Tag s | publishing

Should I Blog My Book?

Everyone has heard of bloggers who made it big with a book deal, right? Why shouldn’t the next one be you?

I can think of a few reasons.

  1. A blog is not a book

I know, it seems obvious (but I miss the Obvious Station often enough that I try to at least check there before boarding the Train of Thought). To choose just one example of the difference: blog posts are written for online reading, and tend to be shorter, less formal, and more self-referential than a book chapter, because blog readers and book readers typically want a different experience. A writer who doesn’t grasp the unique opportunities and demands of each is unlikely to succeed in either medium (and while I’m at it, may I pet a peeve for a moment? Don’t say “blog” when you mean “blog post.” The word blog can be both a verb and a noun but a blog is the place where blog posts appear. We now return you to our previously scheduled programming).

  1. Once you blog something, it is “published”

This may not be a deal-killer for a book, but it may enter into the consideration. In a long-ago post (here) on this blog, the venerable Steve Laube pointed out:

In a book contract there is a Warranty clause that reads in part “the Work is original, has not been published before.” And if a chapter had once been an article or a blog post (yes, a blog post is “published” in that it is freely available on the Internet) your contract would have to then be adapted to read “Portions of the Work have been previously published in periodicals. The Work, in whole, has not been previously published and is not in the public domain.” This fact is then revealed on the copyright page of the final edition of the book. Many professional columnists do this when converting their work into book form.

  1. Why should readers pay for a book when they can read the same content for free on your blog?

Maybe you’ve seen the comments I and others have in online book reviews, saying, “You could just read this author’s blog and get the same information.” Comments like that may prompt me to search, find, and perhaps even subscribe to the author’s blog, but they won’t induce me to buy the book.

  1. A blog’s traffic can grow slowly, year by year; a book needs readers right out of the gate

A blog can be a great place to hone your message, build your brand, and develop a following. But if you’re blogging up a storm and only a hundred subscribers are enthusiastic about your content, well, pardner, a big fancy editor isn’t likely to be impressed. On the other hand, if you craft a sharp, unique book proposal that draws on the message you’ve honed and the knowledge and response you’ve garnered over the years as a blogger/speaker/worldwide YouTube celebrity, then you might just have something.

 In this as in many other things, there are exceptions to the rule. But the exceptions prove the rule. And there are, of course, some people who disagree (and have even written books on the subject—though I doubt that they blogged the books first).

So blog away. A blog (even a single blog post) may someday lead to a book. Your blog content may be valuable for use as the foundation for longer-form projects. A blog post may be expanded and re-written for use in a book. An anecdote that got a positive response on your blog could be re-used. But trying to convert a blog to a book is like turning speeches, sermons, or emails into a book. It is more likely a route to disaster than it is a train to glory.


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Publishing is a Global Business

Recently a list of the world’s largest publishers was posted by “Publisher’s Weekly.” It reminded me again of how large the publishing business really is and how easy it is to forget that fact. Below is the top ten listed along with their sales revenue. Rank 2017 Publishing Group or …

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I Love Change, Especially For Someone Else

Several decades ago, the British magazine, The Linguist printed a graphic with the phrase, “The strongest drive is not to Love or Hate; it is one person’s need to change another’s copy.” In the cartoon, the word “change” was crossed out and replaced first by amend, then by revise, alter, …

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Ask Me Anything

With Summer in full mid-form and some planning the rest of their year’s writing efforts, I thought it might be a good chance for you to post below any question you might have about the publishing business. Editing? Proposals? Why so many rejections? How does it all work? Will Amazon …

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Houston, We Have a Problem

Today marks the 46th anniversary of the launch of the infamous Apollo 13 mission to the moon. Two days after the launch an oxygen tank exploded jeopardizing the lives of the astronauts and scrapping the mission. Their ingenious solutions and subsequent safe return on April 17 were later portrayed in the …

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Is Book Publishing Fair?

Anyone who has been around young children has heard their cry of protest, “That’s not fair,” when some sort of consequence is meted out for misbehavior. In reality, what is being objected to is fairness, as consequences were spelled out ahead of time and known to all. Parent: “One more …

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Publishing Acronyms

After being in an industry for a while there is a natural tendency to speak in code. Acronyms flow freely and can be a foreign language to those new to the conversation. Below is an attempt to spell out some of the more common acronyms in the publishing industry and …

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The Great Slot Mystery

Every traditional publishing company has a personality or focus that defines them and their product. Usually that personality or focus is determined by past success. They also know how many books they can effectively publish during a year. Combining focus and capacity, you have the beginnings of a publishing strategy. …

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Time Travel?

Most people find it astounding how long it takes for things to happen in traditional publishing. Even after spending months or even years writing, an author waits for weeks or months to hear from an agent, who if they agree to work together, wait weeks and months for publishers to …

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The Anatomy of the Publishing Cycle

If you ask an editor or an agent “What’s hot right now?” you are too late with the question. The nature of the publishing business is that what you see selling today are books that were conceived, written, published, and marketed over the past couple years or more. That is …

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