Imagine this scenario: You decide to monetize your knowledge and create an online course. You produce the videos, documentation and membership access. In addition to explaining the benefits of the course, your sales page features a picture of you and bio explaining that you are an authority on this particular topic. You mention that you speak, teach workshops and classes and write articles for publications on this subject. You also have a blog and a podcast. But there’s one thing missing from your bio. You haven’t written a book on the topic.
Your course sells pretty well, but you keep wondering if it would sell better if you were the author of a book. After all, a nonfiction book always lends weight to a person’s professional credentials. Plus, you’d like to write a book, but you don’t know where to start.
Start with the Course
Does this scenario looks familiar to you? If so, you need look no further than that online course sitting on your computer screen for your starting point!
As mentioned in part one of this post, which you can read here, creating courses forces you to think about content in a different manner than you might if you were simply writing a book. For this reason, you’ve created your online course with a unique educational timeline. It proceeds step by step through the different tasks students need to learn to achieve certain results. You’ve made sure they learn each step in the right progression. A good prescriptive or self-help nonfiction book does exactly the same thing. It takes readers through a learning process, one chapter at a time, until they have the knowledge they need to reach their goal. It teaches them what they need to know.
If you use your course as the foundation of your book, you’ll find the majority of your content in each segment, or module, you created. You may need to flesh out some of the material—or not. This simply depends upon how long your book needs to be to teach what you want to teach, or if you want to add more material than what you included in our course.
Write a Book from a Course
Here are the 4 steps you need to take to turn your course into a book:
- If your course has a table of contents describing each module, use this as the table of contents for your book. Each module becomes a chapter. The chapters, therefore, will naturally follow the same timeline as your course.
- Determine if you want to add any content that you didn’t include in your course. This is important if you want a book that offers more advanced information than the course, or if you want to flesh out certain ideas. If so, add this to your table of contents. Be sure to place it in the appropriate position (place on the timeline) in the learning sequence. Add a list of subtopics you will cover in that chapter. You can write the subtopics as subheadings.
- Look at the content in each module of your course. What are the smaller lessons people must learn to move on in the course or that readers must understand before they can progress through the book? Break the module down into smaller chunks or tasks you will cover in the chapter. Each one of these becomes a chapter subheading. Add these subheadings or topics under the name of each chapter.
- Write your book based on the outline you’ve created in step 1 through 3 (Chapter title plus list of subheads or topics). In other words, produce content that explain each module, including each task or smaller step of the process. Trick: Consider having the audio of your videos transcribed. You can then edit this into a manuscript.
Blog a Book from a Course
Consider blogging a book based on your online course. The reason to choose this option is simple: You market your course and build author platform as your write. If you want to go course to blogged book, rather than course straight to manuscript, you’ll need to take a few additional steps, though.
In the former case, that means you make money as you write your book. You could earn the equivalent of your whole advance, should you choose to self-publish your book. Given that most advances for first-time authors at small to mid-sized publishing houses range between $5-10,000, if your product sells for $299 and you make 30 sales, your income will fall in that range ($8,970).
In the latter case, if you want to traditionally publish, the extra sales generated as you blog your book can be seen as a successful test marketing of your idea. Sales equal interest from your market. Plus, if the course sells well, it helps you build a mailing list. A large mailing list will impress a traditional publisher and help you land a book deal. That large list also will help you sell an indie book, should you choose to self-publish.
To go course to blogged book, follow steps 1-3 above. When you get to step 4:
- Turn all the small sections of your chapters—the small steps that make up the modules of your course—into blog posts. See the outline you produced as many blog posts.
- Create a blogging plan that includes leaving 15-20 percent of the book off the blog as an enticement to book buyers and publishers. The plan should also include publishing frequency.
- Each day you are scheduled to publish, write one post—one small step in the process—and publish it. This means you will publish one post at a time in sequential order, thus allowing your blog readers to follow along in the educational process. The posts must follow the same educational timeline as the course and the book. Write these one by one and publish them in small bits—blog posts—consistently and frequently (2-3 times per week).
- Always provide a link to your course in the blog post. This could be with a logo and invitation to “click here” to learn more and register at the end of each post, or with a reference to the course and a hyperlink in the post text itself. This markets the course while you blog your book.
Sell More Product
Don’t worry that no one will buy the book if they already took they course or if they have the option to take the course instead. Ensure books sales no matter what by writing the book so it either:
- offers only the basics
- offers advanced information
If you offer only the basics in your book and your course has more advanced information, readers will buy your course to learn more. If your course provides basic-level information and the book offers more advanced knowledge, students will purchase the book to advance their learning beyond the course.
And don’t worry that no one will purchase the book if you’ve blogged it. People purchase blogged books for many reasons.
If you’d like to read another expert’s view on this topic of going book to course or course to book, check out the three-part post my colleague, book designer and self-publishing pro Joel Friedlander, wrote recently, called The Sideways Table of Contents, or the Future of the Expert Author. He’s done an awesome job with the graphics to help you visualize the table of contents.
Learn how to blog a book! Register for my Writer’s Digest University How to Blog a Book course. Limited seats…starts January 9!
Image credit: violin / 123RF Stock Photo