What to keep, what to cut, and how to put it all together

Blog-to-Book Series, Pt. 2

Welcome to the next exciting installment of the blog-to-book series. In part one we talked about whether or not your blog is book-worthy, and I gave you a general overview of the process for turning your blog into a book. Check out that post here!

Now, we’re going to talk about content strategy. What should you include in your book, and how should you organize that content? Let’s go!

What to put in the book

According to Suitcase Entrepreneur’s Natalie Sisson and The Fire Path’s Kate Erickson, your audience may already be telling you what you need to put in your book.

blogbook-feedbackKate says she was flooded with emails from readers asking for specific information. She gave it to them on her blog, and then they wanted her to make that content available as a download. She knew that meant those nuggets of wisdom belonged in her book.

Pro tip: Use feedback from blog readers to help determine book content.

Natalie had a similar experience. After years of interacting with her audience in person and online, they basically told her what they wanted to know. Then, once she had an idea of what she should include in her book, she ran her ideas by many of her audience members to confirm she was on the right track.

But what if you don’t have a strong or active blog following?

If you’re just starting out, “you should go to Google Analytics and look at your most popular content and see if there is a theme coming out of that and whether you have enough content there to make a book,” Natalie suggests. Great advice!

Pro tip: Use Google Analytics to figure out your most popular blog content — and include it in your book.

Ask yourself …

Ask yourself these questions to help you decide what you need in your book, what you still need to write, and what you can pull from your blog:

  1. Will my audience want to know this?
  2. Does my audience already know this?
  3. Does the content fit with the theme I have decided on for this book?
  4. Do I know enough about this content to include it in a book?
  5. Am I answering everything my target audience wants to know for this book’s theme?
  6. Can I break my theme down into smaller categories?
  7. Should the content be divided into more than one book? Are there multiple themes being developed that make more sense as a series of books instead of a series of chapters?

Pro tip: Don’t make the mistake of including too much content in one book. This can overwhelm your readers. Likewise, don’t include material that’s completely out of left field (i.e. maybe interesting but unrelated to the rest of the content).

Of course, there are probably a lot more questions you could ask yourself, but these will at least help you get the process of creation going. After you figure out what you want in the book, you’ll need to decide how to organize it.

How to organize the content

First and foremost, keep your audience in mind as you outline your book. As Kate explains:

“Remember, your No. 1 goal with the content, and therefore how you should approach your outline, is to focus on the No. 1 struggle is your audience is facing. Then, figure out how the material/ content you have in front of you could best serve them and help solve that struggle.”

Pro tip: Organize your content with a focus on solving a problem for readers.

blogbook-flowchartYou also want to focus on flow when you’re organizing your book’s content. We might not always think about flow when writing posts for a blog, but flow is key when you’re creating a book.

Think about instructional books such as those that teach you how to speak a new language. The book doesn’t begin with the text in the language you are hoping to learn and end with the “how to speak it” part. Instead, it begins with basics like common words and slowly moves into fundamental sentences and then into complex words and sentences. In other words, you wouldn’t include a master skill at the beginning of the book that is teaching a beginner how to do something.

Pro tip: Keep a logical flow of information in mind as you construct your outline.

Natalie recommends thinking of it like a play. Acts 1, 2 and 3 are the various sections of the book, and the scenes are like the chapters. Everything flows. It makes sense. It has a structure.

Creating an outline

Follow these steps to create your book’s outline:

  1. Decide on the theme if you haven’t already done so.
  2. Gather all material you currently have related to your theme.
  3. Write down all of the topics you already have content for.
  4. Break down your theme into smaller categories. For example, an introduction to WordPress might be broken down into categories such as creating a WordPress account, themes, basic HTML coding, etc.
  5. Once you have your smaller categories, take a look at the topics you have written down and place them in their appropriate category.
  6. Now that you have a rough outline, fill in the holes. What is your category missing to make it complete? This might mean you’ll need to write some new content. Or you might find you have leftover topics. Should you create a new category for them or save the extra material for another book? Choices are good.
  7. Take a look at your outline with your reader in mind. If you were buying this book, would the flow of the outline you just created make sense? Does something need to move? Move things around until you’re happy with them — and then leave it alone for a little while.
  8. Look at the outline again after 24 to 48 hours with fresh eyes, or run it by someone you trust for feedback.

Once you’ve have settled on an outline, it’s time to put the book together. Write any content that is still missing, add intros where needed, and watch as the pieces of this magical puzzle come together to create your masterpiece.

Stay tuned to learn tips for formatting your book and getting it published.

Image by: pni via Compfight cc