I met Rachel Thompson not long after the release of her second book. She was teaching classes on how to go blog-to-book on Triberr.com. Since then, she’s written and published a third successful book. Although she hasn’t blogged a book, she knows how to book a blog and how to successfully self-publish a book. As a social media expert, she also knows how to promote a blog and a book.
Rachel is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Her first book A Walk In The Snark hit #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list in September, 2011. It’s since become a chart mainstay.
She released The Mancode: Exposed right after Thanksgiving 2011 and by January it placed in the Amazon Top 100 in the paid category.
Her third book, Broken Pieces, is completely different in tone. While still non-fiction, it’s not humor at all. She released it Christmas 2012, and it reached #1 on Women’s Studies and Gender Studies within two weeks and garnered almost 55 four and five-star reviews in less than eight weeks (none paid, a service she neither supports nor advocates). In March 2013, The Midwest Book Review gave Broken Pieces five stars, as did two Top 10 Hall of Fame Amazon reviewers. Summer 2013, Broken Pieces won best nonfiction honorable mention from the San Francisco Book Festival, best nonfiction and women’s studies from the Global eBook Awards and eFestival of books among other awards. In Winter 2013 Broken Pieces hit #1 on Amazon’s Women’s Poetry list and continues to rank highly in other Amazon categories. In 2013, Broken Pieces was released for the first time in print by Booktrope.
Rachel founded BadRedheadMedia where she works with authors; teaching social media, branding, and marketing (skills acquired through fifteen years of successful, award-winning pharma marketing and sales).
I think you’ll find Rachel’s interview interesting and educational.
What process did you use to find or choose the blog posts that went into your book?
For my first book, A Walk In The Snark, I created the book from posts (that I edited completely) and thirty to forty percent new original material not seen on the blog before. I worked off a Word document.
I went through each post individually to determine if it fell into the structure I had created with my editor. If it hit on a main theme, I used it. Takes longer than searching via tags or categories, but since at the time I wrote A Walk In The Snark I was on Blogger, it made sense for me. I wanted to be thorough and not miss anything.
How did you then organize the posts, or did you keep the flow that you originally constructed?
I totally changed the format, based on the structure my editor and I created for the book. We created a theme (Men vs. Women) and then divided them further with regard to topic (relationships, parenting, work, etc.).
What percentage of your book ended up repurposed posts as opposed to new content?
As I stated above, about sixty to seventy percent was originally on my blog RachelintheOC.com; I then wrote new material to fit the structure we created.
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.?
I did add transitions (which most folks seem to hate in SNARK! So I later revised.); I deleted things like headings and bullets so the posts read like essays; and yes, I definitely had to revise with regard to removing timing so the essays weren’t dated.
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?
I believe we should all follow our own vision. That said, I had over twenty betareaders so if there was something glaring, I took it out or revised. Same with my second book Mancode: Exposed. While it is all original material, I still ran it by both my critique group and betareaders to ensure the content was on point.
I didn’t include blog comments, as I wanted it to be seen as a book, not a blog. The blurbs came from established authors who also beta read for me.
How did booking your blog make you a better writer? Explain in what way.
I’ve been writing since age ten – all kinds of things: nonfiction, fiction, poetry. I found that creating a book from my nonfiction posts required focused effort to make it read more like a book. I learned the process of editing: creating structure to my work. I also identified where I needed to improve as a writer – creating action and movement, for example.
Did booking your blog make you a better blogger (and how)?
I believe so because by removing all the posts to create the book, I had to look closely at my content creation, tone, and how I interacted with readers, all good skills for any writer.
What advice would you offer to aspiring writers who might want to turn their blogs into books or blog a book?
Create an editorial calendar so you’re not searching for topics to blog about! Once you know your focus, write three or four posts at once so you have a month’s worth (I post once or twice weekly). Even start inviting guest bloggers (always good to promote other authors!), which gives you a bit of a break when in the editing process.
Do you have any tips you can offer on blogging books or booking blogs?
Tons! Triberr is a great app that helps you increase your reach and frequency via your blog and Twitter. Always reply to comments and follow your readers back. They are potential buyers of your book and word-of-mouth makers. Use your keywords across your entire platform.
What one thing did you do that increased your traffic or brought in more unique visitors?
Having a thriving social media platform is critical. Too many writers wait until they release the book to start getting serious about Twitter, Facebook, etc. I spent a good six months (the months I was putting the book together) to start targeting readers and creating a dedicated fan base. Pre-release activities can be as important, if not more so, than release.
I also recommend using WordPress.org (which is self-hosted). You own your own domain, can use plug-ins to do much of the work for you, and it helps increase your SEO and SMO digital footprint – all important when you release the book!
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?
When I wrote my first Mancode blog post, it was a HIT! (It’s in A Walk In The Snark, titled “Men are from Seinfeld, Women are from Friends”) and people loved my humor and started following me. I created branding around the Mancode with regard to all my social media and it just grew from there. I also actively follow back my readers and interact with them. Interaction and engagement will always take you farther than a one-way broadcast model.
You are self-published. Why did you decide to go the indie route?
I have many friends who are still waiting while their agent shops their book around. I now have three books out. While I have been contacted by a few agents (who found me on Twitter – yes, it happens!), I’ve stayed true to maintaining control over my work, which is important to me. The bias that exists against self-publishing is too general; not all self-published books are poorly made. I ran everything by a critique group of writers I respect; used a professional editor for content and structure; a proofreader; a formatter; and a graphic artist.
A good self-published book will do well. A bad one won’t. It’s not that difficult.
[Note: Rachel uses Booktrope.com to help her self-publish. Check out this cool service.)
What’s the most important thing a blogger can do to get noticed in the blogosphere and build an author platform or fan base?
As a social media consultant, I hear this all day, every day. My advice is to build your following in an organic, authentic way – follow people who are interested in your genre or topic. Be polite. Create a brand – focused keywords that you design your entire platform around (i.e., people know me as the Queen of Snark – not self-proclaimed by the way!), which helps people to understand exactly what content you provide.
About the Author
Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedheadMedia, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
For more information, visit rachelintheoc.com.