Blogging Your Book

In “Blog + Book = Opportunity,” I talked about different ways to turn a blog into a book, also called a blook, or using a blog to write a book. This isn’t the only possible relationship between a book and a blog, however. You can also market an existing book by serializing it in a blog. Or you can create a blog about your book, including some selections from it, providing the back story, posting reviews and tour dates?and, of course, providing links so that readers can purchase your book.

The Other Kind of Blook

Nineteenth-century authors like Henry James and Charles Dickens didn’t publish their novels all at once. They sold them to magazines in serial form, a chapter or two per issue. Only after the serial had succeeded did a bound book appear. They did their writing and their market research at the same time.

Blogs provide a 21st-century means to do the same thing—easily and immediately, with direct feedback from readers via comments. The best-known example of this is Thomas Evslin’s serialized murder mystery at www.Hackoff.com, scheduled for print release in 2006. The online version includes some features it will be difficult, if not impossible, to include in the print version, like a website for the fictional company whose name gives the book its title, and a wiki version where readers develop the story in the direction they want to see it go.

Won’t I Lose Sales?

Sales of your printed book are actually more likely to increase if you serialize your book in a blog. Sure, there will be some people who take what they need online and don’t buy their own copy of the book, but they’re the same people who would just have checked the book out of the library anyway.

Even if they don’t buy the book themselves, online readers will tell other people about it. Having your book online means more people will know it exists, and the more people who know about it, the more people will buy it.

A printed book is still easier on the eyes, easier to carry around, and usable in more conditions than a blog or an e-book. And, given the cost of ink cartridges and paper, it’s less expensive for a reader to buy a bound book than to print your book from your blog. Besides, it’s hard to get an autographed copy of a blog post.

What if I’m Already Published?

Just because your book is already published doesn’t mean you can’t serialize it on your blog. Lots of authors are turning to blogs to market their books, and one good way is to use the blog to provide free samples along with back story or reader Q&A sessions. A blog also lets you provide color illustrations, which are expensive to print, and additional resource material, particularly links. It can takes as little 15 minutes each week.

What if I’ve Never Blogged Before?

Dont worry: blogging is easy. That’s one reason it’s so popular. You sign up for a blog account at one of the services listed below or install the blogging software on your web server, pick a template, and away you go.

If you have an existing business website, you can host your blog there. Your blog should match the look and feel of your website and include your logo and other branding. Customizing the template is the hardest part of setting up a blog, and you may want to hire a professional to make sure you get it right.

But you don’t need any special skills to post to a blog. If you can use a word-processing program or send an e-mail message, you can create a blog post.

Going from Book to Blog

There’s a Blogger plugin for Word which lets you publish directly to your blog from within a Word document. (Blogger is a free, easy-to-use blogging tool owned by Google, which also provides free blog hosting at Blogspot.com.) For serializing an existing book, Blogger is fine, but because it doesn’t provide more sophisticated features like categories, it’s not the best platform for writing a book, and doesn’t allow readers to view sections topically.

So you may find yourself doing a plain old cut and paste from a section of your book into your TypePad or WordPress or other blog. However, since you’ll only be posting a short section at a time, this won’t be too much of a hardship.

A Blog of its Own

If you’re already blogging, you may want to create a second blog for your book, just as it’s a good idea to buy a domain name and create a home page for your book. Host your book blog on the book domain, and name the blog after the book. This will help both search engines and humans to find it.

And don’t forget to include the “Buy this book” links!

Blog Hosting Services

Blogger/Blogspot (free, lacks some features)

Blog Harbor (30-day free trial; plans from $8.95/month)

LiveJournal (free or paid; paid plans start at $3/month):

TypePad (good features, but starting to suffer from its own popularity; basic plan costs $4.95/month)

WordPress (free tool, may be provided by your ISP; highly customizable) or sign up for the new blog hosting service at WordPress.com

Movable Type (for the more technically advanced; free for a single-user license)

Blog.com (features multi-language support; free version is ad-supported, but has most of the features of the paid version, which starts at $2/month)

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