Joel Friedlander on Creating a Successful Booked Blog

Joel Friedlander, author and book designer, posts articles about independent publishing, writing, book design, and book marketing on his blog, The blog was founded in November 2009 and currently has over 840 articles on these subjects. His book, A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish, uses the same branding as the blog.

Joel coined the term “booked blog” when he decided to produce a book using existing content on his blog. I remember when he first started blogging about his booked blog process. And when he published A Self-Publisher’s Companion, I not only reviewed it, I asked him four questions about his decision to book his blog and how others could do so successfully. About 90 percent of the content in his book came from repurposed blog posts; about 5 percent of his blog content is represented in the book.

Joel’s blog continues to prove very successful–as does his book and his business. He’s a great example of what can be accomplished with a blog and a book–or a booked blog. Plus, he has a wealth of information on publishing. Here’s what he had to say about creating a successful booked blog.

What process did you use to find or choose the blog posts that went into your booked blog? And out of how many posts did you have to choose?

I started out with a theme in mind and went through my archive of articles which, at that time, totaled about 400 blog posts. I use a WordPress plugin that generates pages of article links created from blog post titles, which made the selection process much faster. I selected about 50 articles that matched the themes I wanted to address in the book and, after editing, used about 35 or 40 of them in the final book.

The plugin I had been using was rendered obsolete by subsequent versions of WordPress, and I don’t think it’s been updated. I later had a blog technician set up pages for each category, which is what you now see on the “Articles” tab on my blog.

How did you then organize the posts into a book, or did you keep the flow that you originally constructed? 

The articles were organized into thematic sections that each deal with a different aspect of my subjects. Within each section the articles were sequenced to flow easily from one to the next.

What kind of editing did you need to do to make the blog posts work in a book? Did you need to add transitions, revise for flow from one post to the next, rewrite because of the different timeline, etc.?

Content was edited for flow but not to provide transitions from one article to the next, since the blog posts remain in their original form in the book. However, temporal references, blog-specific references and calls to action were all eliminated or re-written. The second kind of editing that was done on the book was to extensively re-format the blog articles to eliminate a lot of the bold and other stylized type treatments used in blog articles to make them attractive and scannable for blog readers and bring the book more in line with standard book typography.

Did you take your readers input (comments) into account before the manuscript went to press. How did comments affect the final version of the book?

In a few cases comments from the original blog article were incorporated into the articles.

How did blogging a book or booking your blog make you a better writer?

I learned a lot about the differences between writing a blog and writing work intended to be included in a book, and this has influenced how I plan my blog posts. I now try to plan my content with an eye toward future book projects, and I write with the intention of repurposing my content on a permanent, ongoing basis.

Did booking your blog or blogging your book make you a better blogger (and how)?

I now plan my content to be used both on the blog and in future books. This has made me write more series of connected blog posts rather than “one-off” articles. There’s a lot more intention behind my content planning than before I created the book.

What advice would you offer to aspiring writers who might want to turn their blogs into books or blog a book?

Create an outline for the book first, then plan your blog posts to fill out the outline, adding headlines, formatting, and calls to action that you’ll take out later when the content takes its place in your book manuscript.

Do you have any tips you can offer on blogging books or booking blogs?

You don’t want to end up with a book that’s choppy or doesn’t flow, so having an overview of the book before you get started will help. When moving from blog to book, adjust the formatting of your manuscript to conform to standard book design practices. Be generous, and remember that material printed in a book will be held to a higher standard of accuracy than your daily blog post.

What one thing did you do that increased your traffic or brought in more unique visitors?

Posted an article every day.

How long did it take for you to gain blog readers and can you pin point any certain event that created a tipping point when readership increased noticeably?

It took six months to a year to get significant readership, posting six times a week. Don’t swing for the fences, concentrate on building relationships with your readers, networking with other bloggers in your niche, writing articles for newcomers to your field, and building backlinks over time.

Why did you decide to go the indie route?

Because I am an advocate for self-publishing with over 25 years’ experience in the field.

What’s the most important thing a blogger can do to get noticed in the blogosphere and build an author platform or fan base?

Write useful, evergreen content for newcomers to your field, and market every article you write by networking with your peers.

 About the Author

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer, a blogger, and the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 and writes, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. Joel is also the founder of the online training course, The Self-Publishing Roadmap.


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