For my wife’s birthday, I helped her write a book, without her knowing it. Surprise!
If you want to turn your own blog into a book, here are the steps I took.'For my wife's birthday, I helped her write a book, without her knowing it' Click To Tweet
First, select a self-publishing house. No, wait, first have friends in the publishing biz who can help you.
Actually, first marry a writer with a rich blog archive–years of posts worth making a book out of.
Over a two-month period, in secret and for under 1000 dollars, I turned the best of eight years of blog posts into a hardcover book, with a professionally designed cover, and an ISBN number. This is how I did it.
I chose not to number each step, as some aspects occurred simultaneously.
- Asked a handful of select friends and relatives if this would be a good idea.
- Had an initial discussion about costs and logistics with friends in the publishing industry.
- Decided to go with a custom design rather than an automated design (like leanpub).
- Received estimates from my friends, who conveniently are a copy editor and book designer and happen to be married. First, though, I treated them to lunch. The copy editor wrote a schedule to determine whether the book could be completed by the deadline (my wife’s birthday!).
- Decided which publishing company to use. I looked at Blurb and Ingram Spark. My dad had used both Ingram Spark and Create Space, and he recommended the former. Meanwhile, Ingram Spark is designed for people who want to sell their book through traditional booksellers, while Blurb is not. For those reasons, plus the fact that I didn’t know anyone who had personal experience with Blurb, I went with Ingram Spark.
- Selected blog posts.
- Decided how to organize the stories. I considered grouping them by theme or chronologically. I went with chronological, showing my wife’s journey from single woman to mother.
- Downloaded stories in order using software programs I wrote. I am a software developer. (Note, this will probably not be useful to you if you’re not a software developer.) The software program downloaded the blog posts in a text format known as “markdown.”
- Reviewed and edited content. This included checking spelling, grammar, and removing references to “blog,” “internet,” and “post,” as appropriate.
- Turned markdown into an .rtf file (per the copy editor’s requirement) using a program called pandoc.
- Asked for a foreward from my wife’s friend and colleague, who is also a writer.
- Reviewed copy editor’s work.
- Sent designer five stories that were representative of the book as a whole so he could use them to get ideas for the cover art.
- After receiving four choices for the cover, I found myself overwhelmed, so I asked friends to vote on cover choices via a Google Form.
- Swore friends to secrecy.
- After one cover emerged victorious in a vote, I decided to tweak it a few more times, including photo shopping in a photo of my wife’s bike. (I took the photo and sent it to the designer, who did the photo shopping).
- When the foreward was finished, the copy editor reviewed it, and sent feedback to the author of the foreward for review. She accepted any changes as did I.
- Reviewed the designer’s sample interior design and gave feedback. (You would not believe how many font decisions there are!)
- Asked for cover blurbs from wife’s friends who are writers. Half were able to do it within the proposed timeline, providing me with three blurbs.
- Researched Pros and Cons of ISBN purchase.
- Bought ISBN because of metadata control. In other words, based on my research, this gave me more control over things like genre, keywords, categories, author bios, etc. Note: It turned out Ingram Spark requires an ISBN, so had I decided not to get an ISBN, I would have had to start the process over with a different publisher.
- Added said metadata, including having copy editor review the bios of my wife and the author of the foreword.
- Added credit card number into account information on Ingram Spark, which was a necessary step for completing my profile. At that point, I did not know whether my wife would want to sell the book.
- When blurbs were done, asked copy editor to review them.
- Received PDF of interior. At this point, the text was in illustrator format (versus .rtf), so the designer had to make any changes from this point forward.
- Read every page out loud for final review, grew to hate book. FYI, reading a 266-page book out loud takes five hours. I explained time away from my wife as “need to catch up on work.”
- Sent changes uncovered by final review to interior designer.
- Did a final-final review including…searching for its/it’s mistakes and parentheses mistakes.
- Sent changes from review to interior designer.
- Approved final cover and interior
- Designer uploaded final version of cover, interior and e-book files to Ingram’s print on demand site.
- Ordered a copy from Ingram Spark.
- Loved it.
- Held the book in secret until her birthday and showed the book to a few select folks when I couldn’t contain my excitement.
- Asked my wife several times if she’d like her present early, and was dismayed when she said no.
- Caught my wife’s reaction to her birthday surprise on video.
All in all, this was a fun project. It was extremely helpful to have help from my friends in the publishing industry.
Now my wife has a beautiful hardcover book. And she is doing a reading on Feb 18 at the Boulder Book Store. Come on down and check it out for yourself if you’re in the area. You can buy a copy through her website (I set up a Stripe account so people can pay for it through her site) or through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Creating the book is only half the story, though. My wife has been marketing it since her birthday, and that project deserves a post of its own!
A note from The Wife: Hi, it’s Pam here. I knew Dan had put a ton of work into creating my book, but editing this post for Beyond Your Blog gave me a better appreciation for all the details. This was by far the best birthday gift I could ever hope to receive. Honestly, I think birthdays are kind of ruined from here on out, but I’m not complaining! For more details about the story behind the surprise, click here. Also, yes, I know my husband is amazing and no unfortunately, he doesn’t have any brothers.