Non-fiction Blook Mechanics Part 1: Blook by Design

blook logoBlooks – books based on a blog – are becoming more and more popular.  Authors, especially unpublished authors, can benefit from blogging their material first as a way to build an audience for their work.  There are enough blog to book success stories now to make this an attractive option.  Many of the early blook successes were more the result of serendippidity than plan.  In this post, I outline one approach for authors who are intentional about creating a book from a blog.

Title.  Use the same title and subtitle for your blog that you would like to use your book.  This has the advantage of allowing your blog to double as a book website after publication.  Also, it makes it easy for your blog readers to find your new book.

Table of Contents.  Layout out your blog categories to roughly corresond to the table of contents for your book.  Using exactly the same titles for categories and chapters may not always work.  Also, some standard table of content names won’t make any sense for a blog – e.g. Introduction or Epilogue.  The idea is to have a kind of one to one correspondence in mind so that when you go produce your manuscript, you’ll be able to map your blog content to the right places in your book.

Chapter content.  Your blog posts become the content for your chapters; content tagged for a particular category can go in the corresponding chapter.  If you have a post tagged for multiple categories, the flow of your content will probably dictate which chapter it lands in. 

Bibliography.  The links in your posts become your pointers to reference material that appears in a bibliography or set of end notes.

Visuals.  Pictures, illustrations and graphs may present a bit more of a challenge.  If the pictures you want to use in your book involve licensing or permissions, you may have to use substitues on your blog (or go without) while you are negotiating. 

Author bio.  Most blogs make it easy to share your bio, either as a blurb on your main blog page or as a separate page.  Include your picture, and both a short and long form bio for yourself which can be incorporated later into your book.

word countAs you start to post, you’ll want to use blog statistis to rank content and track your word count to know when you have a book equivalent.  A good rule of thumb for a book equivalent is 50,000 – 75,000 words.  You should also track the word count by category.  Remember that your categories are acting as surrogates for chapters.  You will probably to be sure your content is relatively balanced as you go so you don’t wind up with too much or too little content in each chapter.

There are several ways to rank content.  Here are a few examples.

  • Page views – the level of overall interest in a particular post.
  • Comments – feedback from your readership.  A post with a high number of comments is a good indicator of blook-worthy content. 
  • Longevity – the number of days since the original post.  This is useful to find topics that might be evergreen
  • Concentration – the number of days since the original post for which there were page views.  Some posts may see all their activity concentrated in a few days (e.g. posts related to news stories) and thus may not be as “durable” as a post that continues to receive page views day after day. 
  • Density – the number o page views for the post divided by the overall page views for the blog.  This shows the contribution of the post to overall blog activity. 

In subsequent posts, I plan to share more specifics on the blog to book process, including:

  • Ideas for editing posts into a cohesive, engaging manuscript.
  • Tools that make it easy ways to track and collect your references.
  • Using tags as a surrogate indexing schema.
  • Creating a compelling pitch card for publishers using your blog statistics.
  • Blook techniques for fiction writers.
  • Preparing a blog tour while crafting your blook.

I would welcome any thoughts or ideas that others like to share on this subject.

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