From blog to book: think first!

Drawing. woman hesitates over changing her beautiful blog to a grey book
From blog to book: but is it worth it?

Want to convert your writing from blog to book? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

But, you say, it’s so easy now! Now you can turn your blog into a “high quality book” with a few clicks! Numerous companies say so and make it frighteningly easy. But should you?

Stop! Wait! Think! What do you mean by a “high quality book”? All your blog posts slammed together and printed between glossy hard covers without discrimination or editing? OK, there could be room in your life for one copy, for your own pleasure and for the record. But don’t expect other people to be interested.

We read blogs and books differently, and therefore they must be written differently from the start or edited to within an inch of their lives. Here are a few reasons off the top of my head.

  • Blogs are modular, like a series of magazine articles or diary entries or photos or chats. So we read them one or two at a time. How many times have you read someone’s entire blog from start to finish? Even with my favourites, that has only happened twice.
  • Blogs provide entertainment or inspiration or companionship or information or challenge in small doses, just what you may need on a particular day. But we tend to read books as a whole, and consider them as a whole.
  • Blogs may be focused (a good start) but bloggers are free to cover different topics and respond to events of the moment. We expect books to stay on topic.
  • We may enjoy a blog—but we commit to a book. Blogs are served up to you, take it or leave it. Books you have to seek out, buy or take out of a library.
  • Blogs are a conversation and readers can and do join in.
  • Most blogs are free to read; books are bought, whether by you, your library or your friend. Blogs cost little or nothing to produce, so nothing much is at stake; books are expensive and risky to publish.

Too many bullet points! And even a couple would be sufficient to make you question whether blog-to-book is as easy as ABC. Or worthwhile.

I enjoy blogs and I love reading books. And please don’t let my harsh words deter you from the blog-to-book plan: it’s an exciting process, as I’ve discovered.

You see, I’ve spent the last six months working on a book version of Doris Carnevali’s blog, Engaging With Aging. When I’m done, I’m hoping that fans of the blog will barely notice that anything has changed, because of course I want to offer all the author’s wisdom without changing the quality of her inimitable voice. But behind the scenes, even a blog that I love and respect requires a lot of work.

So, obviously, I do believe blog-to-book works for some. I’ll explain the process I’ve been going through in a future blog post, because that might help you if you decide to go down that track. I have found the project exciting and full of surprises, and I’m not done yet!

I wish you luck and fun if you decide to turn your blog into a book. I’ve learned heaps and am keen to share.

9 thoughts on “From blog to book: think first!

  1. cedar51 says:

    Rachel, interesting concept, I have never thought a blog could become a book. Rather I would see it as a helpful way if I was writing a book to garner interest in the forthcoming book, notes on how I might phrase an area of a book but not truly from putting out a publication. For me it’s (blog) like a diary, mostly snippets as I rarely blog the full truth, because frankly there are things happening, have happened that aren’t for worldwide publication. And as I read some of “engaging with aging” I begin to see that to have us understand “some aspect” there are graphics, making it harder to imagine the “posts” as an entire book. These of course are my thoughts, I don’t know if my ideas have any merit. Catherine, who is also grammatically challenged!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hi Catherine, of course your thoughts have merit! That’s exactly what I like, for my blog to stir up ideas in the minds of readers. This blog is a two way thoroughfare 🙂

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I have just made my sixth blog to book, but it is as you say for my granddaughter. One copy only. I would never expect that anyone would want to read it the way it is now. I am being asked to put my bits together into a book. But it would be very different.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Ah, you understand the difference! This will be such a good legacy for your granddaughter, giving you entry into your mind. I can certainly see your bag as an engaging book… But we all need to put in the hard yards first.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        I have my great great grandmother’s diary and treasure it which gave me the idea to publish my blog like that.

  3. alison41 says:

    You raise interesting points on the fundamental differences between blogs and books. Food for thought, that’s for sure. Thanks for yet another good post.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’m happy to have this feedback, Alison–thanks!

  4. Ally Bean says:

    I’m smiling here. I’ve never wanted to write a book, because writing a blog is perfect for me for the reasons you listed. However last week I did a fast little study on my blog wherein I discovered how many books I’ve written over the last ten years. I was surprised by how my word count translated into an average length book. I’ve written 3 books thank you very much!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I bet you have and darn fine books they are too, Ally!

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