Converting Blogs to Books

Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 11/28/2007

What would it take to convert a blog into a book? The simple answer is that a person takes the text that is on the blog, reformats it into a book format and either makes it available as an eBook or sends it off to a printer. I have some experience with that sort of thing, so I decided to look at my website with the idea that I could take the articles that I have written and convert those articles into a book. I did a rough estimate of the number of words and came up with the about 100,000 words on my website. That is enough to produce a book that falls between 300 and 400 pages. The idea was sounding better and better. I could just copy my website into a book and my work would be done.

Then reality set in. As I began to look at the content of the pages on my website I began to realize that a large part of what is there is not the kind of thing that readers want in a book. What works on a website or a blog will not work in a book. With my website, I have avoided a lot of personal information because I know that strangers will donít care about my personal life as much as they care for the information that I can provide. With blogs, there is often a mix of personal and useful information. The personal information helps to build a relationship between the visitor and the blog owner, while the other information will often help to bring the visitor to blog in the first place. Even with business oriented blogs, there is a tendency for the author to talk about some rather personal things, such as surgical procedures and other things. Blogs and websites do not translate into books very well.

The Difficult Method

One way to convert a blog into a book is to filter out everything except for the information that might be considered worthwhile in a book. All of the personal stuff would have to be removed. Announcements about the current activities of the business would need to be removed. All that would be left would be a few ideas.

Many posts would be much too short to include as a chapter in the book. Some posts might have nothing more than a sentence or two that is worth printing in a book. Some posts might make good chapters, but they may not match the topic that most of the other posts cover. A blog post about trimming a catís claws, for example, may be useful information, but it would not fit in a book about parenting. Rather than include everything, the content must be filtered down to only the content that is relevant to the book. Content that will fit but is weak must be expounded upon; giving more detail and more justification for the statement that was made. When visitors have made comments, the author may need to take those into account as he revises the content.

The Easier Method

Rather than going back and revising everything for the book, an easier method is to go into the blog project with the plan to eventually convert it into a book. Each blog post should be given the care that is given a chapter in a book. The selection of the content that is included in the blog should all meet the selection criteria of what will be included in the book. There would be no off-target posts.

The idea here is that the author wants to get the information out as soon as possible and would like to get some feedback from visitors to the site. The blog will have useful information and will build an audience for the information. The feedback will help to refine the information as well as define additional topics that should be covered.

A Different Type of Audience

One of the biggest problems with trying to convert a blog into a book is that blogs have a different audience than books have. A person reading a book is usually looking for information that is somewhat different than is normally found on a blog. On a blog, a person expects to find small bits of information that is helpful. With a book, a person is more likely to plan on reading the whole thing. When a person finds a new blog, he usually doesnít go back and read the previous posts. A person reading a blog is more interested in up to date information while a person reading a book is more interested in quality information. That is not to say that blogs cannot provide quality information, but the date on the material is more important. The permanence of a book makes it different. A book author is unable to go back an change what he has written, but a blogger can write one thing one day and then come back the next and state that he has changed his mind.

A blog is more of a conversation than what a book is. With a book, one person or several people have gone to the trouble of putting together a statement about what they believe to be true. They have thought it through more carefully. With a blog, the person writing may be basing his thoughts on his experience and his expert opinion, but he may not be as certain that it is correct. Portions of what he says may be nothing more than a guess, a very good guess, but a guess all the same.

Is this something we want to do?

Yes, it is possible to convert a blog into a book. If it is done well, a blog can be converted into a very good book, but is that really something that we want to do? There are things that can be done with a blog that cannot be done with a book. At the same time, the nature of a book sets it apart from blogs. Converting blogs may well be a lazy manís approach to creating a book, but is it worth it?