Blogging a Book: Challenges

Photo: Irene Robert Wright, fsp. © Daughters of St. Paul

Photo: Irene R. Wright, fsp © Daughters of St. Paul

Three-day weekends when we can take two days in a row to really relax are rare in convent life. Often Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays are times when we participate in special events or pastoral projects. However, since I’ve been assigned as a writer for digital media at our publishing house in Boston, I’ve had two three-day weekends (July 4th and Labor Day), and both have allowed me to move forward with my newest writing adventure: blogging a book!

With the news just days old that my book has been accepted for publication both as a blog and as a book, I was especially excited to dive in. I want to complete blogging the book within a year. Usually with that kind of a deadline, I’d be worried about finding the time to write it. But this time I face other challenges:

  • Keeping to the overall length. Initially I proposed that the book be about 52,000 words. (About 1,000 words a week, give or take!) But I’ve been asked to keep it to 40,000 words. I’m not sure how to do that and still cover most of the approved table of contents in sufficient breadth and depth.
  • Writing about spiritual topics in byte-size posts. The publishing team also told me that short entries are better, even in print form. I imagined 250-500 words an entry; they are recommending closer to 250 words. How do I deal with spiritual topics in only 250 words? And when I revise the blog into a book, do I really want to keep each blog post separate? The “experts” recommend weaving it together, but the publishing team is recommending keeping the book in “byte size” chunks.
  • Engaging readers so that the blog is truly interactive. This is by far the most exciting part of blogging my book. To do it, the blog needs lots of readers–readers who are really engaged and who comment, share, etc. I have lots of ideas for how to make the blog engaging, but I have no clue which ideas will work. I suspect that marketing the blog and making it truly interactive will be harder than writing the book. But it will be amazingly fun if I can connect with readers as I’m writing the book, and allow them to shape the content. For me, this seems the ideal way to communicate Christ–not a one-way communication, but a true dialogue so that the readers actually become co-creators of the book, and so that what I write about is truly helpful, and really resonates with the readers.

If any readers have successfully blogged a book, or developed a book from a website, or are thinking of doing it, I’d love to hear any questions or advice you’d like to share! (From the number of people reading and following my entries on this topic, I think a lot of the readers would be eager to hear further advice as well.) 

New Writing Adventure: Blogging a Book!

IMG_20140124_115240645Have I mentioned before that I’m hoping to blog a new book starting this fall? This is something I’ve been growing increasingly curious about doing, even though I suspect that I’ll eventually be able to traditionally publish it. I’m still figuring out the advantages, the disadvantages, and how I can make it work for me and for the readers.

Why on earth would I do this?

1) It’s something new and I love the challenge of exploring it and seeing how it works

2) It “fits” with my new role of writing for our Pauline digital department, especially the challenge of learning to write “short form,” but it also fits with my love of writing long form

 3) It’s a way of reaching out to and building an audience that I might not have been able to reach in the past. Especially since some of the target audience is young adults, and I don’t know whether they’d be able to find my book without a strong online presence.

4) The interactive possibilities–I’m hoping the blog can be interactive, with comments and insights from readers that offers additional enrichment–and helps me to stay in touch with the needs of the readers

* * *

How-to-Blog-a-Book-Cover-WEBTo begin preparing, back in January I started reading Nina Amir’s extraordinarily helpful blog, How To Blog a Book, which I found out about because Nina was featured on the Writer’s Digest website. Next, I borrowed her book from the library (as you can see, this is a very low-budget operation!), and not only read it cover to cover, but took extensive notes.

Next came brainstorming all the content I’ve developed on this topic over the years, trying to figure out a title and unique approach to the topic, and coming up with a very rough table of contents so that I could see how it might be possible to  break down the content into small, “bloggable” chunks.

This took me into mid February, when I had to put the project aside, due to other projects that became more than full-time.

But using the July 4th weekend, I was able to take a little time to explore this new project, and I’m now testing out the title and topics with potential readers. Next? To write a proposal for the publisher and come up with a real Table of Contents.

This has not been my usual route to develop a new book. If you have blogged a book or are planning to do so, I’d be delighted to hear your suggestions and advice.