomes, to gain a deeper understanding of different ways of thinking and being.
- Invest in continuing education, whether that means conferences, trade shows, courses, or training. These keep you updated on the latest news in your field, preventing your ideas from feeling stale or recycled.
Because blog posts are short and sweet, you can easily test different topics or approaches. Take advantage of your blog’s flexibility to develop a voice—and perspective—that will lend itself well to a full-length ebook.
“Red flags of death”
While most of your posts are probably fascinating, there are some topics that raise the “red flag of death” over your ebook before it’s even started.
If you’re working on non-fiction pieces, the usual topics should be off-limits; this means sex, politics, and religion should be relegated to the back corner. However, if it’s controversy you want, these may be the very issues you touch on. The challenge then becomes controlling the conversation so it remains constructive—and doesn’t degenerate into the name-calling brawls these topics lend themselves to.
If your non-fiction is business-based, don’t create a book that reads like one long sales letter, or piece of overhyped marketing material, for your company. Not only will people not want to read your ebook, you’ll not add anything to the industry conversation—a deadly trait for a blogger.
The great thing about investing time and effort in these different kinds of research is that you’re giving your audience a chance to see you in action. They’re engaged with the content you’re working on, and that creates interest. These are exactly the people who will download your ebook—so you’re building not just a product, but promotion for it.
You’ve invested a lot of time in your blogging. Don’t shy away from a longer piece if you’re ready for it. To boost your success, assess the interest level of your topic, as well as the voice and insights you’re offering. By making sure your ebook speaks to your readers, you’ll develop an even more loyal following than you currently enjoy.
Nicolas Gremion is the CEO of Paradise Publishers, Inc., and founder of Foboko.com, a social publishing network where members get support writing their books from peers and connect directly with readers.