I 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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?
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.
In my last post, I suggested that spell check does not take the place of a good editor. In fact, it will overlook errors that an editor will catch. I gave these examples and asked you to see if you could find the mistakes.
- I did not here the gate change for my flight; so I did not get there bags on the plane.
- Once I realized I needed to move myself foreword: I had the angel I needed to see what I needed to sea.
- He was so surprised. He looked like a dear in the headlights.
How many did you catch?
Also if you are looking for other information about editing, just simply type editing into the search box on the blog and you will find some helpful posts.
In conjunction with the release of its 225,000th title, Author Solutions has released a video titled, “Special Delivery: Holding Your Book for the First Time.”. This unique compilation captures a range of authors speaking about what it was like to see a copy of their print book for the first time.
Two of the authors, Donna Schwenk and J. L Witterick were eventually picked up by traditional publishers, Hay House andG.P. Putnam’s Sons respectively, one of the world’s leading trade imprints of Penguin.
If you are still working on your manuscript, I think this video will motivate you to write to the finish.
Along with losing weight, start exercising and quit smoking, one of the more common New Year’s resolutions is publish a book. However, for most first-time authors, that task may seem confusing or unachievable. It does not have to be.
On Tuesday, January 7th at 7:30 pm EST, I want to give you some tips on how you can fulfill your New Year’s publishing resolution and make 2014 the year you become a published author. Through the Author Learning Center, I will offer a FREE webinar titled, “6 tips on how to get published in 2014″. Along with presenting helpful hints to get you to your goal, there will be a time for you to ask questions. While there is no charge for the webinar, registrations are limited, so don’t wait to sign up. Click on the link below and I look forward to hearing from you next Tuesday.
Archway Publishing, the self publishing service of Simon and Schuster which is operated by Author Solutions, has offered some outstanding webinars in the past year to help authors understand what they need to do to make their books as good as they can be. One of the presenters was Abby Zidle, senior editor at Simon and Schuster who did a presentation titled Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make. The webinar is free and you can watch it by clicking here. As a sampler of what you can expect, Abby offers some helpful tips in this 90 second video titled Avoiding Mistakes First-time Writers Make. Definitely worth watching if you are in the proess of workig on a manuscript.
Completing a manuscript can be a lonely journey filled with self-doubt, but these two videos from the winners of two writing contests serve as an inspiration to all writers that persevering to complete the work is worth the effort. Laurie Norlander entered the Women of Faith writing contest last year and is now a published author. Her book, Mirrored Images and her story is featured in this video.
Another first time author, Stacey Navarro, shares her story in this video. As a stay-at-home mom, she wanted to write a book that was something her daughters would want to read. That motivation was enough to get her to finish her manuscript and enter the Crossbooks writing contest. Her description of what happened when she learned she won is worth watching the video. As with Laurie, her words will be an encouragement to any one working on a book.