Buy “Runway”



Should You Blog Your Book?

First, I want to let my Bay Area peeps know that I have a new session of Blogging for Beginners starting next Wednesday, September 19, at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and there are a couple of spots left. If you’re interested in signing up, contact me as soon as possible. And now … Should You Blog Your Book?

Recently on a writers’ listserv to which I subscribe, a woman asked for advice about turning her nonfiction book into a blog. She has queried agents to no avail and is anxious to get her message out to the public, book deal or no book deal. Another writer suggested she read How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book One Post at a Time by San Francisco author Nina Amir. After all, dozens of blogs are turned into books each year. What could be the harm in blogging your book?

In my Blogging for Beginners class at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, I advise my students NOT to blog their books, and here’s why:

1.) Plagiarism. Writers steal content and ideas all the time. And unless an excerpt is copied word for word, it’s difficult to prove copyright infringement in court. If you’ve got a great idea for a book and you’re hoping to land a traditional book deal, think twice before you blog your book.

2.) Novels and memoirs don’t blog well. There are exceptions, of course, like the blog that became Julie & Julia, but most blogs that turn into books are nonfiction how-to or humor books like Sh** My Dad Says and Stuff White People Like. In fact, when someone posts chapters of their book on their blog, I tend to skip over them because I don’t visit blogs to read books. I visit blogs to be informed or entertained.

3.) Perceived Loss of Value. Why should I buy your book if I can read it for free online? Again, there are exceptions like those books mentioned above, which make great gifts, but by blogging your book, you risk devaluing the content—both to readers and potential publishers.

4.) You can build a platform without blogging your book. You don’t need to blog the content of your book in order to build a platform for your book. If your book is set in Victorian England, you can blog about all things Victorian without posting a single excerpt of your book. You can even give your readers a flavor of your writing style through your blog posts.

5.) Blogs make bad books and books make bad blogs. Blogs are typically written in short chunks. Books aren’t. Books provide an opportunity for both the author and the reader to delve deeper into a topic or a story. Posting a chunk of that story, out of context, probably won’t make for a great blog post and therefore won’t help you to build your author platform. Likewise, taking a series of short, choppy blog posts and stringing them together probably won’t make a great book without considerable editing.

If you do have a great nonfiction idea that you think will translate well both into a blog and a book, Jane Friedman suggests reading Chris Guillebeau’s 279 Days To Overnight Success, which you can download for free. Just be prepared to spend a great deal of time strategizing and marketing and promoting your blog. If you already have a book written, and you’ve had no success getting it published, you may want to self-publish and blog about topics related to your book without blogging your book. You’ll have better luck building an audience, and you may even make a few bucks.

22 comments to Should You Blog Your Book?

  • Interesting post, considering that the blogging niche repuposes their blogs all the time for e-books, mostly free but sometimes paid with added exclusive content. Like the e-book I'm reading right now, although I grabbed it because it was free.

    Thinking about it, I can go on about the "Why should I buy your book if I can read it for free online?" concept for a long time.

    • meghancward

      Chihuahua, I suppose if you plan to make your ebook available for free, there's no harm in blogging it. It really depends on what your intent is. If you hope to "sell" your book, I wouldn't blog it. But if your goal is simply to get your name out there and get your content out there, blogging your book may be a great way to go.

  • tomatotomahhhto

    Agree 100%. Nice post!

  • Kristan

    "In fact, when someone posts chapters of their book on their blog, I tend to skip over them because I don’t visit blogs to read books. I visit blogs to be informed or entertained."

    Ditto. Which is part of why I'm leaning toward not doing webisodes again, even though the characters, concept, and conflict are all lodged pretty firmly in my brain right now, haha. (Also because I just want to focus on my editing, even if I'm not doing a good job of that right now.)

    But! Here's a new option for someone like the woman you mention above: Amazon Serials.

    • meghancward

      Thanks so much for the Kindle Serials link, Kristan! How are they sold? Does one subscribe to a serial? How much do they cost?

  • Eunice

    This is a fascinating post. A writer friend had mentioned that blogging your book by chapters opens up an opportunity to be discovered by an agent. And I've heard of blogs with good content getting book deals.

    • meghancward

      Eunice, I think it really depends on the type of blog. If it's humor, short, funny snippets, or recipes, or a humorous advice column, I can see that turning into a book deal. But novels and memoirs and most nonfiction books aren't going to translate well between a blog and a book.

  • I agree with your post, and I think that this writer had things a bit backward. Many family history writers go from blog to book, sharing the process and discovery with their readers. To complete a book and then blog it, however, is not working in the right direction. Perhaps the author felt that it would help with marketing her book… Currently I am working on a blog to book project leading up to a family history memoir. You can take a look here: http://www.ibawcross-culturalgenealogy.blogspot.c…. I am using some fiction writer's techniques found on C. S. Lakin's Live Write Thrive blog to guide my writing.

    • meghancward

      Debra, your site is fascinating! Is your blog to book YOUR family history memoir, or a how to on writing family history memoirs? You seem like the perfect person to write a how to for other people to write their own family history memoirs, and it looks like you do have some posts about that. Great site!

      As for the woman mentioned above, I think her goal is to get the info out to the public any way she can. Because she's already written the book and has been unable to find representation, she figured she'd post the chapters on her blog. Makes sense if your only goal is to get the info to the public and not to get a book deal or make any money.

      • Thank you, Meghan. My blog is about my extended family. The memoir I am working on is three generations of my husband's family. His father migrated north before 1930 and like many of our African American ancestors, didn't want to talk much about the old days. The result was that his children grew up not really know much of anything about their past, never knowing their grandparents because they died either before they were born or when they were very young. My husband challenged me to "do" something with all the genealogical materials I have collected over the years…hence, the memoir. It has been a real challenge to get into the character's POV, but I am determined to get it done!

        Even though many in my genre are going to independent presses, I really want to get published through a standard publishing company. Since getting a dual BA in English Writing/Psychology in the early 1980s, I have always set that as my goal…my mark of attainment!

        • meghancward

          Hi Debra,

          I understand the desire to go the traditional publishing route, although self-publishing has greatly risen in esteem these past three years. Good luck with the memoir!

  • It's an interesting dicussion. I passed over a novel appearing online (Veronica's Nap), but so loved it when Sharon Bially published it as a book. There are some fun ideas on blogs. It's nice when a writer is able to make the blog to book work. Cheers to his/her success! As a general rule, I don't think it works. Of course, the exceptions to the rules, well, they are often exceptional and I believe that's why *those* work.

  • annerallen

    I agree with Debra–You can make a book from a blog (with massive edits) but not the other way around. And as for blogging a novel–I think it's a terrible idea. Even the Amazon singles are a gamble I wouldn't take unless you're an established author with a fan base–because readers have to buy each episode separately. Also, you have to be a writer who NEVER has to edit or rewrite. (How many of those are there?) There's a discussion about this today on Steve Figler's blog:

    I actually wrote a serialized novel for a newspaper in the olden days before the Webz,–in the local-mystery vein of Armistead Maupin. But it was a crazy-hard thing to do, since I couldn't go back and tweak things or plant clues or put in backstory where it needed to be. I was getting paid rather well per episode, so I did it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anybody who intends to publish it as a complete novel. My final product was NOT publishable.

    Also, as you say, people read blogs for information, not entertainment. I know famous authors who have posted free fiction on their blog and got no more than a few dozen hits in six months.. When they put the same story for sale on Amazon, they sold hundreds a week. People skim blogs, but read ebooks.

    • meghancward

      "People skim blogs, but read ebooks" – so true, Anne! As for the serialized novel, I guess that would only work if you write the whole thing first, inserting clues, then print it episodically? I'm curious to learn more about the Kindle Serials Kristan mentioned. I hadn't heard of them until now.

  • Christy Farmer

    I agree with you Meghan that it is a bad idea to blog your book. People do read blogs to be informed or entertained. Blog readers tend to be skimmers whereas book readers relax and read. Blog posts are far different to write than prose. I like to think of blogs and social media as the "backstage party" where readers go behind the scenes. Great post! 🙂

  • Ruth Harris

    Blogs should be short & snappy. They should be skimmable & written so the reader can cherry-pick whatever info s/he is looking for. Let the reader get in fast & out fast by using grabby headlines & lively short paragraphs.

    Books can be any damn thing the writer wants—& is capable of producing.

    At least that's my current theory. 😉

    • meghancward

      I agree, Ruth. There are SOME books that work in short, chunky bits, but not many – mostly how-tos and humor books, I think.

  • Incredible, magnificent blog site file format! The best way long are you currently blog pertaining to? you create posting search simple. The full glimpse of one’s web page is astounding, when nicely as being the written content!

  • How To Blog Using the simple approaches I share in the video above will leave you as an Expert in your picked niche, and your Brand name as the go-to Brand name

  • An ineresting and useful read. Thanks for crossing all the ts for us. I had some doubts as to whether blogging a part of ebook can be okay if a book for sale contains much more than that. Yet, your argument concerning the plagiarism issues has fully convinced me.