When his talk was over, the questions were answered, and so many copies of 10 Ways to Make It Great!were sold and signed, Phil Gerbyshak and I left the elegant Chase Tower, Chicago, for a restaurant. Through the course of the afternoon we dreamed up a service for bloggers and speakers, who wanted to put their hard-written content to work. It was a cool idea that fit my skill set. It got named Bookcraft 2.0 — a way to repurpose existing content into a book the way a publisher would.
Here is what you should know about this series/case study, Bookcraft 2.0, going in:
1. This series is crafted so that you can look over my shoulder as we repurpose content into a printed book. We’ll discuss every step in the evolution from pile of blog posts to finished book.
2. Phil’s Archives will be the content.
3. I’ll identify approrpiate content that Phil approves, and we’ll make a book.
4. I’ll write a series about each step so that everyone can watch what we do. This, of course, is the first entry in the series.
5. The series centers on making a print book from existing content. A print version easily can be offered as an ebook. The reverse can be significantly harder.
6. I might forget to name or detail some decisions. If you have questions, please ask. I’m happy to explain what I do or how I do something.
Now let’s check Phil’s archives for book ideas. Think we can find one? two? three?
Checking Phil’s Archives
Bookcraft 2.0 began this week, and I’m delighted to report it’s progressing as expected. Here’s what has happened so far.
1. I took a big picture look at Phil’s categories. My goal was to mentally grasp what might go together, keeping in mind that Phil’s definition of category names might be quite different from my own. I played with categories that might go together on paper and in my head. It was like predicting what will happen before you read the next chapter of a book.
2. I read every post in three categories. The three I chose were three that might relate to each other. Reading them gave me a sense of how much content was original content. Link posts and posts that heavily quote another blogger don’t convert well. Unless they have a strong section of standalone, value-added text that is truly outstanding, they are best left alone. Reading three sets of posts also gave me an idea of exactly how tightly or loosely Phil defines his categories.
3. I read every post in September and August, printing out posts with strong, original, content page by page as I read. Now I had the informational crossbars of an array — three categories crossed by two months. Some posts I read twice — by category and month. I was beginning get a feel for depth and breadth.
4. The patterns were beginning to show. I started to extrapolate. I had notes about what was emerging. I gave the notes “working” book titles.
5. By the end of the August archives, I was on the phone checking what I thought I saw with Phil. He confirmed that we’d have enough content for the two books I identified and that he wanted to pursue them.
6. I also shared a title for a third book. That book — which had occurred to me during the search — wasn’t covered in his archives, but seemed one appropriate to his content thrust. We decided we’d write that one together. We discussed first steps in getting that book started. But writing a book from scratch is another series altogether.
I’m going back into the archives today to pull the rest of the content — to confirm that we have enough content for the first title we want to build. A report on that will be the next post.
Notes on Finding the Idea
I offer these notes so that you’ll get the most from this series.
This first step requires the ability to see beyond what’s there to what could be. It also requires understanding what work it will take to reach that “will be” goal.
A wrong choice in deciding how to put the content together could result in an unfinished book and a great deal of frustration. Take your time and think about your choices from every angle. Set things aside for a day or two and look again. Do that two more times. If you’re not a big picture thinker by nature, get someone to help you. Things will go easier and faster, if this step is done slowly and thoughtfully, with plenty of planning and experience.
A great book, well planned at the beginning, comes together with logic and ease. One without won’t fit right even when a crowbar is applied.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
If you’d like Liz to help you find, or make, a book from your archives, click on the Work with Liz!! page in the sidebar.
Bookcraft 2.0 Archive Mining: How to Get From Working Book Title to Rough Cut Content
Write a Book? Assemble the One in Your Archives!
1: How to Make Sure Real People Read Your Book
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