Let’s assume you’ve been blogging for a while—maybe even a long while. You’ve got a lot of posts to rummage through. This can feel quite overwhelming, maybe as overwhelming as writing a book from scratch.
So, let’s chunk the process down. Just like with any book, you have to begin by planning out your book’s content. Stop looking at all those blog posts you’ve already written and ask yourself some really hard (or maybe easy) questions about the book you want to compile. (Remember, you aren’t really writing a book but repurposing already written material into a manuscript.) Here are the questions I’d begin with:
- What topic do you want to write about?
- If the topic is broad (ex. dog training), what aspect of the topic will you focus on (ex. humane dog training techniques)?
- What subtopics will you include (ex. training with treats, training with voice commands, training off leash, etc.)?
It’s a good idea to take a little time to look at what other books have been written on your topic. Make sure the angle you have decided to take with your book is unique. You want your book to be different from the other books already published, to “fill a hole” on the book store shelves.
With this basic foundation, you now need to map out the content of your book in greater detail. I suggest actually doing a mind mapping exercise. I described this process when I blogged How to Blog a Book because it’s useful for creating the content—the posts that you will write in each of your chapters—for a blogged book (or any book), but the process works for booking a blog as well.
You can purchase mind mapping software or download free software, like Freemind (See photo above for an example of from Freemind.com). The easiest way to complete the exercise, though, involves purchasing a large poster board and some colored sticky notes or Post It Notes. I like the square kind of Post Its you can use to mark pages in a book as you read but that aren’t so shiny you can’t write on them. Some people like doing this exercise on a large white board with erasable markers as well.
Put a large Post It note in the middle of the board and write your topic on it. Now start writing related topics on the other sticky notes. If you are a very creative person and not too organized, just write down subjects on the Post It notes and stick them on the board. Don’t worry about colors or where you put them.
Once you have run out of topics begin organizing the notes into related topic areas on the board. Pick up the sticky notes and move them around. The new groupings become chapters. You can use a different colored Post It Note at the top of each grouping to indicate its general topic area. As you group the Post It Notes, you might get additional ideas. You can add these into the appropriate group or chapter.
You can color code as you go (if you are that organized). Using the example above, you could use yellow for all the reasons why you might want train animals more humanely, blue for all the different ways to train animals humanely and orange for all the topics related to training dogs with treats.
When you are done, each subject grouping becomes a chapter in your blogged book. Each of the sticky notes in the groupings becomes a topic to cover in the chapter. Now type up a table of contents for your book based on the mind map exercise. You don’t necessarily need to give the chapters titles at this point, but you can; you can simply name them by subject area. Under each chapter, list all the topics you will cover in each chapter.
Next starts the hard work: You must find all the related posts you have published for each chapter. That’s how you will piece together a manuscript much like putting together a puzzle. We’ll discuss how to do this next time.
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