Blog the first draft of your book

blog-49006_640(The second entry in the “how to write a book” series.)

One popular and productive way to write a book is to blog it. Blogging the first draft of your book has several advantages:

  • gives you a schedule
  • takes the heat off being perfect
  • readers will help you “workshop” the pieces that you post
  • gets you over the fear of letting others see your writing
  • you can work out and rework your thoughts
  • you end up with a blog, if nothing more

Then you can take those “first drafts” from the blog and rework them into a book that has taken shape in your mind as you produced the blog. More on that in another post.

Don’t worry about writing crap, most people do at first — pros included. And, in the beginning, no one will be watching anyway. Your posts will naturally get better the more you write and, by the time anyone is paying attention, your posts will be worth following. It’s been proven time and again.

Blog as marketing tool

The other advantage is that the blog builds a readership for the book and buzz around your work; important marketing steps.

My own blog hasn’t turned into a book (yet), but it has turned into an online course in editing onscreen. Like each of the examples below, I did not start blogging for any other reason than to blog (to answer FAQ so I didn’t have to type out the same emails again and again, and to boost SEO for my site). But it turned into something more.

In fact, the Moonlight Blogger (below) came from a blog that was set up to promote Carol’s first book. Out of all that blogging grew a second book. And the incredible thing is: the entire second book is available free via the blog. It’s just a collection of her favourite posts. Proving, once again, that giving it away can lead to increased success. (Was Ma wrong about the affect that getting the milk for free has on the value of a cow?)

Where to blog

Who cares? Pick one and get to it.

Some people argue that there are different communities (blogging services) that bring more traffic than others. I say, unless you are writing viral-worthy dreck, it’s up to you to drive traffic to your site. It’s not a matter of picking “the right” platform and waiting for hundreds of thousands of adoring fans.

What does make a difference is:

  • customizable layout, plugins, etc. and
  • ability to host it under your own domain.
  • accessibility—post and manage from anywhere or just your home computer.

Blogging platforms to choose from

Here are some ideas.

  • WordPress is the most versatile, short of coding your own site using software you buy. It has hundreds of free customizable themes (looks) to choose from and thousands of functional plugins. Can be used at WordPress.com or uploaded into your own domain space (URL), as I do, via WordPress.org or your ISP (they may have it built in). Follow this step-by-step guide to starting a WordPress blog. It’s easy enough to start with the free WordPress hosted service and then port your blog over to your own domain. Just find a teenager to work out the technical aspects for you. 😉
  • Blogger (was Blogspot), Weebly, SquareSpace (paid), and TypePad
  • Tumblr is for micro-blogging. Not quite as concise as Twitter, but not really suitable (long enough) to build a book from; for most writers.
  • LiveJournal. The most amazing thing about this is that people are still using it; like MySpace. I don’t care.; use it if it gets you writing.
  • iWeb or Dreamweaver or any other code-it-yourself website software that you buy, then upload individual pages to your own URL. I started my blog that way but found that WordPress was less cumbersome, had better commenting features, and is accessible from any computer.

Read more pro/con analysis at about.com.

Track your stats

Whichever platform you choose, enable Google Analytics on the site if you want to track the appeal (hits and read time) of your posts—otherwise knows as “the stats.” You may be surprised by the volume of readers you are getting. That can be as good as a hug.

Some successful books that began as blogs:

Blogs I predict will make great books:

 

Caveat: If this advice doesn’t ring true for you, don’t follow it. But do leave a comment and tell us your alternative! Fiction writers might find WattPad to be a suitable environment to post work in progress, with a ready audience. There are successful blog-to-published stories on there too.