PLAN-300x208Google the question “how to turn my blog into a book,” and you’ll find references to websites where you can feed in your blog, select the posts you want to include, choose a cover, and print a book. These are wonderful tools to create a book for family or friends if your blog is personal in nature. But if you want to capitalize on your blog as content for a book you wish to sell, stay away from these sites!

Your blog is a goldmine of information, and you’re right to try and capitalize on all the work you’ve put into it. However, producing a book from a blog requires a lot of thought and planning. You cannot just copy your blog content and paste it in a Word document. Books, even nonfiction books, need a beginning and an end. They need to follow an arc that builds toward a point that you want to make. When you started writing your blog, you had none of this in mind. You didn’t start out by writing an introduction, and you didn’t plan a point that you wanted to build towards proving. You didn’t think, “I’ll build towards my point in, oh, two months, and then I’ll spend the next 20 blog posts proving my point, and then I’ll wrap it up some time in 2017.” But that’s how you need to think of a book.

So before you start mining your blog for content, think about your book’s focus. What are you most passionate about? Which of your blog posts resonated with your readers: which posts received the most “shares” and elicited the most comments? Do these popular blog posts follow a theme? Now do some research on Amazon. Plug in some keywords that relate to the most popular blog posts. Have there been hundreds of books written on the topic, or do you seem to have a unique take on a popular topic?

Once you’ve chosen your focus, start developing a book outline. What do you want your readers to take away after reading your book? How will you build towards the points you want to prove? Try not to look at your blog while you’re doing this. Instead, create your outline based on what content proves your thesis, gives readers what they need to take away after turning the last page, and relates everything you want to relate. You will include topics in your outline that you have not yet written. Highlight these in your outline so you can easily reference new material you must write.

NOW you can go to your blog and start pulling content to fit your outline. Copy and paste these into a Word document, in the order of your outline. Perhaps create a new document for each of your chapters. I don’t recommend extensive editing at this point. You’ll have to sit down and read this baby all the way through after you’ve filled in the missing material, and at that point you can agonize over that poorly written post you did at 2 a.m., when sleep evaded you.

Now refer back to your outline and start writing the missing material. Write these directly into your Word document(s) where you’ve pasted your existing blog content. You’ll also need an introductory chapter or two, plus a concluding chapter. You may wish to read your book through the first time prior to writing the intro and conclusion.

Which brings me to your first read-through. Read it without overthinking. Highlight any obvious gaps or leaps of logic, but concentrate on your overall impression. Fix these obvious gaps, and then read it again, red pen in hand.

Once you’re happy with your first draft, hand it over to a professional editor. This is an important step. Not only does your book require the eyes of someone unfamiliar with your blog, a professional editor will ensure that the transition between each of your separate blog posts is seamless, so that no one will realize that this was once a blog. The transitions between blog posts in poorly edited blog books are jarring due to sudden shifts in topic and voice. You want to avoid these issues.

Now you’re ready for your book to be professionally designed, with a beautiful cover that competes well with other books in your genre, and an easy-to-read layout that doesn’t scream “I WAS ONCE A BLOG!!!!”