How to Create a Blog that Sells Books

Logo of How to Blog a Book, Nina Amir's blog
That is the question haunting every writer worth her/his salt...

Publishers and agents say you need a blog, that you must build up your "author platform" and that nothing will work as well as a blog - not your author website (because it's static, nothing happens on it), not your Twitter or Facebook pages or any of the other networks, like Pinterest, Instagram and messaging apps...Too much noise and who's ever bought a book on the basis of a Tweet or a picture?  Ok, some may have, but not too many...

And now Facebook forces you to buy ads if you want to be noticed - your "likes" may rise, but what about clicks on that "buy" button?

So could it be that the good old blog may yet be the best place to build your author platform and link to readers?

I don't know about you, but I've blogged for years (since 2009) and never noticed a link between my blog and my book sales. A link to readers? Yes, definitely. I love to see my blog stats about the people who come and read my posts, I'm even happier when you guys comment...but book sales?

There seems to be a disconnect.

Best-selling author and coach, Nina Amir has the answer. She is the "blog-a-book" (or the reverse: book-a-blog) guru and her "how-to" guide has been a best seller on Amazon for years. Her revised and expanded version of "How to Blog a Book", out two weeks ago, has just hit #1 in the "new release" listing in the "writing and composition" category:

Available from Amazon here

I spent the week-end reading it and mulling over the idea.

It's obviously a great way to market "test" your book idea: if people flock to your blogged book, it obviously means there's a market for it.  And when your blog traffic grows exponentially, publishers and literary agents take note. Many bloggers have thus landed lucrative traditional publishing deals or gone on to self-published success.

But the idea of breaking up a manuscript in "bloggable" tid-bits (300 to 500 words posts recommended) and to publish posts every day (or a minimum of 3 times a week) for as many months as needed to finish the blogged book is simply...daunting! And once the book is out, you can't really stop publishing posts on your blog, you need to keep it alive with at least two posts per week.

Some people have the stamina to do this and Nina Amir herself clearly does (she runs 5 blogs!) And she still manages to smile and look totally relaxed...

It requires Teutonic, disciplined planning, the ability to write a detailed outline and plan every post as sub-points in the blogged book's chapters. Nina Amir claims you can write as you go along and that it even helps you to finish your manuscript - a problem for non-fiction writers who are often stuck with book proposals they haven't sold yet and as a result they don't get on with their writing. So blogging-a-book  no doubt helps non-fiction writers, but it may not work so well for novelists - particularly the "pantsers" among you, i.e. those who simply cannot write to an outline and are carried along by their muse...A fickle lady who will sometimes embark you down the wrong road and then you need to cut everything out and start over (I know, it's happened to me, I find it difficult to work to an outline). But are you willing to share on Internet your "hiccups" with your (potential) readers? I'm not sure I'd have the guts to do it.

Then, there's a second type of problem should you decide to self-publish: you can use KDP, no problem, but not KDP Select: as you know, it has that exclusivity clause for 90 days and requires you to take everything down on all sites, not just Smashwords and Barnes and Noble, Kobo etc but also your own blog!  You're only allowed to leave 10 percent of your book on your blog.

In fact, according to Nina, experience shows that those who landed a traditional publishing deal often wrote anywhere between 40 and 60 percent more, to provide readers with new material.

To sum up: my impression is that blogging a book (or doing the reverse, making a book out of blog posts) works well to attract readers but it is a strategy that requires a little caution. It's probably a good idea not to blog the whole book but only part of it in order to give readers something new to look forward to when they buy the book. And the strategy is easier to apply to non-fiction, especially to "how-to" books that are a compilation of tips, tricks, advice of any sort that can be "cut up" in self-standing bits and pieces. If you think your book lends itself to this strategy, get Nina Amir's book, it is really chock-full of excellent and detailed advice, I highly recommend it.

As for myself, I'm still mulling it over. I do have a non-fiction book in the works, about the United Nations, but I'm not sure I can cut it up in bits and pieces as short as 300 to 500 word posts - though, as anyone who's following this blog knows, I've already published a number of articles about the UN on Impakter, in that magazine's philanthropy section...And I have the first draft of a novel in a United Nations setting - but again,  the way I write, scenes are rarely amenable to such short pieces, it takes me more than 500 words to build up to a cliffhanger...On the other hand, I could share my writer's journey with you, mixing some excerpts from my books with what I come across when I do research for both books. That might be a way to "blog a book" without actually reproducing it on the Net...

Your point of view? Have you ever blogged your book or thought about it?


Franca Famous said…
Very impressive post. It is very relevant and accurate. Thanks for sharing