“I want to write books, but I’m so busy with my blog that I don’t have any time.”
“How do I use my blog content without making my readers mad because I’m asking my readers to pay for content they get for free on my blog?”
“I’ve written one book, but it hardly made any money, so self-publishing isn’t a great revenue stream for me.”
“I know Amazon has so many rules, and self-publishing seems so confusing and overwhelming.”
These are a few of the responses we received when we asked bloggers their thoughts and challenges related to self-publishing books.
If any of these feel familiar to you, we get it. The process can be confusing and overwhelming. But . . . please indulge us with a few more minutes of your time here, because we’d like to show you that self-publishing is not only quite doable, it’s particularly doable (and profitable) for you as a blogger.
In fact, bloggers have a competitive advantage when it comes to writing books and self-publishing. Here’s why:
- You rank in search engines for posts in your niche.
- You have a passion (or strong interest) in your niche.
- You already have an established platform with thousands of followers who might purchase your book.
- You have built-in trust and engagement with your followers — they know you and your work.
- You have an email list (or you should!) of devoted fans who are your core group of potential buyers.
- You know how to write useful content — and a lot of it — on various niche-related topics.
- You already have tons of content sitting on your blog.
- You have hundreds of great reader comments on your blog.
- You likely have strong connections with other bloggers and experts in your niche.
- You likely have a solid social media following.
- You have a basic (or even advanced) understanding of online marketing, creating lead magnets, creating videos, JV partnerships, and all of the promotional strategies you’ve used for courses, products, and services.
- You’re accustomed to juggling balls, working on deadlines, and making things happen for your business.
- You understand the importance of diversifying your income streams to make a good living online.
From Blog to Book
If all of those reasons don’t convince you that you should write and self-publish books, then let me add one more — it can add thousands of dollars to your monthly income.
I’m sure you’ve heard those words before, and you’re like, “Yeah, yeah, that’s what they always say. All I have to do is XYZ and the money starts rolling in.” I’m not going to BS you. Like anything you do to monetize your blog, self-publishing takes time and effort.
But as a blogger-turned-author myself, one who is making an extra $6,000 a month with my books, you can be successful with this revenue stream — not to mention that writing books adds tremendous credibility to you and your brand, it opens the door for various other opportunities, and it’s really creative and fun.
OK, enough about the reasons WHY you should self-publish. Let’s dive into how you can leverage your content and expertise as a blogger to write your first book — and ultimately a catalog of books.
Why you need a catalog of books.
The catalog of books thing is super important. You’ve probably noticed that most self-published Kindle books sell for around $2.99 to $4.99, and sometimes authors launch their books for just $.99.
I remember when I first saw those numbers and thought, “No way am I spending a year to write a book only to sell it for a few dollars. What a waste of time.” But I was wrong.
These are the prices the market will bear right now, mainly because self-published authors are unknown, so readers don’t want to risk much money on a book that could be really bad. And believe me, there are plenty of bad books out there. But even for the good books, readers now expect very low prices for Kindle books (and even for print books with range around $7.99-$9.99).
The upside of these lower prices is that you don’t have to write super long books. In fact, many readers prefer shorter non-fiction books that are focused on a narrow topic. The goal here is to write a catalog of shorter books (say 15,000 – 25,000 words) on various topics related to your niche.
Let’s say your blog niche is blogging. So rather than writing one huge 50,000 word book on how to become a blogger, you might write books on:
- Setting up a WordPress site
- How to create a lead magnet
- 101 blog post topic ideas
- How to get your first 1000 readers
- How to create your first online course
Each of these books would be an “expanded” blog post. So if you normally write 1500 word posts on your blog, you’d need the equivalent of 10-15 posts to put together a book.
How to craft a book with your content.
So now you’re probably wondering if you can just grab 10-15 existing posts from your blog, cobble them together, and call it a book. The answer is yes . . . and no.
There is no rule that says you can’t take posts word for word and create a book from them. In fact, many bloggers have published “Best of” books with reprints of their most popular posts.
However, there are a few good reasons NOT to do this.
1. Amazon has a program called KDP Select, an exclusivity program that allows you to earn higher royalties. With KDP Select, you can only use 10% of your word-for-word blog content. This rule doesn’t apply to the general Kindle program, but you may want to switch to KDP Select at some point, and you don’t want to be forced to re-write your book.
2. Your blog readers may get their panties in a wad over your trying to charge them for the exact content they can read on your blog. This doesn’t reflect well on you or your brand.
3. Every blog post you write has the potential to be expanded into a full book, or at least several chapters. Why waste this good content on just one book when you could expand it to publish several?
Our recommendation is to use your posts, especially your really popular posts, as the guide for writing your books. Each point you make in the post can be expanded into a full chapter, section, or several chapters.
How do you do this? By simply tracking down more information, sharing more ideas and strategies, giving examples/case studies, and using quotes, stories, and statistics.
Let’s use the example I gave above on a blogger who writes about blogging, and they want to expand a post on getting your first 1000 readers into a 15,000 word book. In fact, here’s a blog post on exactly that topic.
In the post, the author has 7 main categories he discusses to help you get your first 1000 readers. They are:
- Start with your audience (who they are, where they are, what they want)
- Pay attention to your design (first impressions, brand identity, blog title, and tagline promise)
- Build your credibility and social proof
- Create an irresistible opt-in incentive (your lead magnet)
- Publish the right content
- Promote your content
- Embrace social media
As a blogger yourself, you can probably see how each of these post categories could easily be expanded into a book chapter. All you’d need to do is find case studies, go into more detailed explanations, offer some pros and cons, give personal examples, get expert quotes, and offer some step-by-step tutorials — and you’ve got a book.
In fact, each of these blog post categories could be further expanded into full books. I’m sure you’ve seen entire Kindle books on writing great blog content or learning social media skills.
A great place to get quotes and ideas for your book is right in the comments of your blog posts. Your readers will share their challenges, concerns, and questions, and you can use these as material for your book. If you want to take this a step further, send out a survey to your blog readers asking them their most pressing questions or challenges related to your book topic. Their answers will tell you exactly what you need to write about.
How to make time for book writing.
Bloggers are busy people. I know how many plates you spin on a given day. So the idea of adding book writing to your schedule might make your head spin as well as your plates!
But let me tell you how you can make it work. First, and be honest here, don’t you fritter away at least an hour of time a day on Facebook, checking emails, and reading blog posts? I’m sure you can find an extra hour that you can devote to a money-making endeavor.
Here are some suggestions that have helped me:
- Establish a daily habit of writing your book. It can be for 10 minutes or an hour, but just commit to writing every day. Try to make it during your most productive time of day (for me it’s the morning).
- Try to find a space that’s conducive for writing, and make sure to remove any possible distractions. Shut off your phone. Close down computer tabs. Put the cat outside. Stay committed to your book writing time.
- Commit to a minimum word count. As a blogger, you can probably crank out 500 words pretty quickly. If you write 500 words a day for 7 days, that’s 3500 words a week. In 4-6 weeks, you’ve got a completed book!
- Schedule some guest posts for your blog. If it begins to feel overwhelming to write your book and continue to write blog posts, reach out to other bloggers in your niche and have them fill in. Or do a couple of round-up posts where you get quotes from other people, which minimizes your writing time.
- Increase your word count over time. Once you get into the groove of writing your book, it gets a lot easier. You get into the flow and find that bumping up your word count feels natural. If you write 1000 words a day, you’ll have your book finished in no time.
- Don’t stress over the writing as you write. That’s one of the biggest mistakes writers make. They worry about the quality of the work on their first draft. Just write your little heart out, and then you can go back and edit your second draft. And you’ll have an editor go over it as well.
Rinse and repeat this process several times a year. You can easily publish 4-6 books a year if you set your mind to it. Remember, short, actionable books that are highly useful for your reader on narrow topics within your niche — that’s the key to growing your income as an author.
After you read this post, take an inventory of all of the blogging projects you are working on right now. Is there one that takes up 30 minutes to an hour of your time a day that doesn’t directly produce income for you? If so, it’s a pretty easy decision to substitute book writing for this activity.
Even if you had to wake up an hour earlier a day to get a jump on writing a book, it would be worth the effort — not only with the income, but also with the feelings of pride and accomplishment at having the words “published author” next to your name!
You’ve written your book. Now what?
There’s still work to be done after you write your book. As I mentioned, you’ll need to go over it with a fine-toothed comb to edit it, re-work sections if necessary, and make sure you correct any grammatical mistakes.
Now this is really important . . . You may be a writing genius — but you STILL need to have professional editor edit your book. Self-publishing has gotten a bad rap for those authors who publish literary cat puke and call it a book. Your book represents you and your brand, so don’t send it out into the world without the touch of someone who knows what makes a great book.
Yes, this will cost a few hundred dollars, but it is worth every cent and will pay you back in the long run with devoted readers who aren’t distracted by dangling participles and misplaced pronouns.
This same philosophy extends to your book cover as well. Scan some of the books in your niche on Amazon, and you’ll quickly discern which book covers were done professionally and which were lovingly “handcrafted” by the author using stock photography and a glue stick.
Your reader’s first encounter with your book is a thumbnail-sized image of the cover. Make sure it stands out and looks amazing so it jumps right off the page and into the browser’s purchase cart!
There are plenty of great designers out there, and bucket loads of them who design book covers for a living. Archangel Ink is a great place to find editors and designers, as well as Upwork and Creative Indie Covers.
You’ll also need to find someone to help you format your book — unless you want to do this yourself. It’s tedious and somewhat frustrating, and personally, I’d rather spend my time writing my next book or chewing off my foot.
Many editors can format as well, so try to find someone who does both. If you can’t afford all three services, go for editing and cover design and try to figure out formatting for yourself. Kindle Direct Printing gives you detailed instructions on how to do it. I hate detailed instructions, but you might get a real kick out of it.
Deciding on a title for your book is an art and a science that requires some time and research. This could take up an entire post itself, which it did — so check out this post for ideas on how to pick the perfect book title. This is a key part of the process of ensuring readers find your book. (And also Dave Chesson has a great post on finding great book cover designers.)
Once your book is edited, formatted, and has an knock-your-socks-off cover and title, you are ready to publish! How exciting!! When your book is upload on Amazon as a Kindle book or both Kindle and print, you’ll be able to call yourself a published author and have a great product to sell on your blog and elsewhere.
There are plenty of other actions you’ll need to take to market the book — like writing your Amazon sales page copy, choosing the correct categories on Amazon for your topic, having a book launch strategy, and leveraging your blog and followers to catapult your sales on Amazon.
If you want to learn more about taking advantage of your competitive edge as a blogger/self-published author, join us for our Free Masterclass: “Self-Publishing for Bloggers, 5 Key Steps to Turn Your Content and Expertise Into a Monthly Income Stream.” Click the banner below to register (limited space available):