Today’s guest post is written by a returning guest author, Edwin Cozier, author of 5 books and owner of his own publishing company- Sreamside Supplies. Edwin follows up on his last post, 6 Reasons to Blog Your Book. In today’s post, Edwin continues his discussion with 7 Keys For Blogging Your Book.
7 Keys For Blogging Your Book
By Edwin Cozier
Once again, thanks Tony for giving me the opportunity to share what I’m learning on your blog. You are a great friend and a great help to all of us who want to market our writing.
Is it just coincidence that the day I sit down to write a new article about giving your book away on a blog that my Google Reader served up an article pointing to Chris Anderson’s new book Free? If you want to find more than my six reasons for blogging your book, check out his. Get a free online version or a free audio version or buy the book from Amazon. (Yes, that is one of those pesky affiliate links, but can you really blame a guy for trying to make money off a friend’s blog?)
Before hitting today’s article, let me just point out that this concept is controversial. There will be many who tell you steer clear of blogging your book. Some publishers won’t take it if you’ve done that. Some agents won’t market it. All that is true. But some will. Remember, your purpose is to gain platform and readers. Your purpose is to hone your writing. Your purpose is not to please every agent or publishing house out there. I still think blogging your book is a great way to accomplish your real purposes.
As I promised in my last article, I want to share with you 7 Keys to Blogging Your Book.
Key#1: Write Your Book Ahead of Time
This is a general rule, not an absolute one. Blogging is certainly a means of writing a book. Perhaps you need the deadlines of a weekly post to write regularly. By all means, start writing your book each week on your blog.
To be completely honest, I’m writing a series of blog posts right now that I hope to turn into a book eventually. You can check out Something Worth Doing at my blog. Having a weekly schedule keeps me on track and keeps me accountable.
However, I don’t suggest you let that be your rule for blogging a book. I haven’t told my readers that Something Worth Doing is a planned book, though I’m not particularly hiding the fact. Thus, they aren’t expecting a regularly scheduled book blog. However, with Getting to Did: How To Get Rid of Your Big But and Live a Life without Regret, that is exactly what I’ve done. My readers expect a post every Thursday from my upcoming book.
The problem with promising these posts without already having them written is that life happens. Writing takes work and time. If you promise weekly or bi-weekly posts of your book but then life happens and you don’t get them written, you are not increasing but decreasing your platform.
Additionally, you never know where your book is going to take you as you write it. If you’ve been blogging it for weeks and hit a tough spot that causes you to need to go back and change chapter 3 for everything to fit, you won’t be able to do it if you’ve already blogged your first 10 chapters. Writing your whole book first removes this problem.
Thus, while there are certainly exceptions, I encourage you to write the book then blog it.
Key #2: Have Multiple Back-ups of Your Whole Book
My original list of keys was only 6 keys long. This additionally key made it on my list just a few weeks ago. I even wrote a post about it on my own blog.
The computer on which I wrote Getting to Did crashed a while back. That was no big deal because I had my back-up copy on my jump drive. Then I lost my jump drive. I was in trouble because I had not saved the book anywhere else. All my work was about to be down the tubes. Fortunately, I found my drive and the posts were back up and running two weeks later. However, that was a huge lesson for me. Now I have the book backed up on a computer, an external hard drive, and my jump drive.
Key #3: Keep Your Posts Balanced
You may be tempted to blog one chapter per post. However, that may not be the best way to do it. Regrettably, there is no magic length for the posts but you need to strike a balance. Your posts need to be long enough to actually say something but short enough that people will take time to read what they say. Face it; every book is like the television show “24.” Some episodes are action packed, full of thrills every minute. Other episodes are fillers that get from one major hour to the next major hour. Whether fiction or non-fiction, you have parts that are filler to get you from one point to the next and you have parts that are full of whatever it is you are conveying.
Make sure your post is long enough to be full of something. If you are writing non-fiction, make sure your post is long enough to convey some helpful information that will cause your readers to want to come back for more of your valuable insight. If you are writing fiction, make sure your post is long enough to convey some aspect of mystery, romance, adventure or whatever it is that makes your book exciting and entertaining to the reader. If you don’t make each post full, but just let some of them be filler, you’ll lose readers.
This is especially important since every post on a blog may actually be your front page. Very few people will find your book by landing on the very first post you put up about your book. Rather, search engines may drop them in anyone of your posts. That post needs to have something of substance or they won’t check out the rest.
However, you also need to make sure your posts are short enough that people will actually read them. If your posts are too long, some folks will simply click away. Others will bookmark the page intending to come back when they have more time. But when exactly will that be? Give them sections they can read in 5 minutes, definitely no longer than 10.
Don’t get worried that giving these shorter than chapter chunks will turn them off because it will take too long to get through the whole book. Actually, that just gives them more opportunity to want the whole thing in their hands right now.
Key #4: Have a “Buy Now” Button on Each Post
I know you think it is obvious that what you are trying to do is get people to buy your book. But it is not that obvious to your readers. Therefore, if your book is already for sale, have a “Buy Now” button on each post. Every post is an advertisement to buy your book. Don’t let your readers get away from any post without at least letting them know they can get the whole thing right away.
If you have already blogged the whole book before you have it for sale. That’s okay. Just go back to each post and add the “Buy Now” button. That is the great thing about these blogs. They’ll be up on the web for a very long time. They are portals to your book for a very long time. Don’t assume that just because the whole thing is on the web that people won’t want to go ahead and buy the hard copy. Some of us still like the feel of a book in our hand over clicking from one blog page to the next. Give us the chance to buy your book and some of us will.
Key #5: Have an Explanation Paragraph at the Beginning of Each Post
We’ve already pointed out that any given post may be the front page that someone sees of your book. Don’t confuse them by just getting right into the book. Let the person who stumbles across your page know exactly what is going on. Tell them they have found a book you are blogging. Let them know they are not on the first page and to know what is going on, they may want to start at the very first post.
Obviously, provide a link to that very first post. Don’t make them hunt it down through a search box or through a category list. Make it easy for them to find that first page so they can read your whole book.
Key #6: Have an Index Page
An index page is like a Table of Contents for your blogged book. The purpose is to give a bird’s-eye view of the book and to make navigating through your book on your blog as easy as possible. Provide a page that has links to every single one of the posts of your book. It may be the very first blog post of your book or it may be a separate page entirely. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have a page that can take anyone to any place in your book. Then make sure you have a link to your index page in your explanation paragraph on every post. This allows readers who stumble into the middle of your book to easily learn more about the book as a whole.
Check out my index page for Getting to Did. Also, notice the explanation paragraph on part 15 of my book.
If your blog, like mine, contains more than just your book, set up a Category that contains only your book posts. That way someone who stumbles into the middle of your book can click a category link and find all the posts as well. Do this in addition to not instead of an index page. Again, the point is to make navigating through your book as easy as possible. Check out the category page for “Getting to Did” on my blog.
Key #7: Chain Link the Posts
This final key is about making it extremely easy to navigate through your book. You want your readers to be able to easily read as much of your book as possible. You don’t want them to get so frustrated trying to find the posts that they get irritated with you and give up on your book.
In your explanation paragraph, place a link that goes back to the previous post. Then at the end of the post, place a link that will take them to the next post. Every week, at the end of my Getting to Did post, I place an invitation to come back the next week for the next installment. When I put up the next post, I simply go back and turn that invitation into a link.
Make sure you do this every week. You don’t want someone making their way to your first post and reading to the fifth, not finding a link, and thinking you’re done. They may come back a few times and never find a new link; then they think you’ve let them down.
For an example, check out part 12 of Getting to Did. See the links in the explanation paragraph that point to the index page and also to the previous post about meeting the PROFESSOR. Then scroll down to the last sentence and notice the link that leads to the next post saying, “You SHALL be the best You.”
Remember your goals. You’re working on increasing your platform and honing your writing. Most of all, just make sure to have fun with your writing. Like I said in my last article, “If we are chasing dollars with our writing, we probably won’t get many of them. We’ll simply develop reputations as hacks. I hate to break it to you, but even if we write just for the sake of writing, we may not make much money. But when we write because we love writing and we love what we are writing about, we will find satisfaction and fulfillment.”
Whatever you do, keep on writing.
Tony Eldridge is the author of the award winning action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect, which Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” He is also the creator of Marketing Tips for Authors, a site the publishes free tips and videos to help authors learn marketing techniques for their books. You can read the serial release of The Samson Effect at http://samsoneffect.marketingtipsforauthors.com/