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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authors, book marketing, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

A book every author needs to read: Platfom: Get Noticed in Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

3DPlatformLast week I was meeting with the executive team of a very successful traditional publisher and the conversation turned to marketing books.  I mentioned I was currently reading the book,  Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael HyattI have been aware of the book for some time and recommended it in the past just based on what I know of Mike’s experience. But it has finally moved to the top of my stack and I am reading it right now.

I started to share why I thought it was such a great book for authors to read and the president of the publisher interrupted me and said he bought a copy of the book  to give to every one of the authors they publish.  He said they had been working on developing material to give to their authors to equip them for the marketing task at hand, but when he read Mike’s book, he realized everything he wanted to say was in that book.

….the president of the publisher interrupted me and said he bought a copy of the book  to give to every one of the authors they publish.

That was fascinating to me, but not that surprising now that I have read the book.  The job of marketing books has changed and more and more of the work is falling to the authors whether they are traditionally published or self published.  Yet many authors are perplexed or overwhelmed by what they need to do. That is why Mike’s book is so helpful.

Here’s why I think every author needs to read this book no matter what publishing path is chosen.

  1. The content of the book comes from Mike’s own experience. This is not theory. This comes from years of lessons learned from building his own following and platform.
  2. The examples are very practical and easy to implement.  In many ways, this book is a check list for what you need to think about and do if you want to build a platform. And for the things you may not want to do or can do, he suggests vendors that can help.
  3. He shares what has and has not worked. Sometimes failure is a better teacher than success. In this book, Mike shares some of the things that didn’t work as well so you don’t have to make those same mistakes.
  4. He points out things that you might not think about, but that are very important.  This is not the first time I have thought about or read about this topic, but I found the book had many helpful things to consider. For example, Mike talks about the importance of the About Me  section of the blog or web site. To be frank, it would not be something I would pay much attention to prior to reading this book. Now I see it’s importance.

Building a platform is absolutely essential for authors today, and so if you have not read this book, I highly recommend you put it on the top of your pile.  You won’t be sorry.

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Author Solutions, authors, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson

Former Colts punter Hunter Smith publishes book about the negative and positive impact of wearing an NFL Jersey

It is football season so it seemed appropriate to have at least one blog post that recogonizes the impact the pig skin has in America. Hunter Smith, former punter in the NFL has written an interesting book titled, The Jersey Effect, which includes a forward by Tony Dungy and interviews with numerous players. Smith wrote the book to bring to light the allure and potential downfall wearing an NFL jersey can bring in an athlete’s life who is not prepared for life after football.  It is worth a read even if you are not involved in football because it points out some key principles that are applicable in other areas of life. Hunter is a man of faith and published with Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson, so the message is clearly written from a Christian world view, but it is not overly religious. I have included a couple of videos where Hunter talks about topics from the book.

 

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authors, book marketing, book selling, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

Michael Hyatt offers his recipe for success: Content + Platform

I did a post a few days ago that introduced you to Michael Hyatt’s new book, Platform, Getting Noticed in a Noisy World.  It is a very helpful book written by someone who has years of experience working with authors and personally building his own platform. In this interview, Mike starts off by talking about how the days of the author writing the book and the publisher selling the book are over. Authors have to be engaged in marketing and connecting with an audience and this book gives practical, insightful, helpful advice on how to do that. In this interview, Mike talks about the two key elements for success in today’s marketplace: content and a platform.

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authors, book marketing, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

5 keys to building your platform from the new book by Michael Hyatt.

Mike Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson publishers,  has been an innovator in the publishing industry his whole career.  He was one of the first CEOs to utilize the power of social media for his company, himself and authors.  From his experience, he has written an amazingly helpful book on how to build your platform.  In the past eight years, he has generated some impressive numbers:

  • 300,000+ unique monthly visitors
  • 123,000+ Twitter followers
  • 92,000+ monthly podcast listeners
  • 70,000+ newsletter subscribers
  • 17,000+ Facebook fans

So his advice is not theory. It is lessons learned from his experience and they are lessons every author can apply. Here’s what Mike  says about this book on his blog .

Listen, in the past eight years, I’ve experienced every setback, mistake, and headache you can imagine while building my own platform. But I’ve also managed to generate:

The point of those numbers is not to brag. The point is to illustrate that I know what works (and what you should avoid). I carefully documented everything I learned in building my platform—successes AND failures.

Platform consists of five sections and sixty, short chapters full of practical steps, real-world examples, and helpful resources. It is not armchair theory. It is not idle speculation. It is full of “news you can use” to help you build your own platform.

I highly recommend it.

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authors, Publishing, self publishing

The publishing journey of Annie Downs: From self publishing to traditional contract.

In other posts, I have suggested for some time that agents and traditional publishers are watching self-published authors for titles that may make sense for them to pick up. The story of Annie Downs is further evidence that is happening. You can watch Annie’s video interview below and hear it directly from her, but I think her story is quite interesting. She is a blogger and speaker and found she was missing an opportunity by not having a book. So she chose to publish with Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and a strategic partner with Author Solutions. What makes her story interesting is she was not picked up by Nelson, who watches Westbow titles closely, but she was actually picked up by Zondervan, who is a competitor of Nelson. I find that interesting because Annie is a first time author and may not have been published by either Nelson or Zondervan if she only pursued  a traditional publishing option. However, she self published, started to build a following and a platform and Zondervan picked up her book. Pretty cool.

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self publishing, Thomas Nelson

Thomas Nelson picks up self-published title: Three Cups

When Thomas Nelson launched Westbow Press, there was the promise that they would watch the titles for sales velocity and if they saw one, they would pick up. Some critics shrugged at the idea of this “farm team” concept and said it was simply a money play. Not true. Nelson just announced the pick up of a title called, Three Cups. I have read the book. It is quite good. Here’s video interview with the authors that tells the story.

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