I'm brand new; this is my second question. My proposed book is based on a blog I developed as an archive over the past five years while helping type 2 diabetics on various forums. The blog is free, and most of the book's content is already on the web on the blog. Here it is: Type 2 Diabetes - A Personal Journey
I realise that the blog itself can be a marketing tool after I publish. I would prefer not to close it down because it gets several thousand hits monthly to read the information on it. That's a lot of people to disappoint if I close it.
How severely would you expect a freely available blog like that to reduce book sales if the readers can get my content for free on the web? I'm still going to publish, but I'm wondering if keeping the blog going will severely restrict the book's success or whether there are techniques I could use to make the book a success without restricting the blog. Unfortunately, I won't be offering new, secret miracles or anything like that, different to the blog, in the book.
I can't answer your question totally but can say with certainty that shutting the blog down would be a mistake. To say it's a helpful marketing tool would be an understatement. Going by personal experience, there is a strong liklihood that the blog will drive the bulk of your book sales. The more traffic you can drive to the blog, the greater your sales.
The difficulty,as you mention, is balancing what people can get for free on the site vs. getting in the book. I know the book is already written but long term I'd use the blog to touch on subjects in a general way and then get into more detail in the book.
Selling fiction is HARD as I'm sure you've figured out if you've followed this community for long. You have a distinct advantage in that your subject is non-fiction and applies to a very broad market base.
If nothing else, the one thing I've learned from this forum is that you need to spend as much, if not more, on the marketing aspects as you do actually writing the book. Good luck.
I know of a fellow who blogged for years about his newborn growing into toddler etc. He eventually turned the blog into a book. The blog is still there in its entirety. Does he sell a lot of books? I have no idea. I think the premise is that you can scroll around the website and sit online to read it all, or you can buy it and read it in the bathroom, bus, plane or wherever. I have no doubt it makes a good gift being about babies and toddlers.
My book started out as articles on the internet, not exactly a blog. My husband suggested that with all of the material I already had, why not turn it into a book? I added several more chapters not available online and Bad Dog to Best Friend was born. It's hard to leave the existing portions online but I'm hoping they create buyers of people who want the physical book in their hands.
I did create a super cheap Kindle version with excerpts so it has three price points: $14.95 (full paperback), $4.99 (full Kindle) and $1.99 (Kindle excerpts = 3 chapters of the most likely portions people would want to have). I've always heard that the best marketing strategy is to give people options.
Alan, I'm glad you asked this question, as I had the same concerns.
I started a blog about how I conquered fear and anxiety (panic attacks) without medicine a few years back. I put a LOT of information on there, and actually went back and copied/pasted to retrieve my info to compile my manuscript. I'm anxious to get my book completed so that I can start on my second book.
As a person who is married to someone who has type II diabetes, I would probably prefer to read your information from a book -- especialy if it's something that I need to keep referring back to. Writing/offering MY OWN experiences into a book is more helpful as anxious people need to constantly be reassured. Having a BOOK in one's hand is BEST for those non-fiction SELF-HELPS! -- my opinion
I checked your site, and noticed you had traveled. I left a comment in your Egyptian travel section as I too had been in Cairo with similar experiences. I'm already thinking of my second book about my backpacking adventures in the Middle East. I went by myself, with my young daughter. It was something I would have never done in a million years when I used to suffer from fear and anxiety! Both of my books will compliment one another as they are BOTH about facing fears and making dreams happen. Which reminds me, I had compiled a lot of my travel info here http://sluglines.blogspot.com and will need to retrieve for my second book.
So yes, I've asked myself those same questions!
Thanks Helen, both for the comment on the travel blog (check out the Jordan section too) and reassurance on keeping the diabetes blog alive.
I've bookmarked your blog and as soon as I get time I'll look in more detail. Right now my head is spinning as I wander back and forward between learning how to use Word 2007 properly for layout, contents and all that, converting to pdf (I'm using online acrobat), working out whether I need a lawyer for the disclaimer, and a million other things that are all old hat to the old-timers here. And still spending several hours daily on the ADA forum, dLife and other places.
Your hubby is T2? If he only ever reads one page of my blog, make it this one: Test, Review, Adjust
Of course, he'll think it's obsessive. But it works
Well, I'm new at this too. I've discovered free templates you can download to help with book formatting if you're in a hurry. I'm just going to type up my own disclaimer on my book in reference to the fact that my writing is based on MY OWN EXPERIENCES (even travel) and it's all OPINION. As long as I don't approach the self-help genre by "telling" people what to think/do, and just TELL MY OWN STORY, I should be good to go. No lawyers, and other than a friend or two to read my manuscript, my proof will be edited.
I will check out your Jordan experience when I get a chance. I'd love to go back there and see Petra again! Feel free to PM me if you need any marketing research on potential customers. As a person who lives with a type II diabetic, I understand the frustration in trying to come up with interesting meals and the aggravation involved when a meal that is proudly served raises sugar! Low carbing seems to help him for the most part, and I low carb too to keep my weight down - 5 days a week. You have a good topic to write about, so stay on course! Again, I worked several years in marketing research, so I tend to turn every opportunity into a marketing tool!
From my experience blogging has turned out to be a complete waste of time. For one thing, you are giving away information you could include in a book, and for another people appear to be more enamored of tweeting than reading a "rant" (at least that's what some people call it). I find more interaction in participation in a forum like this one where the response is more immediate. A blog just sits there, and when you don't get any comments on it one wonders if one is reaching the right audience. Blogging is becoming more old school communication, while tweeting and texting have taken over people's lives, if they are not sticking their noses in a book. I say, save your writing and turn them into chapters, then group them by topic and publish a book.
The real advantage of a blog is that you get continual hits to it once you've posted a lot. That said, I've sold more books using Twitter than I have blogging, even though tweeting is much easier.
You need to read this article: http://www.tribalwriter.com/2010/09/16/how-small-steps-can-make-you-a-published-writer-and-social-media-ninja/
"When you’re consistent like this, you become a constant and familiar presence in those spaces where you live online. People like consistency. It builds trust. And the trust gap is what you need to close in order to persuade them to one day take a chance on your work. Even free stuff isn’t free, because it requires the investment of somebody’s time – and time, as they say, is money."
Your blog is part of your platform, and works in conjunction with -- not in isolation from -- your other platform tools: Twitter, Facebook, forums, speaking engagements, book signings, and your book! You have to keep working at it. It's only a waste of time if you fail to maintain it, fail to be interesting, fail to provide valuable content, fail to engage your readers...
Seth Godin gives away so much on his blog through posting useful content, free ebooks etc and he has recently dumped his publisher and is now self-publishing all his books because he has a massive following and will be very successful going it alone.
Joanna Penn, self-publishing advocate, also gives away a lot of free content, podcasts, newsletters etc and I guarantee you she sells a LOT of books.
These are just a couple big names in self-publishing off the top of my head. But I can confidently say that all the successful self-publishers blog daily, and give away a lot of free content that they could save for their books, but can see more value in using that to build and maintain their following, which in turn sells more books. Makes perfect sense to me.