books

The 3 Step System for Re-Purposing Your Blogs For A Book

By Angela Meer

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.

Wisdom.

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.

It’s ok NOT to invite people on your journey

By Monica Miller

In a recent blog post, I wrote about what lessons I’ve learned from working part time as I manage my own business. Today, I am going to tell you yet another lesson I have learned while I am on this daunting journey of self-discovery and growth by working part time:

I have learned that it is ok to leave people behind as you’re on your journey.

It’s ok NOT to invite people on your journey with you.

A lot of people were not MEANT to be on your journey.

Don’t feel bad when you leave them behind.

You might be wondering what prompted me to think about such a thing. Let me tell you a little story about me and my journey thus far:

You see, for over a year, I was spoiled by not working a part time job and I was able to focus on my business. My husband and I were blessed that I could do this for a year before I had to break down and get a job.

During this time, I networked heavily. I was surrounded by entrepreneurs and professionals ALL THE TIME. I loved it! These people had great vibes, good energy and completely understood me. Every time I went networking, I came home refreshed, revitalized, and energized!

When I began looking for a job, which by the way (and no judging here!) was in the restaurant business as a hostess. I chose this particular position because I knew it was an easy hire and I had been a hostess before when I was in college. I also chose a restaurant that is only open for breakfast and lunch; so no nights for me. Which is something I wanted because I still networked and had obligations at night that I couldn’t give up.

The first month was very rough for me and the reason why it was so difficult for me was because I realized that these people were NOT professionals! And that made me so mad! I would get so upset because these adults were not acting professionally, they were controlling, and most of all, they didn’t care (neither did management)!

Since I had been spoiled with professionalism and people who were constantly expanding themselves, I found myself realizing that most of these people were wanting to stay servers and not go out and further themselves. For me, that was a horrible experience! How could anyone not want to get out of this place and gain a better life?!

So what changed within me? Because you know my external surroundings were not going to change!

The biggest change was the realization that not everyone is invited to partake in my journey.

It’s not that I’m being mean or snobby, but I’m a high achiever who wants to screw any job and do what I want when I want; I want to be my own boss and I want WAY more than two weeks of vacation per year!

Once I came to the realization, my whole attitude changed. I still don’t like working part-time, but I know it’s a seasonal position and it’s what I need to build my empire for this time of my life.

Realizing that my journey and their journey is in two different lanes is completely OK with me now. I can’t invite everyone on my journey because not everyone has the same dream as me. Maybe their dream is to make ends meet by serving. That’s okay. My dream isn’t that and that’s ok too.

I am going to make this statement right now because I have found this true in my life: You may not be able to invite your family or close friends with you either. Your family may not understand the time and energy it takes to build an empire. Your best friend may be horrified that you work 60+ hours a week just to maintain afloat. It’s okay. Be okay with that.

I know it’s tough to not invite your family or even best friend on your journey, but it doesn’t mean they will always be like that. Perhaps one day they will understand and be part of your journey.

Next time you feel bogged down by people who don’t understand you, then remember that not everyone is invited on your journey and that is 100% ok and guilt free. Not everyone was cut out to be an entrepreneur (if it was easy, everyone would be doing it, right?).

So who do you invite on your journey?

You invite the people who have the same vision as you; you select the few individuals who are in your life who says, “I can see you doing that” or “You will make it! Keep going!” I would also encourage you to select the people who have the same mindset as you; if you’re an entrepreneur, then select entrepreneurs to be welcomed on your journey. These people will be your light in your darkness and your traction when you’re stuck in mud. That’s who you want on your journey. Invite other empire makers who want to see you succeed in building yours.

As we walk into a brand new year, who can you select today to be welcomed on your journey? How can you show them that you have officially invited them to board the Go-Getter Train? The Bigger-Than-Life-Dreams Train? It’s going to depart one day and they will either be on it or not; how can you let them know you want them on board, ready to rock and roll with you?

Monica Miller is a Book Writing Coach and Writer who helps women transform lives one word at a time through book writing and story sharing. She has been writing professionally for more than eight years and has one published book with two more in the making. Monica loves helping women find their confidence to adopt and write their books as they go through their writing journey. She believes that no writer should be left alone while on their journey so she comes along side them to get their book from their heads and onto paper quicker and easier! Monica enjoys spending time with her husband, Nathan, and their two dogs, Casey and Bella. She also loves hugging her cat, Sassy, and enjoys coloring, tanning beside a body of water and traveling.

Blog Society Book Club

I mentioned last week that I'm not a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions - instead opting for a more natural approach that is all about intention. I prefer to choose a word that will steer and guide me throughout the next 12 months and for 2016 that word is 'nourish'. 

I'm attempting to thread this theme within all aspects of my life - business, relationships, fitness, health and wellbeing. To kickstart the year I'm nourishing my mind by finally returning to my love of reading.  Yes it's time to stop ordering creative bestsellers and time to start actually reading them!  

Which brings me to my news today...I'm officially kicking off the first Blog Society Book Club on 1 February and I'm inviting you to join us! This book club will be virtual, with discussions held on our social media channels - all of which will be fun, informal and designed to inspire.

To get involved just pop your name here and feel free to share with friends or fellow biz chicks. Our first book choice and all the other fun details will be landing in your inbox shortly! Happy reading! x Jac

An enticement to self-publish by not bestselling author, April Klasen

By April Klasen

Self-publishing is no longer a dirty word.

E L James, Amanda Hocking, Isaac Marion and Mathew Riley all started as indie authors. If you go back in history you will find Beatrix Potter, Vladimir Nabokov and countless others who couldn’t publish traditionally and so took the risk and put their money where their pen was. They are the amazing success stories. As a warning; you can dream big of being a huge publishing success but understand it is timing, luck and hard work that takes you from unknown to bestselling.

My name is April Klasen and I am still in the unknown category with five books independently published. One of these days I will have total world domination. Until then, I’m refining my genius. 

Being an indie author isn’t for the quiet girl in the back of the room (though this will teach you to be more assertive) or the woman only wanting that one book out and never to think of it again. This is the path for those with thick skin, attention to detail and a little on the OCD side. You cannot be disorganised or lack motivation. Why? You are the only worker. 

You have to get the book through editing and formatting and upload the files and publish it and promote it. No-one else will do it for you. This is your baby. You are a god-like creature if you can do all that and bring a story into this world. You will influence the minds of readers the world over.

It can be a little addictive.

Everyone needs to start somewhere, for me I started with taking advice from my writer friend Rebecca Trowbridge. I stumbled a lot the first time. Like a hell of a lot. But I learned and moved on to the next and the ones after that. I cringe as I look at my first novel and how crappy it is only a few years later however I took the risk and started my career in self-publishing.

Step one: Write.

There is no point in dreaming of being published if you have nothing written. Don’t wait for one day, if you have an idea then write the bloody thing down! For me, my push came in the form of National Novel Writing Month when I was seventeen. By writing the worst story ever (virgins should really avoid writing erotic fiction) I created the neurological pathways in my mind that allows me to write freely now years later. The first time is always the worst, but with practice it gets better (and so does your writing). See, initially the action is unfamiliar and you are struggling to get the words out, not sure how the story should be structured or any other basic writing technical stuff. For the next book, you are familiar with the process and it’s a little easier. 

So write! 

Fifty thousand words is a novel, aim for it. Don’t be afraid.

Step two: Leave.

Don’t look at it. Don’t read it. Stick it in the bottom of a draw or in the boot of your boyfriend’s car. Leave it alone for at least three weeks. Then read it and begin to edit.

Step three: Edit.

Even if the mistake is right in your face, you will not see it after the amount of personal time you have spent with the manuscript. This is one of the jobs you will have to subcontract; editing. A good editor will find the plot holes, ask questions and clean up the spelling mistakes. A great editor will laugh, cry and help you fill in those holes. A crappy editor will make you feel like an amateur, but they lose out because you don’t ever have to go back to them with your next book.

All manuscripts need to be edited. This is your reputation you are sharing with the world; do you want to be professional and deliver the best that you can? Or deliver something messy that the reader has to try to work out? You can find editors through The Society of Editors (NSW) Inc. or by doing a general search for one through Google. Every editor is unique and it means taking a risk to see if the both of you will work well together or not. Sorry, that’s the way it is. I’m still looking for my dream editor.

Don’t forget; you have final say. In no way must you accept all changes to your story. That is the beauty of self-publishing.

Step four: Accounts.

This is where you need to remember a whole lot of different passwords. You will need to sign up with book sellers like Amazon (they are the largest book retailers in the world and you can do your e-books through them though my experience hasn’t been very good with their system, but they are huge), lulu.com (their paperback service is the best I have found and they have printers all over the world including Australia, e-books not as good) who distributes to all major online retailers, and smashwords.com (their website might be a little shabby but their e-book system is simple, unfortunately they don’t list books on Amazon unless you sell a certain amount with them before, but they are great to deal with). Think of the social platforms that will help you connect with readers, look into getting a blog (you can start one for free) maybe a facebook page or even start collecting fans with wattpad or tablo.io; both sites allow you to post stories of any length, update them and talk to fans. 

Consider the possibility of purchasing ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers which help identify your books to libraries or stockists), some publishing service providers will offer them for free but there is no guarantee they will let you remove your book from their virtual shelves.  It is their number so they keep it if you go somewhere else. If you have your own numbers (don’t bother with buying barcodes, you can get them free online) you can print that book anywhere, whenever, however. ISBN’s are available from myidentifiers.com.au and sell single, ten, one hundred and one thousand lots. Remember each format has a separate number; e-book, paperback, audio and any translations will each have their own ISBNs.

Step five: Prepare.

E-books have a different format to paperbacks. Smashwords has an easy to follow guide book you can download for free and you can do it yourself. Lulu has templates for paperbacks (though some sizes are not available for retail, if you want to sell; A5, US Trade and Pocket books are all good to go). Just upload the files to the site you have chosen to work with, design the book cover (I would suggest doing it yourself if you have some artistic flair, if not subcontract it out and make sure you purchase the copyright of the image so you can do what you want with it) order a proof of the paperback, go through it and make sure it is all correct, then...

Step six: Publish.

Hit that button. It is out there for the world to see... if they know about it. When you self-publish, you have all the rights but also all of the responsibility. Your book isn’t going to sell if you do no promotion. Whore your pretty babies out as much as you can. Talk to your local library and see if they will let you have a launch party (I know, I cringe at the thought of acting so cocky and have not done one myself), send out press-releases to every place you can think of, look at the contacts you have with social media and let them know that you have a book out. Try to be tasteful about it. There is a fine line between promoting and annoying; post links to the purchase page for your book on your social media page and with other appropriate group pages, don’t private message people with the link and demand a review.

These six steps are the glossy version of what you need to do to self-publish. There will be a lot of hard work and research you will need to do and it might not seem worth it in the short term. Publishing a book is a long term investment. It might be twenty years in the future and several books self-published later when the public suddenly realises that you are the next big thing and go crazy.

Copyright, at the moment, is automatic and is valid seventy years after your death unless you use a pseudonym, which limits copyright to only your lifetime. There has been chatter that some government parties want to change it “for the better” cough, cough to make them money. Hopefully that doesn’t happen or else a copyright will be short term and you will have to pay to maintain it.

Don’t forget to look at what you have to submit to the National Library of Australia, each new book needs to be sent as a Legal Deposit within a certain time frame. Check out the website for more information.

For a more detailed look at self-publishing, duck over to 'April Klasen Author' and start your own publishing journey. It is hard work and everybody has a different story, but by the end you will be a published author with all rights remaining yours. And total world domination within reach.

April Klasen is an independently published author of five novels (with a secret stash of other manuscripts waiting to be edited under the bed), a blogger and an expert on finding new hiding places to read uninterrupted. She lives in rural NSW and some would say the local library is her second home. April has aspired to be a stripper, journalist, police officer, actress, film director, taxidermists, pilot, and pyrotechnician, among other things. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the safety of the public) none of these dreams have come true. So she writes instead. For more stories by April visit her website.