The other day I was helping my mom clean out her garage for an upcoming move. We were in the process of creating three piles from the contents of the garage: trash, recycle and keep. It was quite the task. There were dozens of boxes stacked higher than my head, old plastic containers that she had bought to preserve our memories as we began to grow up and move onto lives of our own.
One by one we began to look through these boxes. We found old trophies my brother had won in little league, pictures of me climbing the tree at our old house, but one thing in particular really caught my eye…my old notes from high school.
I grew up right before cell phones were a common sight in classrooms and my best friend and I would exchange intricately folded notes between class. Notes about boys and boredom and what we would do that weekend, but mostly about boys. I began to read the notes one-by- one, laughing at the contents and grinning at memories long forgotten. But something else appeared on those faded notes that no one expected to see there, least of all me.
The non-jaded, altruistic, naïve and innocent wisdom that I often read was something to marvel at. Here I was, barely sixteen, waxing on about the state of the world and what I was going to do to fix it. I had pretty amazing ideas. I had really romantic thoughts. I had belief systems that, if I dug down deep enough, still existed in my thirty-something year old soul.
I came home with those notes and they began to act as a muse to my older self. I found myself writing the most beautiful things – things I eventually put in my book. The book writing world has really changed. And for bloggers, journal writers and note-keepers, like me, that’s really good news. With the rise of self-publishing, worldwide distribution and new categories designed to appeal to a wider audience, those of us who thought we had to write a novel-length book are now happily surprised.
One of Amazon’s readily consumed book categories is something called “short reads.” In this category they list books that come in under 45, 30 and even 15 minutes of read time. This means that bloggers could pull together 2-6 related blog posts and have a book on your hands. I work with bloggers all the time who say, “Oh I can write a short blog, but a book is too much.” When I point this great news out to them, we usually can get their book on Amazon within 30 days.
Our old blog posts, journal entries, and yes even high school notes, they can all be re-purposed to serve as a book, if you know the right steps for organizing them.
Here are my best tips for bloggers wanting to turn published author:
1. Look back at the blog posts that got you the most attention in the form of likes, shares and page views. Using this data will help you determine which topic or stories your readership wants you to expand upon. Use these blogs as the basis for the book topic.
2. Collect all the blog posts, journals or notes that relate to this topic. Begin to look for sequences, either in time or in action, to build the premise of your book. For example: if your blog post about raising a child with ADD got the most attention, consider utilizing old journal entries before you had a diagnosis for your child. Let those journal entries, with the emotional expedition and the raw concern, serve as a vehicle for getting your story onto paper. Then, in a time-based sequence, keep collecting anything you wrote about the journey from the beginning to the end. If your topic isn’t a story, but instructional in nature, begin to lay out the steps to your topic, but don’t forget to use stories sprinkled throughout.
3. Begin to tie these blog posts, journal entries and notes together in a cohesive fashion. Fill in the blanks where necessary. Eliminate and cut out topics and themes that don’t relate. Now that books are routinely shorter in size, bloggers can achieve author status with, sometimes, less than a day’s work. Don’t let the old book writing models prevent you from opening the door to the title of author. And don’t let the wisdom of yesteryears fall into old boxes in mom’s garage.
Once upon a time there was a girl who was loved but lived in a trailer park. She knew that someday she was supposed to give her gifts to a world that was rich, but not satisfied. Her body was broken by palsy, and a little crooked, and her parents couldn’t afford braces for her teeth. But because she was loved, she made it her mission to teach, to expand, to heal and to return love.
Angela Meer's story starts from a place of vulnerability, a place of joy, a place of death resulting in hope. Her work has appeared with MTV News, the Associated Press and has been tweeted on the New York Times Square billboard. She is the author of “Storytelling for Creative Entrepreneurs” and jokes that she is a wine-drinking, storytelling missionary to the masses. Just last week she submitted her thesis for a Master’s Degree in Writing. Angela lives in rural southern Oregon where she writes, teaches and wrestles with cats. Her husband feeds her coffee and props her eyelids open so they can engage with the outside world and be social…sometimes.