You can start with us. This guide will show you exactly how to turn your WordPress blog to book, from choosing the right topic and articles for your book, all the way to publication.
The path from WordPress blog to book
The transformation from WordPress blog to book can require some work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated if you follow the right steps. Here’s everything from a bird’s-eye-view. We’ll get to the specifics later on in this guide:
1. Choose your topic – to read like a book, your articles must be tied together by a common theme.
2. Choose your articles – you don’t want to publish every article on your blog as a book. You want to publish your best articles, the ones that continue drawing an audience long after their publication.
3. Compile your articles into a book – your articles must be organized so they flow like a book, building on each other to achieve a primary goal.
4. Add and/or update content – new content makes your book a more comprehensive resource, and ensures that long time blog readers will still find the book valuable.
5. Edit the book – at this point you want to edit for grammar, style consistency, and clarity. You also want to remove hyperlinks and references to the blog.
6. Hire an editor – (optionally); self editing can give you good-enough results, but for true professional quality you’ll want to work with a professional editor.
7. Get a book cover – a high quality cover created by a graphic designer will help your book stand apart from the crowd of self-published work.
8. Format your book – in some ways, this is the most important part of turning your WordPress blog to book; it’s what makes your book readable as an ebook, a print book, or both.
9. Publish your book – once your book is formatted, it’s ready for sale! Upload it to your site as a freebie or put it up for sale on Amazon (or/and alternative platforms for more impact).
Choosing the right articles for your book
You could just transplant all of your articles into a Word document, format them as an ebook, and release that into the world, but it won’t read like a proper book.
Many bloggers do this by turning a challenge they hosted into a book, like Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (now adapted into a course).
Just in case you’re curious, here are all the individual blog posts that make up that book.
How to choose a topic
Many bloggers simply use the same topic for their book that they used for their entire blog, but I encourage you to get more specific.
If you narrow in on a smaller topic, you can repeat this process and use your blog to create multiple books. This can boost your reputation as an authority in your field, and increase the income you earn from being an author.
That said, your overarching topic still needs to be interesting enough to merit an entire book. Something that will hold both your interest during the creation process, and your audience’s interest during the reading process.
To ensure that your topic fits both of these requirements, choose something you’ve already written at least 10-12 successful articles about. This will minimize the amount of new content you need to create for your project to be book length.
How to select articles
What qualifies as a book-worthy blog post? There are a few indicators:
- Traffic over time – some of your articles can be recent ones, but you want every article to be evergreen.
- Number of comments – a high number of comments shows that your audience is actively interested in a topic.
- Shares on social media – again, this shows that people are interested enough to do more than read a blog post; they want to share this information and discuss it, and they might even be interested in books on the subject.
- Quality and length – every section of your book needs to be high quality, and together your articles need to create enough content to actually be considered a book. There is a lot of flexibility with the length of ebooks, but most people won’t consider anything under 15,000 words a book. Focusing on longer, more detailed articles will make it easier to hit that word count without creating an enormous amount of new content.
- Continuity – each article will become a chapter or section of your book, but they all need to lead to one coherent objective.
- Format – just because it does well on a blog doesn’t mean it will work in a book. Articles that rely on video content or a high concentration of links won’t work in a book. Images work well in books, but they can complicate formatting and be expensive to print. Stick with articles that convey their information mostly or entirely through text.
The exact numbers you’re looking for will vary based on the size of your audience, but you want to choose articles that have earned above-average engagement. Those are the ideas that are already resonating with your audience. Packaged into a book, those ideas can draw in a new audience altogether.
Compiling your WordPress blog into a book
So you’ve chosen your topic and selected your 10+ best articles about it. Now it’s time to compile those articles into an actual book. You can do this in a couple different ways:
- Microsoft Word / Open Office / etc. – If you’re comfortable working in Microsoft Word (or another word processor) you can copy & paste articles directly from your blog into a Word document. To keep your formatting in place, make sure you copy & paste from either the public page the article is posted on OR the WordPress visual editor.
- Blurb – Blurb is a self publishing company that offers a formatting software called BookWright. Their “Site Import” feature makes it easy to pull articles from your WordPress blog and compile them into a book. BookWright also provides full print-ready formatting for when you’re ready to publish.
Once your articles are imported, it’s time to transform them into book form. There are three steps to editing your collection of articles to form a proper book:
1. Choose an order
The first step to turning your chosen articles into a book is decide the order they will go in. As a general rule, you want to start with the most basic information, then graduate to more complicated topics. Each new article should build on the previous one.
2. Organize the articles into chapters
You can do this step after you’ve chosen an order for your articles, or you can do it at the same time. You can also do it in two different ways:
- Every article as a chapter – if your articles are in-depth pieces that explore every aspect of a topic, they can stand on their own as chapters.
- Multiple articles per chapter – if you tend to write short articles exploring specific angles/aspects of a topic, you’ll probably want to combine two or more articles to create each chapter.
The most important thing is that each chapter must expand on the one before it. They need to follow each other logically, in a way that will make sense to readers.
3. Take note of any knowledge gaps
Your book should be a comprehensive resource, in a way that a single blog post or even a series of blog posts can’t. Look out for places where you’ve missed useful information, or where you can explain things in more detail. Jot these down for future reference.
4. Add new content
Adding new content to your book will increase its value, and you’ve already got some great ideas: the list of knowledge gaps you created in step three. Your new content should aim to fill in those gaps. If your existing book is a little short, you may also want to brainstorm other relevant content ideas.
How much content you add is entirely up to you, but I recommend adding at least 3,000-5,000 new words, so long term blog readers can still get value from your book.
That said, you don’t technically have to add anything to turn your WordPress blog to book. Chuck Wendig’s book, 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer, is actually just a compilation of his 25 Things You Should Know blog posts. These are the most informative articles of anything he publishes on the blog, and they’re popular enough that he’s been able to turn them into an entire successful series.
However, as a long term fan of the Terribleminds blog, I was disappointed when I finally purchased some of the 500 Ways series and realized I had already read all of the content. If you take the same route, be aware that you risk alienating some of your long term readers.
Sorting your articles into chapters and giving them a proper order is the most time-consuming part of turning your WordPress blog to book, but there are several other edits you’ll need to make for your work to really read like a book:
- Remove references to chapters being blog posts/articles – look for places where you say things like “in this blog post”. Remove them or change them to say “in this chapter” or “in this section of the book”.
- Tie chapters together – weave references to other chapters, and the overall goal of the book, into each section.
- Strengthen the beginning and conclusion of each chapter – blogs have a conversational tone, and often this is most apparent at the beginning and the end of articles, where you do things like mention other articles and ask for comments. Connect these pieces to other parts of the book, and replace calls to action that rely on the blog format with activities your readers can connect to the book instead.
- Replace links with references – this is a crucial change to make when turning your WordPress blog to book. Loading an ebook down with hyperlinks looks unprofessional, and they flat out won’t work in print. You can still reference online resources, but links should be moved to footnotes, or compiled at the end of each chapter. Here’s an example of what that looks like:
- Edit for quality and consistency – you want to make sure that every section of your book is the highest quality content that you can produce right now. This is particularly important if you’re working with articles from over a year ago, as your writing may have grown significantly in that amount of time.
You might also want to hire a professional editor, but it’s important to do these edits on your own first. This will make it easier for your editor to focus on making the book as good as it possibly can be, rather than simply making it into a book. It will also save your editor time, and potentially save you money.
The publishing process
Now that you’ve compiled your book, it’s time to start the actual publishing phase of the “WordPress blog to book” process. You’ll want to do at least three of these four things: hire a professional editor, create or commission a book cover, format the book for publication, and make it available to the public.
There are three types of professional editing: developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading.
- Developmental editing focuses on the book as a whole, helping you clarify your points and organize your book in the most effective way.
- Copyediting focuses on grammar, spelling, and consistency in formatting and style.
- Proofreading focuses purely on grammar and spelling.
So what type of editing do you need?
If this is your first time publishing a book, I strongly suggest hiring professionals for all three types of editing. You can replace a developmental editor with several beta readers – readers who will provide feedback on your book for free – but working with a real, professional editor will teach you an enormous amount about writing.
How much will editing cost?
Editing might be the biggest expense of turning your WordPress blog to book, but the amount you’ll spend will vary depending on the length of your book, the type(s) of editing you pay for, and the professional(s) you choose.
You can make a book cover yourself with Photoshop or even Canva, but let’s be honest: people judge books by their covers. You’ve already put an enormous amount of work into turning your WordPress blog to book, and you want to give it the best chance possible. So unless you’re already a skilled graphic designer, you want to pay for a book cover.
How much will a book cover cost?
Again, this will vary wildly. Sites like Go On Write offer both pre-made covers and affordable commissions. You can also find cover designers on sites like the aforementioned Fiverr.
For most design tasks, you can also check out sites like 99designs. It’s an “online marketplace meets auction” kind of place for design projects. Check it out.
Formatting the book for publication
This is the final step in turning your WordPress blog to book, transforming it from a raw file into something people will enjoy reading.
Formatting a book is quite different from blog design, but you can learn to do it yourself. There are several programs devoted entirely to helping authors self publish their first book. If you already used BookWright to import your site, you can use the same program to format your book for publication…
For more complicated book designs (designs that use a lot of graphics), you may want to invest in a program like Vellum. You can start with Vellum by reading this formatting tutorial from Joanna Penn. The only drawback of Vellum is that it is currently only available for Mac.
Don’t want to do it yourself? Luckily professional formatting is relatively inexpensive. Some cover designers also offer discounted packages with formatting options, so unless you actively want to learn, this is something you’ll want to outsource.
How much will formatting cost?
You can usually expect to spend between $50 and $200 on formatting. The exact cost of formatting will depend on three factors:
- Images – Images make formatting more complicated, so it will also become more expensive.
- The formats – Getting your book formatted for both print and ebook will cost more than just doing an ebook version.
- The professional – Most freelance book designers offer flat rates. Some may charge extra for a longer book.
Publishing your book
With your book formatted, it’s time for publication! If you’re planning to make it a newsletter freebie, all you need to do is upload it into your newsletter service and attach it to your autoresponder.
If you want to sell your book to the world, the easiest way is to upload it to Amazon (here’s how). Your book can then be sold all over the world within a couple of days. Amazon will even give you an ISBN number if you don’t have one. That said, if you use an Amazon ISBN you will only be able to sell on Amazon.
If you purchase your own ISBN number(s), you can sell on Kobo, the iBooks store, and the Google Play bookstore. The easiest way to do this is to use a service like Draft2Digital to streamline getting your books into all of these and other online retailers.
Marketing your book
Your book will add credibility to your existing work, but for it to attract a new audience, it needs a separate marketing plan. This marketing plan should be tailored to the content of your book, your target audience’s needs, and what you actually enjoy doing.
Here are a few things worth trying:
- Continue promoting your blog – Just like your book is a great marketing tool for your blog, your blog is a great marketing tool for your book. Make sure there are prominent links to your book in your menus, and consider adding a bio with a link to your book to the end of each post. At book launch time, post articles related to your book.
- Visit other blogs – Guest posts and interviews are great ways to introduce yourself to another blogger’s audience. Interviews are particularly great, because they position you as an expert in the spotlight. You can also increase your authority and web presence by hosting interviews on your own blog.
- Commit to social media marketing – Your book needs to be incorporated into your overall social media strategy, and you should also have a separate strategy for your book launch.
- Launch parties – Launch parties can be live events at bookstores or libraries, or online events streamed through YouTube or Facebook Live.
- Public speaking events – Public speaking events are a great way to introduce yourself and your ideas to new people, give yourself even more credibility, and potentially even get paid.
- Teaching – Teach the lessons from your book as an actual course, either online or offline.
- Advertising – Paid advertising on Facebook and Amazon can bring in thousands of new readers every month. To maximize your advertising dollars, take the Advertising for Authors course offered by Mark Dawson. You may also want to check out our transparency reports, which share the results of many of our advertising experiments.
Publishing a book is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert and earn a secondary income. Many of the world’s most famous bloggers, from Darren Rowse of Problogger to Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project, are authors. Turning your WordPress blog to book doesn’t guarantee that you’ll achieve their level of success, but it does put you on the right path.
Is turning your WordPress blog to book something that’s on your agenda in the near future?
Layout and presentation by Karol K.