Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of people who want to write a book, but they haven’t been able to get started because they can’t figure out what to write about.
Fortunately, as a blogger, you have a big advantage: the community you’ve built around your blog. That may include people who comment on your blog, email you through your blog, or people you know through social media.
In fact, if you’re having trouble deciding on a topic for your book, your community is probably your best source of ideas. Ask your clients, peers, commenters, and friends what their biggest struggles are and you might be surprised at the answers you receive.
People read blogs for the same reason they read books: to be entertained or informed. What blog posts have you written that received the most comments? Which ones had the most spirited and emotional dialogue? Which posts were retweeted or shared on Facebook? What questions do you get?
When you look back over your writing, you’ll see patterns appear. Maybe there’s a topic that comes up on your blog that you get really passionate about, and it seems like your blog posts almost write themselves. Those posts may be a good starting point for a book.
In fact, as you go through your posts and questions you receive via email or social media, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover how much you already have written about the topic, even before you’ve started “officially” writing your book.
If you have a new blog, don’t be discouraged. You might have the type of blog that doesn’t generate a whole lot of comments. That’s okay too. Here are a few other places you can look for ideas:
- Recent emails you have sent. If you’re like most of us, you probably expressed your opinion, helped someone with a problem, or given advice.
- Comments on other people’s blogs (including your own comments), Twitter tweets, Facebook status updates and shares. See if anything pops out at you as particularly interesting. Maybe you have an opposing view on a controversial topic.
- Real life, in-person conversations. When you talk to people, spend a lot of time listening. Pay attention to the questions, concerns, and problems people have. Then start writing down your solutions.
You’ve probably written a lot of material that you could include in a book. No, you won’t be able to use everything, but the writing you’ve already done, whether in blog posts, email, or comments can be a great source of ideas.
Next time in step 2, I’ll talk about how you can take your nascent topic ideas and start building out and organizing them into a preliminary book outline.
Did you miss a step? Here are links to the Blog Your Book series:
- Ask your community about their biggest problems.
- Brainstorm ideas and use a mind map or outline to organize them.
- Research the competition.
- Refine your topic and search for content you can “recycle.”
- Define your book’s unique selling proposition.
- Set aside writing time and establish deadlines.
- Learn about the book business and decide on a publishing path.