Insider tips on how to successfully turn your blog or idea into a book

While this is a complex and challenging question in a complex and challenging market, a friend and editor at Chronicle Books, Kate Woodrow, gets to the heart of the matter in this insightful piece culled from a recent conference panel she was on. It gives some advice from the inside on the book development process, and more importantly from an author’s perspective, what makes a successful pitch. Chronicle is a publisher we do a lot of business with, and they are very creative when it comes to developing nonfiction books from brands or blogs, so it’s worth a read.

A number of the tips Kate shares about developing a saleable book concept apply to fiction writers as well. Like researching and reading your competition. It seems so obvious, but it bears repeating and often. Knowing your market and what’s out there is incredibly important. And no typos! In this moving-so-fast culture we all inhabit, it’s way too easy to hit send before triple checking your work. But if you’re serious about getting published, then take the time to get it right the first time.

One point that Kate doesn’t address but that’s been coming up a lot in my blog-to-book conversations with clients and editors is that the more targeted book concepts seem to be working better now given the competition in the market. Having a great idea is still imperative, even if you have a big blog to support it. That’s something that’s a bit different than it was even six months ago. There was a long stretch where publishers were snatching up books from bloggers at a rapid pace. That has slowed down considerably, and now it’s even more important to think through and develop a commercial, accessible concept that is supported by your blog, but not necessarily the topic of your blog. For example, I just sold a single subject book on avocados by a food blogger. Her blog is a lot more general, but there is a section on avocados because it’s a food she loves and writes about often, so we felt the idea of narrowing the focus of her book was a smart one.

Hope you find some takeaway here that’s helpful. And good luck if you choose to go in this direction!

4 Responses to Insider tips on how to successfully turn your blog or idea into a book

  1. jseliger says:

    If you already have a successful blog with a reasonably large audience and the material for a book, why use a conventional publisher? Why not simply do what Derek Sivers and others have done and self-publish?

  2. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 02-02-2012 « The Author Chronicles

  3. ryan field says:

    One reason why blogs to books might haved slowed down is that I’ve never seen one that went from blog to book with a strong follow up book. I also think other social media has replaced the popularity of blogging and it might not be as relevant as it once was. And, though there are blogs with large readerships, most never hit the mainstream. I even read a piece about a blogger who was sued for defamation and lost because the judge ruled a blogger is not considered a journalist.

  4. Stacey says:

    Thanks for the comments. It’s a complicated discussion in a changing landscape. To answer your question about why not just self-publish if you have a following? It depends on what your goals are for the publication. Publishers offer a myriad of services from editorial guidance, cover design, sales and marketing departments, and a wide distribution network to get books out to the consumer. You could probably hire out a number of these services to some level of success, but ultimately, there’s no way a self-published author could ever have the level of distribution a traditional publisher does.

    I’ve had many self-published authors comes to me over the years to ask if I can help them find a traditional publisher for wider distribution and/or because they are tired of doing it themselves.

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