If you’ve been following my new “just links” blog, you know that I’m using some of my old blog articles as the starting points for books.
Yes, some of this comes from my growing ambivalence about how I share information, online, especially in social media. Also, Jaron Lanier’s TED talk had a big impact on me.
I was so impressed by that, I went back & re-read Kill Your Blog, by Buck Flogging (aka Matt Stone).
- Yes, that book has a terrible cover, and yes, his pen name is kind of clever but – when you switch the B & F – it’s more than a little vulgar. So is some of how he talks in this and other books. (So far, I don’t recommend the latter.)
- Yes, his KDP numbers aren’t red-hot. In fact, they’re kind of horrible, as “Buck Flogging” and as Matt Stone.
Despite that, I think he makes some excellent points in Kill Your Blog. If you’re serious about turning your blog articles into books, it’s probably worth the $3.99 (or whatever it’s selling for, now).
Putting This Idea to Work
A couple of my blogs include 500+ articles, each. So, I’m turning some of them into book series. I’ll break each site’s articles into bunches that total around 10k to 20k words. Most of these will be “Best of ____” books, with a subtitle identifying the focus.
If you like this idea, I recommend reading the great how-to article, From Blog to Book, at SmartBlogger.com.
But now I’m faced with the mechanics of this process: First, getting my blog posts organized by topics. (I’m starting with WordPress blogs, not HTML sites.)
Then, copying & pasting the selected blog posts into Scrivener or a word processing program.
(Initially, I thought I’d just publish my blogs as printed books, through CreateSpace. For me, that means using a word processing program. Because: I’m a control freak when it comes to formatting, and I don’t yet have Vellum. Or a Mac.)
Is This Legal? Answer: Yes
I’ve heard mixed opinions about whether blogs can become Kindle books. (Years ago, it looks like Amazon actually encouraged it.)
Also, at their Content Guidelines page, Amazon said, “We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content.” (emphasis added)
So, this morning, I wrote to Amazon’s customer support for clarification.
Here was Amazon’s reply (in less than an hour):
You can publish your blog as long as you hold the copyrights. There are no restrictions on it.
Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website, found here:
Content that is in violation of these guidelines will not be offered for sale.
Thanks for your interest in Amazon KDP.
Converting Your Blog to a Book
Anyway, copying all those blog posts could be tedious.
I’ve looked at several approaches.
The first were BookWright, Blurb, and blog2print, and similar companies. Generally, you have to publish your book on their platform. That might be fine for some personal projects, but not for what I have in mind.
Then I tried BlogBooker. (Some instructions are at Edublogs.) It didn’t work for my site with about 150 articles. I got an error message. But, my computer or browser may have been the issue. It’s kind of old, and running Windows 7. So, BlogBooker might work for you.
You might be able to use a simple PDF plugin… maybe. The problem is the lack of control. I want to publish a 6″ x 9″ trade paperback, and plugins don’t give me many options. Here’s a pretty good article (at wpmudev) that lists several free plugins you can use.
However, I use Print Friendly as a browser plugin, to print and save PDFs of articles I’ll refer to, later. The ads are annoying at times, but the plugin usually works perfectly.
I’ve had the best luck with a free WP plugin, Anthologize. It’s kind of clunky, and I don’t recommend it for books that will include more than, say, 30 of your articles.
However, if you have more patience (or perhaps a better computer) than I do, the free version of Pressbooks might be worth trying. It’s open source. People have created lots of free, really attractive templates for your final/printed book, too. But, for some reason, it didn’t play well with my exported blog files. (Yes, I need to spend more time figuring it out.)
Also, there is a paid Pressbooks option. I used that when it was still free, and it did a very good job.
The Clunky, Manual Approach
Because I’m rushing to get one blog – a small-ish one with about 150 articles – into a book, I’m manually copying-and-pasting from the website.
Here’s my process:
- Use my website’s Sitemap to copy a list of all the article titles. Then, alphabetize the list so it’s easy to correlate with the actual website.
- Decide the main topics. In other words, how I’ll organize the book’s articles, so they flow logically, from one to the next.
- Use a printed list (and, in my case, highlighter pens) to indicate which article (on the alphabetical list) belongs in which chapter.
- Set up Scrivener (or OpenOffice or Word or something similar) with those headings and article/chapters.
- Go to the website, and cut-and-paste the articles into my manuscript.
- Edit the book, removing all hyperlinks (at least for the printed book).
You may think of a better system. For now, this is working for me. It’s a little clunkier than I’d like, but I’m rushing through this project.
If you have a large blog or two, consider turning it into a book. I hope my insights are helpful. (Yes, I’ll update this article as I learn more about the fastest & most elegant ways to turn blogs into books.)
If you have suggestions or questions, be sure to ask me in comments.