Author Solutions, authors, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

From blog to book: Westbow Press author Mark Eckel tells how he did it.

I just need time to thinkI speak to bloggers all the time who generate content on a regular basis and contemplate creating a book from their blog, but they never quite seem to get the goal.  That’s why I was pleased to speak with Mark Eckel, who has turned his blog content into a book titled, I Just Need Time to Think: Reflective Study as Christian Practice, which was published by Westbow Press.

Mark (meckel@lbc.edu) is Professor of Leadership, Education, and Discipleship for Capital Seminary & Graduate School.  Indianapolis,  Dr. Eckel has written and published curricula, peer-reviewed journal articles, periodical essays, book and movie reviews, as well as his weekly blog Warp and Woof.

I was curious to find out how he accomplished a goal many bloggers talk about but never accomplish.  I think you will find his answers to my questions  very helpful and motivating.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Compulsion. I was induced and coerced into putting pen to paper. As a Christian I know that being compelled to write comes from The Spirit of God who lives in me. In our culture, the natural means for writing is what has come to be known as “blogging.” I was inspired from the inside to write, inspired from the outside to blog.

What have you found most enjoyable about maintaining a blog?

Everything. I enjoy all of life and revel in the whole of the world. The title for someone like me in a university setting is “interdisciplinarian.” I believe everything crisscrosses everything else creating a unity we know is there but cannot see. A blog allows me to explore everything I read, see, hear, and do. Enthusiasm about knowledge and excitement about sharing what I have discovered with others brings a smile to my face.

What made you decide to turn your blog into a book?

Credibility. The immediacy of blogging is clear: information floods our world so we can access the data instantaneously. A book has the power of physical, visible influence. Rightly or wrongly, people gauge some authority based on what a person can show they have accomplished. As an academic I wanted to have three books available for people who would demonstrate my ability in reflective study, movie review, and teaching-learning.

Why was it important to have your content as a book and not just as a blog?

Credentialing. As a teacher for over 30 years I have had to document the outcomes of my craft. As an author, I now have a record for others to assess. By writing a book I am holding myself accountable to others who can now critique my work as an academic. But I am also answering questions that everyone ponders in one way or another. A book says to people, “You cared enough to organize your thoughts about a subject so that we could read them in one whole book.”

 What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

Eckel blog

Author Mark Eckel took his blog http://www.warpandwoof.org and turned into a book from his post.

 Write. Just write. Don’t wait, write. Write when you want to, write when you don’t want to. Write now, write then. Set up a time that is best for you to write, but then, write. For me, I have the most creative energy in the morning. I normally wake up by 4 a.m. or before. I stay away from email and internet. I read at least 40 to 50 pages of periodicals or books. I take notes. I write while I’m reading and note-taking. But my counsel is always the same: write, write, write.

What advice would you give someone who wants to turn his or her blog into a book?

 Plan. A book is very different from a blog. If you read my website (www.warpandwoof.org) you will see I write about a lot of different subjects. But when I’m planning to create a book I have to ask myself my purpose for my subject. For instance, when I was writing my current book When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice (Westbow, September, 2014 release) I wrote weekly for six months toward the book. My plan about writing a book about movies was first generated through my blog.

 What has been most surprising to you once you published your book?

I Just Need Time to Think: Reflective Study as Christian Practice (Westbow, 2014) gave me vigor to write again. I did not expect to want to put another book together immediately but I was energized to do When the Lights Go Down and am now planning the third in the series Education is Ownership: Teaching-Learning as Christian Practice (working title, forthcoming). Instead of being tired of writing, I want to write more!

 Anything else you would want to tell readers?

Read. If you don’t read you won’t write. You can read a tablet, laptop, or hold the spine of a book in your hand—but read. Read everything you can get your hands on about your passion. Read people who disagree with you. Read authors you don’t know. Read to learn more and understand by reading, how much more you don’t know. Reading should be a humbling experience. Now I want to tell people about what I read. If I want to write, I have to read.

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Author Solutions, authors, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Mistakes spell check would miss, but a good editor will catch.

One of the most important things self-published authors can do is have their book edited by an experienced professional. Spell check does not count as editing despite what some first time authors may think. Let me just give you a few examples of mistakes in the following sentences that spell check would miss.

  1. I did not here the gate change for my flight; so I did not get there bags on the plane.
  2. Once I realized I needed to move myself foreword: I had the angel I needed to see what I needed to sea.
  3. He was so surprised. He looked like a dear in the headlights.

See if you can find them all and post your answers in the comment section.

In a few days, I will post the answers.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book signings, Indie book publishing, self publishing

Confused about how to do book marketing? Here is a simple way to build an effective marketing plan.

Book Marketing sign postIt wasn’t that long ago that the biggest challenge for a writer was getting published. Clearly that has changed because now there are four paths to publishing which I have written about extensively. So getting your book into the hands of readers is not the obstacle it once was. Now what I hear from authors is confusion about how to market their books. They seem overwhelmed or not sure where to start.

Knowing this POEM will help you.

So in this blog post I want to give you a simple framework and acronym for how to think about book marketing that will take some of the mystery out of the process. Any good integrated marketing campaign has four key activities. Publicity. Online. Events. Multi-Media. That forms the acronym POEM, which is an easy way to remember what you need to do.

Publicity is using the traditional media to make sure people know about your book. By traditional media, I mean newspapers, television and radio. To be effective in this activity, you need to be clear on the elevator pitch for your book and the audience you are trying to reach. Tactically, you will likely need a press release and a simple media kit you can use to pitch producers and journalists. The key with publicity as with the other categories is being clear on what you are going to do and what you need to hire someone to do for you.

On-line is perhaps the biggest opportunity for all authors. I believe a key element is having a blog. This is a way to create an ongoing connection with your audience. Use keywords and tags to make your content show up in searches. And be sure to have an email for media who want to reach you.

You should also be selective and strategic about social media platforms. What I have learned is Facebook is good for some books and worthless for others. Same thing with LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and whatever the next platform that will appear. Try some things and figure out what works best for your book. Use the analytics available to you to see what creates traffic and engagement. Also, be sure to gather email addresses. That way you are building a list to which you can market future opportunities.

Book signingEvents is the third area where you should focus. The first and most important event is your book launch party. You can do this in very creative ways, but every author should celebrate the publication of the book. Then look for other opportunities for book signings and speaking engagements in your area with groups that would be interested in your topic. Libraries are also a great place to connect with for events.

Multi-media is the fourth area of a solid integrated marketing plan. We are an image driven culture so I believe having a video or book trailer is critical. If you do one, make sure it is produced well. You want it to make a good first impression and you can use it to help you with your other areas. Post it on your blog. Send it as part of your pitch to media. You may also want to consider creating an app for your book depending on what type of book you have.

 

Putting POEM to work for you.

Marketing is work, but with POEM you have a framework for creating the right type of plan to make sure you are engaged in the right activities and not missing something. However, even with a plan, the biggest challenge for many authors is persistence and consistency. It is easy to get discouraged, but the most successful self-published authors I know just keep at it.

Questions to ask as you get started.

So look at what you are doing right now. Do you have plans or activity in each of the four key categories of an integrated campaign? If so, that is great, but no matter what you are doing now, you should still write down a six or twelve month plan to keep yourself accountable. Then once you do that, you should make an honest assessment of what you can do yourself and where you need help.

Hopefully you find POEM helpful and please use the comment section to let me know what else you are doing to organize your marketing activities.

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