Create an Ebook: The Complete Guide

Is There a Book in Your Blog?

Your blog has been doing well for years. You’ve got a niche and a fan base. Looking back on your articles, you see you’ve produced tens of thousands of words. That’s enough for a book.

Why shouldn’t it be a book? An ebook, of course. You’ve got credentials as a well-known blogger, and putting your knowledge together in book form will add to your reputation. Your readers enjoy what you’ve written, and they’ll love having it all together in one place.

And you’ll make lots of money from it. No, sorry, that’s a joke. Unless you’re so famous that people pay you to give talks, you won’t get rich from the book. If you are that famous, the talks probably pay better. But you can get a little money back for all the effort you’ve been putting in.

In any case, the book will take still more effort. Before you start on it, do a reality check. Do you really have what it takes to make a book?

Take inventory. You’ve got a blog. Let’s say it’s on “The World of Sugar Gliders.” You’ve been telling your fascinated readers all about this cute pet that’s a cross between a possum and a flying squirrel. The sugar glider community knows you.

Can you make the book work? Do a lot of your articles have staying power? Will they need a lot of polishing? Do you have enough of an audience to build on?

Several factors can work to your advantage:

  • Readership. You should have at least 200 hits a day to have a decent chance with the book. It will be tough if you aren’t starting from a strong reader base.
  • Recognition. Numbers aren’t the whole story. If people recognize you as an expert on sugar gliders, they’re likely to buy your book.
  • Participation. Are you active and well known in the sugar glider community? Do they think of you as someone who always offers value? If so, you’ll get not just readership but active support.

If you have an active comments section, you’ve got an ebook audience.

Not every book with good content succeeds.

You’ve always got competition. A book has the best chance when it offers a unique value. It needs to say something that others aren’t saying, or at least say it in a way that makes it stand out.

Your reputation matters. You can have the greatest book on a topic, but if the people who’d want to read it have never heard of you, it’s an uphill battle.

You don’t need a degree in sugar glider history and anatomy, but it’s important that you have recognition. Whether it’s because you have the best advice or just the best stories, you’ve got a jump start if the people who follow a topic know about you.

If you’re feeling discouraged at this point, there are alternatives. You can put your articles together in a Zip or PDF archive for downloading. Maybe it makes more sense to use your blog as research material for a completely new book. Or maybe you just need to keep blogging for another year or two to build up enough material and reputation.

If you’re still with us and think your blog would make a great ebook, then let’s get started!

You’ll learn here all about how to create something that people will want and you’ll be proud of.

The Economics of Self-Publishing

We’re assuming that you’re going to self-publish your book. If you’re a Big Name Blogger who can get a publisher to pay for your recycled writings, congratulations. But that’s an entirely different game.

Self-publishing is a business activity. Keep that in mind at all times. Keep good financial records. Record all your expenses and income. A simple spreadsheet or ledger will be good enough, as long as you keep it up to date and file your receipts.

Should You Be Your Own Distributor?

Before you start writing the book, you have to make some basic decisions. One that affects everything is how you’re going to distribute the book. You can do it yourself, or you can use a distributor on the web. A distributor makes many things easier, for a cut of the sales.

The main advantage of doing it yourself is that you keep most of the money. You’ll still have payment processing fees, but those are a fairly small percentage.

A disadvantage is that you’ll have to do a lot of the work yourself. Another is that people may be less comfortable buying from your site than from a well-known seller. They don’t know whether your site is reliable and secure. This could make them reluctant to hand over credit card information.

kindling

“do-it-yourself” distribution.

There are degrees of “do it yourself.” If you do it all, you have to set up an e-commerce site that makes downloads available and collects payment for them. This can be the same site as your blog, if you have appropriate software and a payment processing service.

WordPress with WooCommerce lets you sell downloadable products. Another option is self-hosted Magento, the content management system which specializes in e-commerce.

A less labor-intensive approach is to use an e-commerce service that simplifies selling online like Shopify or Volusion. Many of them charge a monthly fee, which could wipe out your income if you sell just a few books a month.

Finding a service that doesn’t charge a lot for an e-commerce plan and supports digital downloads can be tricky. One possibility is Wix with an add-on app for selling downloads, Gumroad and e-Junkie are also worth looking at.

If you use e-commerce hosting, should you use your own domain? If the service gives you that option, you could use the domain store.worldofsugargliders.com while your blog is at worldofsugargliders.com. You’ll need to use a subdomain since the two are hosted in different places.

However, it may actually be smarter to leave your store under the host’s domain (eg: worldofsugargliders.wix.com). You have a reputation as a good writer, but the host has a reputation as a sales channel. It’s not a bad idea to take advantage of it.

What Does a Distributor Offer?

Being your own distributor has its headaches. If you can deal with them, that’s fine. A lot of writers prefer to sell through an ebook distributor, accepting a smaller fraction of the sales income in exchange for having to do less.

The distributor will convert files to needed formats, take care of sales, manage downloads, and pay you the agreed percentage of the gross sales income. It will let you create coupon codes and special sales. You’ll get some help with publicity. If people buy a book similar to yours, your book may come up as a recommendation.

These services are typical. Not every distributor provides the same services. Payment details vary. We’ll get into the specifics of a few distributors in the next chapter.

Remember: A distributor is not a publisher. It takes no responsibility for the content of your book. It will publish anything that meets its minimal standards, such as being properly formatted and complying with the law. It won’t give you cover art, editing, or any of the other services that make a book better than a raw manuscript. You still carry a lot of responsibility.

Do You Need an ISBN?

Every printed book you buy, as well as most of the ebooks, has an International Standard Book Number or ISBN. Do you need one to make your work a “real” book? Not necessarily.

Books sold in bookstores and libraries need an ISBN for tracking. However, your chances of getting your low-volume, self-published book into them aren’t great. Buying just one ISBN will cost you $125. If you issue a print edition, it can’t use the same ISBN. At that point you may as well buy ten of them for $250.

Your distributor may provide you with an ISBN as a service. They get very inexpensive in bulk, so the distributor can get it a lot cheaper than you can.

If you’re going to distribute your book through multiple channels and expect enough sales to justify the cost, an ISBN is a good idea. It provides a common point of reference for all sellers and may even give your listing a search engine boost. What’s more, book discussion sites like Goodreads will list it if it has an ISBN.

In fact, some sites that sell books require it. However, if you’re doing only direct sales and don’t expect more than a thousand dollars in income, you may as well save the money.

What About Crowdfunding?

crowd

An actual depiction of “crowdfunding,” minus the “funding” part.

Should you think about crowdfunding your book? Very possibly. It gives you advance publicity and helps to gauge the level of interest. If your campaign succeeds, you get money to make your book a better one. Popular crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe.

Each of them has its own approach. Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing model, where your supporters’ money is refunded if you don’t meet your chosen goal. This lets you back out gracefully if there isn’t enough support.

Indiegogo gives you the choice of “fixed” or “flexible” funding. Flexible funding lets you proceed whether you meet your goal or not. GoFundMe doesn’t ask you to set a target at all.

To run a successful campaign, you need to engage your community. Let them know in advance what you’re aiming for, when it will start, and how long it will run. You need the support of your core following to contribute money and spread the word.

Premiums are a big part of the campaign. All contributors over a low threshold should get a free copy of the book. Higher-level premiums can include acknowledgment in the book and on your website, personalized thank-you cards, and printed copies. One crowdfunding campaign even offered to perform a wedding ceremony for a $3,000 donation. A generous donor took her up on it, and she delivered on her promise!

You have to remember that when you start a crowdfunding campaign, you’re accepting an obligation. If you meet your funding threshold, you have to come through, even if it’s more work than you thought. Don’t launch a campaign without being sure you can deliver both the book and the premiums. Writers have achieved great success with crowdfunding, and you can too if you do it right.

What Help Will You Need?

You can’t just create your own book and expect it to sell. No matter how good a writer you are, you can’t be your own editor. At a minimum, you need a skilled proofreader. If possible, get the services of a copy editor.

Another area when a professional will make a big difference is the book’s cover. Even if your sales expectations are modest, a good cover will pay for itself in a short time.

These services cost money, but they’re part of your investment. Don’t skimp on them. We’ll discuss them more further on.

What Are the Copyright Issues?

Your blog might include guest contributions, comments, quotations, and images incorporated from other sites. When you’re selling your work, possible copyright violations will get more scrutiny. You’ll have to be more careful about Fair Use and make sure you respect your contributors’ rights.

copyright-books

To the surprise of no one, copyright law is complicated.

People who let you run their articles in your blog haven’t necessarily given you permission to include them in a book. You need to ask them. They might be thrilled. If they say no, respect their choice. Don’t include comments without permission.

You can include short quotations as Fair Use, but extensive quoting requires permission. Unfortunately, there are no exact criteria for what’s “extensive.” Be conservative in your judgment.

How Much Should You Charge?

Setting the right price for your book is important. Charge too little and you’re saying you have little value to offer. Charge too much and people won’t buy.

Giving away the book is sometimes the right option. If you’re crowdfunding it, you might decide to let the campaign provide all the money you’re going to get. This approach works only if you have a really strong community presence, but it simplifies a lot. If you don’t charge for the final product, you can just put it on your website to download.

Some distributors will let buyers choose their own price, from zero to whatever they want to pay. If you think you’ll have some generous supporters, this might generate more income than a fixed price.

The usual strategy, though, is to set a price and be generous with discount codes. This means setting the price high enough to discount. This BookBaby Blog post offers some thoughts on the topic of pricing, emphasizing that you shouldn’t undersell yourself.

Make these business decisions before starting your book. You’ll have a better sense of what you’re working on and how to achieve it. Then you’ll be more able to focus on the work of creating the book.

Choosing a Distributor

For most authors, an e-book distributor is the best way to go. Buying from a well-known seller conveys more confidence than buying from a blogger’s own website. The distributor handles a lot of the complexities. The question is which one is best for you. Let’s look at a few of them in detail and compare what they offer.

Most distributors use the EPUB format, which many reader applications support. It lets people view books on many different devices, adapting the formatting to the screen size.

Amazon uses a different format, MOBI (or AZW), which accomplishes the same thing. You’ll want to distribute your book in one or both of these formats.

PDF files are sometimes used for ebooks, but they have a fixed layout and aren’t convenient for small screens.

We’ve done our best to make this information accurate, but the terms may change over time. Check the distributors’ websites for current information.

Smashwords

smashwordsFor flexibility and wide distribution, Smashwords is a good choice.

It not only sells books directly but makes them available through many other channels. These include Apple, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Oyster, Blio, Kobo, and Interka. Its arrangement with OverDrive may let you get your book into libraries.

Smashwords’ reach is worldwide and covers many platforms. At one time Smashwords included Amazon in its distribution, but today only a small number of its books get into Amazon’s catalog.

When you sell directly through Smashwords, you keep an impressive 85% of the sales price. The percentage through other channels is lower. Payment is by PayPal or check.

To get your book accepted, you must be the author of the work or the author’s agent or publisher. There are some restrictions, however. Public domain books aren’t allowed. Nor is “private label rights” content — where you buy someone else’s writing to sell as your own.

You have three choices when setting your price: make it free, let the buyers choose their own price, or set a specific price. Remember that you can change the price at any time and make discount codes available.

Lulu

luluThe most conspicuous feature of Lulu is that it offers authors lots of help. All three of its packages, from the “Classic” up through the “Debut” and “Blitz,” include one-on-one author support, a custom cover, and up to ten image insertions.

They aren’t cheap, but you’d pay a comparable price buying the services retail from skilled professionals. If you prefer, however, you can submit your own EPUB file. You can also purchase marketing services.

It makes a big difference whether you opt only for direct distribution from Lulu or distribution to other channels.

If you sell only through Lulu, you keep 90% of the sales after the first 99 cents.

If you choose network distribution, the arrangement is similar to a traditional writer-publisher deal.

Your payments are royalties in the legal sense. In other words, you aren’t selling the books and giving Lulu a cut; Lulu is selling your books and giving you a cut. (You still own the copyright, however.) After distribution fees and third-party charges, your cut can be rather small.

There are few restrictions on what kind of content you can publish, as long as you aren’t violating copyright. However, Lulu won’t accept public domain works for ebook distribution, and your book has to be in English.

Amazon (Kindle Direct)

kindle-direct-publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing

Going directly through Amazon gives you access to a huge market. Kindle Direct Publishing lets you publish ebooks with very little fuss. You can also distribute them in hardcopy form.

Turnaround time is just a couple of days or less. A lot of people search for books directly on Amazon, so being on KDP can really help your sales.

Amazon distributes only to Kindle users. If you want to publish through KDP Select, which gives you more distribution options, you need to give Amazon exclusive rights.

Amazon uses a proprietary file format, MOBI, which is completely incompatible with EPUB, so you’re locked out of the non-Kindle market.

You keep 70% of sales in most cases. Selling in certain countries or setting too high or low a price can drop that to 35%.

A download charge applies at the 70% rate but not at 35%, so a book with a really large file size may actually get you more money at the lower rate. You need to choose one rate for all distribution forms of your book.

Amazon won’t accept “offensive” content (pornography), content to which you don’t have exclusive rights to, or “books that provide a poor customer experience.” It supports dozens of languages.

Amazon won’t provide you with an ISBN, but you can obtain and use your own.

BookBaby

bookbaby.com

Bookbaby

Like Lulu, BookBaby is very service-focused. You pay only for services and keep 100% of your net ebook sales.

A $99 book conversion fee is required, and what constitutes “net sales” can be hard to figure out.

If you want more, the Complete Self-Publishing Package gives you cover design, ISBN(s), printing on demand, and 25 printed books. Services come with a money-back guarantee, provided you cancel before publication.

You have to be the creator of all the content, or else to have documentation of permission. Descriptions of non-consensual sex aren’t permitted, even in a journalistic context.

Language support is limited to half a dozen European languages (including English), but you can submit a book in other languages if you prepare your own EPUB file.

You can set up a page for your book on Store.BookBaby.com, aka the “BookShop.” Ebooks that you sell this way pay you 85% of the selling price. You can also use BookBaby’s distribution network for an additional cost.

It’s one of the broadest networks available, covering iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, and many others. You can even sell through Kindle Select, apparently without subjecting yourself to Amazon’s exclusivity requirement.

These are just four of the many distributors in the business. New ones keep turning up. Whether you go with a well-known one or take a chance on a startup, do your research and make sure what it offers is right for you.

Creating the Book

Now it’s time to get to work on the book. How do you turn it from a stack of articles into a work with some unity?

Creating the Document File

It’s easiest if you work from an organizing principle. If your blog is very topical, using chronological order is fine. In other cases, you’ll want to group the articles by topic. You might have articles on “Sugar Gliders for Beginners,” “Keeping Your Pet Healthy,” “Sugar Glider Communities,” and so on.

Your choice of where you’ll distribute your book dictates much of your technical work. Read the site’s file preparation guide carefully. Create your file in an accepted format, and follow all the rules about styles, fonts, and formatting. That will be a huge help in getting your book accepted on the first try. Commonly accepted formats are Word, ODF, RTF, and HTML. This is your production format, not the delivery format which readers will see.

Use style sheets if your format supports them. This is usually a distributor’s requirement, and it makes it easier to keep the look of your book consistent. If you decide you want to italicize all subheads, it’s just one change, not one for each subhead.

External links are OK, but don’t forget they’ll be useless if you also create a print edition. Internal links among articles aren’t so good an idea, since the latest version of the articles is now in the book. Replace them with cross-references by title.

Improving the Content

As you prepare your articles, you’ll want to polish them. No matter how good your writing is, you can make it better. You might want to expand on what you wrote or cut out boring passages.

It’s likely that you’ve repeated yourself in the course of writing so many articles. If two articles cover the same ground, you should pick just one or combine their best parts.

Reader comments don’t belong in the book. You’re publishing your work, not theirs. If there was a really high-quality exchange, you might reach out to the commenter for permission and include it with credit, but generally just leave the comments out.

Formatting Tips: Going with the Flow

Justified Text?

Books in EPUB or MOBI format are intended for continuous page flow. You can add page breaks where necessary (eg, between articles), but otherwise the reading software will decide where one page ends and the next starts.

With an ebook, though, the justification for justification isn’t very strong. Ragged right is the better choice.

Published books are almost always justified; both margins are even.

With an ebook, though, the justification for justification isn’t very strong. Phone-sized displays can hold only short lines, and filling them out with space often doesn’t look good. Ragged right is the better choice.

Illustrations

Illustrations can complicate an ebook. Your book will appear on screens of all sizes, and the pictures have to fit. It’s simplest if they appear between paragraphs, rather than having the text flow around them.

Your image files should be large enough to look good on a full-size screen. But they don’t have to be good enough to print. They shouldn’t be any bigger than 2048 pixels on a side. That will keep your file size down.

Use JPEG or PNG format for maximum compatibility.

Check out book designer David Kudler’s detailed suggestions for preparing images for an ebook.

Producing the Ebook File – Tips & Tools

You’ve now got your book in an editable format, but it will go out to readers in an ebook format. How does it get there?

Most ebooks are distributed in either EPUB or MOBI format, or variants of them. Some distributors will handle the conversion for you. Most let you provide your own file, and some require it. If you’re handling your own distribution, you have to create the file yourself.

If your book has complicated features, the distributor’s conversion might not work. Mathematical formulas, for instance, may need special care to look right.

There are many options for converting from popular formats such as Microsoft Word and Open Document to ebook formats. Avoid converting from PDF, though. Creating PDF often generates quirky files that don’t convert properly to other formats. Stick with an editable file format.

After you convert your ebook, test it with as many different readers as you can. Look carefully for anything that’s inconsistent or not quite right. Don’t forget that the cover needs to be part of the file, even if you also submit it separately.

EPUB and MOBI Formats

The widely used EPUB format consists mostly of XHTML documents and CSS stylesheets. It adds an OPF file, which controls the organization of the book, and all the files are archived into a ZIP file. It’s not far off to think of an EPUB file as a packaged website.

MOBI is a descendant of a format used on the old Palm handheld devices. Amazon calls its latest version AZW, but it’s mostly the same. You can’t create usable AZW files, because of DRM issues, but you can create files in older versions of the MOBI format, which Kindle readers can still handle.

Guiding Tech provides more details on the differences of EPUB, MOBI, and AZW.

Conversion by Exporting

Some editing applications can export to EPUB, either natively or with an add-on.

If you use OpenOffice or its near-twin LibreOffice, you can export files to EPUB using the Writer2ePub extension. This lets you export from Word files, or any other format OpenOffice can open, as well as the native Open Document Format.

Apple provides a couple of options for Mac users. The Pages application includes the ability to export to EPUB. Another option is to create your book with iBooks Author, which is specifically designed for creating EPUB files. You can even use it to edit existing EPUB documents.

Conversion Applications

Another approach is to use a separate application, on your computer or on the web, for conversion. This is a little more complicated, but you can get more options and better conversions.

calibre

Calibre – for converting ebook formats

A popular, free application for creating EPUB or MOBI files (and many others) is Calibre. It’s available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It converts many formats, including plain text, Microsoft DOCX, Open Document, and HTML.

You can edit your book’s metadata, including the title, author, and publication date. It also makes a great ebook reader. And it doesn’t cost anything.

You can do the conversion online with Online-Convert. It accepts Microsoft DOC files as well as HTML, and will create both EPUB and MOBI files.

Professional Conversion

If you’re running into really difficult problems, you can ask a professional service to do your conversion. You might need to do this if you’re stuck on formatting issues that the conversion software doesn’t handle correctly. Make sure it’s someone who can handle the tough cases; there’s no sense in paying someone else just to run Calibre for you.

Alternatively, if you know some HTML, you may be able to go into the EPUB and edit the XHTML files to look the way you want them. Just make sure to back everything up first.

These are just some of the ways to generate ebook files. For more ideas, read 4 Ways to Create an ePub eBook, by David Kudler.

Once you’ve got your manuscript into the final format, you’re most of the way there! There are just a few more steps to making it into a top-quality ebook.

Publishing the Book

You’ll be competing with many other books, so yours needs to look as attractive and professional as possible. Taking these steps makes the difference between a hasty piece of work and a polished one. Or to put it another way, between a book that only your most dedicated fans will buy and one that will grab a wider audience.

Getting a Good Cover

People do judge a book by its cover, whether they should or not. Your cover will appear on your website and on every site where it’s sold. Seeing a bare title or an amateur illustration will discourage readers. A cover by a skilled designer will tell them you’ve put care into the book. Make it one that looks exciting and professional. Unless you have a graphic artist in your family, you should expect to pay for the work.

Your distributor may include cover design as part of its services. That’s a reasonable option, but it may not get you the most personalized result. The best route, though it may cost more, is to hire a designer who’ll work with your ideas. Suggest a few possibilities. Maybe a good photograph of you with a sugar glider on your shoulder? Brainstorm cover ideas.

Snappa.com screenshot

DIY Ebook covers via Snappa.com

A stylized drawing is another possibility, if your designer has the artistic skill. Even if your topic is more abstract, like computational theory or the Slavic languages, there must be a picture that will capture it and grab the shopper’s attention.

The designer may give you several sketches to choose from and suggest some more ideas. Take a little time to think about how your potential readers will react to the cover. The right one means more sales.

Take a look at Joel Friedlander’s advice on what makes a good or bad ebook cover. A good print cover isn’t necessarily good for an ebook.

For a cheap DIY option have a look at Snappa.com which has easy to use templates to create ebook covers.

Editing the Content

Being your own publisher is enough. Don’t be your own editor as well. At the very least, a skilled human proofreader needs to go over your book. Spell checking software won’t catch homonym errors like “whole” for “hole” or “pour” for “pore.” Grammar checkers help but aren’t accurate enough.

If possible, you should get a copy editor. It’s a bigger job than proofreading, one that you’ll have to pay more for. A copy editor doesn’t just check for mistakes but makes sure that your writing is good. They’ll catch clumsy text flow, repetitious passages, excessive use of the passive voice, and so on.

Converting to the Final Format

Usually you create your file in an editable format and then convert it to a viewing format, such as EPUB, MOBI, or PDF. If you do your own conversion, pay attention to any warnings the software gives you. Whether you run it yourself or the distributor handles the conversion, read the resulting file carefully. View it on a couple of devices with different screen sizes.

The conversion might not handle everything properly. You might have inadvertently used some characters that don’t display correctly. Hard line breaks that you hadn’t intended may be obvious only after conversion. Make sure everything looks right. This is what people will be reading, so don’t disappoint them.

Considering the Distributor’s Options

renoir-kindle

Renoir was way ahead of his time.

Your distributor may offer some useful extras. Creating a small print run or offering a print-on-demand option can be attractive. If you offered print copies as crowdfunding premiums, it’s a necessity.

Hardcover and saddle-stitch binding are expensive in tiny print runs. Using spiral or comb binding will keep the costs within reason, but don’t look as professional. Color printing is expensive; you’ll want a color cover, but the body of the book should be in black and white.

A more questionable “extra” is digital rights management, or DRM. This makes it difficult for people to read unauthorized copies, but it’s a nuisance for legitimate buyers. Without DRM, they can keep and read the book as long as they want with any compatible application. With it, the book might someday become unreadable due to software changes. DRM is only a minor inconvenience to serious pirates.

You’ve already made your material available for free, and it’s unlikely there’s a huge market for pirates. So you are probably better off not getting DRM. Not all distributors use it. Some that do, like Amazon KDP, let you opt out.

Final Steps

You’ve got your book in its target format. You’ve checked and re-checked it. It has a good cover. Now it’s time to upload it to your distributor or your e-commerce site. If you’re running your own site rather than using a distributor, check once more just to be sure. No one’s got your back.

If you’re using a distributor, upload it following their instructions. All that’s left now is to wait. Since you’ve done your work well, your chances of acceptance are good. It’s possible, though, that you’ll get a report of problems in your file. Don’t panic. Figure out what’s wrong and fix it.

Outright rejection is unlikely but possible. If the distributor declines your book, figure out the reason. Maybe you can fix the problem or demonstrate there was a mistake. If not, you can try again with someone else. But short of rights issues or seriously offensive content, you really shouldn’t run into a rejection. Distributors don’t care whether your book is good, just whether it will cause them problems.

After a reasonable period, your book should be up for sale! Now you’re in business. There’s just one thing left, but it’s important: getting people to buy it.

Marketing the Book

megaphone-van

A super-dedicated ebook marketer in the wild?

Now that your book is published, you’d like to make enough sales to justify your time and expenses. To do that, you have to let people know about it and persuade them to buy it.

As a self-publisher, you have to do nearly all the marketing yourself. Your distributor may provide some help, but 90% of your sales will come from your own efforts. Use the resources you already have, and you’ll get a nice stream of sales.

Use All Your Resources

The place to start is your blog. If anyone’s interested in the book, it’s the people who already read your material. Once the book is out, write a blog entry giving your readers the great news. Thank them for their support and give them a discount code. People are more likely to buy when you make them feel special.

Put a conspicuous permanent link to your book on your site, with a thumbnail of the cover. It’s the visible symbol of your book, and you want people to see it as much as possible.

If you have a mailing list which is distinct from the blog, mention it there also. Give the mailing list readers a different discount code from the blog. In general, spread discount codes around as much as you can, and use a different one for each promotion. That will give you feedback on which ones are working best.

Social media promotions are another big part of your strategy. Use the cover image. Mention the book repeatedly, but space the mentions out. Be persistent but not annoying. Consider making a video “trailer” for the book.

The key word is “engagement.” Let your posts read like part of a conversation, not like an ad. Talk about what’s in the book or what it was like to put it together. Invite responses. You want people to share what you post, and they will if they think it’ll be interesting to people in their circle.

You’re part of a community that’s interested in your subject matter. Find ways to reach them. Forums and mailing lists are appropriate places to mention your book. Here, even more than other places, you have to mention it as part of a discussion, not as begging people to buy. Give credit to people in the community wherever you can. That will get them on your side, so they’ll let others know about the book.

Encourage people to review the book. Any review that isn’t seriously negative will help your sales. People will see that it’s being read.

Go Forth and Publish

As you’ve gathered by now, making a blog into a book is a lot of work. If you’ve got the material, the reader base, and the will to take a chance, it can be worth it.

The keys are planning and commitment. Start the project recognizing it will require you to invest time and money. Figure out how you’re going to do it before plunging into the compiling and revising. Recognize that the work doesn’t end when the book goes up for sale.

It’s a challenge, but you’ll have the satisfaction of being a published book author. And it should boost your recognition in your field.


Screenshots courtesy of the editor. Book Cover via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is in the public domain. Crowd by James Cridland is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Fight! by nikcname is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and was cropped for size. Megaphone Madness by Jacob Ehnmark is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and was cropped for size with website and license plate removed. The Kindle Reader (A Young Girl Seated), after Renoir by Mike Licht is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kindle 3 by Zhao ! is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and was rotated. Kindling by Windell Oskay is licensed under CC BY 2.0Copyright Books by Casey Fiesler is licensed under CC BY 2.0.