How to Turn Your Popular Blog Series Into a Bestselling Book
Every serious writer’s dream is to see their name on a bestselling book — one that people eagerly read, review, and tell their friends about.
Is that your dream?
It can come true. Your words can reach further and do more good than you ever imagined.
You’re already here on Medium writing for the masses. Maybe you have a blog, too. I’ll bet you’ve noticed it’s infinitely easier to get traffic here than it is on your own property.
Why is that?
When it’s your own place, you have to invite people to come. They won’t necessarily see you when they’re surfing the web, looking for content like yours. The keywords might bring your site to the top if you’ve done your homework and bought a few (or a lot of) ads. If you’ve got a hefty budget to spend before you make a dime, that can be a great way to go.
But what if you don’t?
Hope for those on a limited budget
When you first start out, you’ve got a big dream. You know your story is good. You know it can change people’s lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s truth or fiction. The truth is, even fiction has a bit of truth in it. If it didn’t, it would be fantasy. We need things to make sense, even in a made up world or we can’t follow what’s happening, much less believe it enough to read it.
I write nonfiction, most of the time, so what I share here will come from that perspective. If you’re a storyteller, there are still principles here you can use to promote your work. So stay with me, okay?
The beauty of writing on a platform like Medium is you don’t have to spend a dime to get paid. You do have to spend time — and we all have some of that. Here’s how you’ll spend it:
- Brainstorming ideas
- Refining those ideas into drafts
- Editing your writing for prime time
- Sharing a bit on social media, your own work and the work of others
You can cash in on community when you contribute something valuable to it. The more valuable it is, the more likely others will read it, comment on it, and share it. When you do the same for others, some will want to pay you back.
Generosity is the key to growth.
Write to learn what people want
A book is an ambitious project.
Some say it takes a year or more. Others say you can write a book a week. I’m not sure I advocate either of these approaches.
I say writing a book should take long enough for it to be effective. Depending on your subject and how much time you have, that could take three months or nine months. If you know a lot up front, the process will be shorter. If you have to do a lot of research, budget that time in.
So what makes a book effective? How do you answer that question?
First, your book is effective when it satisfies a reader’s need.
What do your readers want? If you have a following, you already know, don’t you? They probably want a few things like:
- An escape
Chances are, they want a mix of these things. As you blog, invite your readers to talk to you. Use that feedback to discover what’s missing in their lives that they want more of. Then you can take on the responsibility to provide it to them.
If they feel the need strongly enough, they’ll buy.
Second, your book is effective when it fills a gap.
Don’t just write another leadership book because people buy a lot of them.
The same goes for romance, historical fiction, writing advice, or whatever your speciality is.
Give them something they can’t get anywhere else.
How do you figure out what’s missing?
Read a few other books, preferably the bestsellers. What do they cover? How well do they do it? What might you do even better than this author?
Scan the reviews. Is there something people want that the book doesn’t cover? Is there something people complain about that you can make irrelevant in your book? Read the most popular reviews, positive and negative. Make notes. Then use what you learn to make your book shine.
Talk to people who’ve read these books if you can. Ask them what they liked about them, and what they didn’t. What do they wish the author had covered that he didn’t? What did the author include that they think should have been left out?
Feel free to reward those who help you with a free copy of your awesome book.
Third, test your material in blog posts and refine it in the book.
Before you write your draft in silence and refine it for your book, why not test it with the people who already read your content?
You’ll learn a lot this way:
- Whether your readers think your idea is as good as you do
- What questions they have about your content
- How clearly and persuasively you’re making your points
Wouldn’t you rather know this before you spend a year in front of your desk writing your masterpiece? Better to let it walk in public first before it runs on the digital presses.
If you’re worried people might not buy your book when they can read it online, here’s a bit of insurance to nudge them forward — include some surprises in the book that they can’t get anywhere else.
Also, you don’t have to transfer it word for word if you don’t want to. You’ll probably need to add some transitions so it all flows together. This will become clearer as you work through your blog series.
By the time you’re done, you’ll have a book that already took a test drive before you hit publish. There’s no guarantee you’ll be the number one bestseller, but you’ll sure have a better shot than you will with a book you write on speculation.
When you already have a following, at least some of them will be eager to buy your book on day one.
Finally, it’s not all about you
There are so many people trying to sell something now it’s ridiculous.
And yeah, I know, I’m asking you to be one more of them.
You can set yourself apart by focusing on service. Sure, you’ve gotta get paid. We all need to eat. You soften the blow when you provide more value than what it costs to get that value. People are already spending money on books, courses, and the like. They buy when they believe what they’re getting is more valuable than the cash in their pocket.
When you test drive your book on your blog, you can establish value as you go. Each post should add to the overall value of the total package. With all that going for you, you’ll have no guilt. Marketing won’t feel so slimy. You know your book is good, and you can stand behind it with honest pride.
Make it about them and they’ll make your dream come true.
Do that and I’ll see you on the bestseller list!