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Reflections from a Blogger on Writing a Book… about Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of June 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

problogger-book.JPGIt’s been six weeks since the launch of the ProBlogger book and it has been a lot of fun to see people’s reaction to it.

Last week Amazon sold out of it and a 2nd print run took place which was pretty exciting and we’ve begun to hear reports of the books hitting shelves of bookstores outside of the US (it should be available in most countries in the next few weeks).

Two questions that I’ve been asked quite a bit recently about the book have been:

  • How is Writing a Book Different from Writing a Blog?
  • Why Do You Need to Write a Book and a Blog?

Today I’d like to write a few thoughts on each.

How is Writing a Book Different from Writing a Blog?

While there are some similarities between writing a blog and a book they are very different beasts.

Size and an Overwhelming Task – For me the hardest part of tackling a book was simply that a book is a much larger job and at times can be quite overwhelming to write.

While ProBlogger (the blog) has ALOT more content than the book (over 4000 posts compared to 220 pages) bloggers don’t tend to look much further ahead than their next post or two when planning a blog. But from the day you put your book submission into a publisher you are forced to look at it as a completed thing.

Deadlines – most bloggers work to the beat of their own drum. They are their own boss and post what they please when they please. While our editing team at Wiley were supportive all along the way it is a different feeling to know that you have deadlines and people watching over your shoulder to ensure you get the job complete.

Editing – most bloggers (including myself) could probably do with some editing and proof reading – however it’s not always as easy as it might seem to have someone looking at your work with a critical eye. Again – the people we worked with were good at what they did but it can take some adjusting to have someone send what you’ve written back with critique – particularly if you’ve been your own editor for years.

Co-authors – I really enjoyed working with Chris on this project for a number of reasons. For starters it was just nice to have someone else to work with (blogging can be a lonely thing at times) but I think it also enhanced what we could offer. Two people tackling a topic means two perspectives, two skill sets, two sets of experiences and expertise. I think the book is richer and more useful because of the collaboration and considering that Chris and I have never met and that during the whole process only spoke voice to voice once on Skype – I think we did OK!

The Aftermath – one of the most satisfying feelings that I have as a blogger is hitting the ‘publish’ button on a new post. Hitting it fills me with a little relief (that it’s done) mixed with anticipation and a touch of fear ( as to how it will be received).

With a book the moment of finishing it has similar feelings – yet they seem to be amplified. Perhaps it’s the length of time that it takes to write and then get published or perhaps it’s the size of the work – but waiting for reviews and reactions to trickle in is a pretty amazing feeling. It’s also been a great feeling to watch the reviews come in (there are 20 really helpful ones at Amazon).

Why Do You Need to Write a Book and a Blog?

One of the most common questions that I’ve had in interviews about the book is people wanting to know what the point of having both a blog and a book on the same topic is. ‘Can’t people just read the blog?’ and ‘Isn’t it just repeating the same stuff?’ are two different expressions of this question.

The reasons that I always wanted to do ProBlogger as a book are numerous:

Logically Presented – when you write a ‘how to’ type blog one of the frustrations is always to come up with a way of presenting the information in a way that is accessible to new visitors to the site. With 4000 posts in the archives written in a chronological order it can be difficult to come at the topic in a way that guides a new blogger through the process of setting up a blog. Even with categories and pages like Blogging for Beginners I get emails on a daily basis for people struggling to find information in a way that leads them through the process. A book is quite linear in how it is presented – and therefore meets a different need to the blog.

Up to Date – another limitation of a blog is that it is written over a period of time and as a result dates. When I started writing this blog I was a different person, using different technologies, there were different trends and tools etc. I wrote for an audience who had different needs and out of a different context myself. Again this makes it hard for someone digging around in the archives of this blog to work out what is still relevant. A book will also date – but at least all the information in it is currently current.

New Audiences – over the last week I’ve begun to hear from a different kind of reader at ProBlogger – a reader who discovered this blog through the book. Most of the book sales that we’ve had so far have probably been ProBlogger and ChrisG readers finding the book through our blogs – but when you work with a publisher like Wiley and have your book appear in stores like Borders, Barnes and Noble etc – it opens you up to new audiences. Add to this the promotional activity you do with interviews and other publicity and a side benefit of writing the book is to discover new readers for your blog.

Different Mediums Suit Different Learning Styles – I had an email from a reader today that says:

“I have been subscribed to your blog for 8 months now and have always felt like I should be getting more out of it. But today when I read your book (in one sitting) it all ‘clicked’ for me.”

She went on to explain that while the book was written in a similar style to how Chris and I blog that she felt that it was that it was in a book that helped her to ‘get’ what we were saying. Perhaps it was the more familiar medium, perhaps it was that it was presented more linearly…. but a book just seems to work for some readers better than a blog.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Selling out on Amazon must be a great feeling, thanks for writing about your experience and I’m glad the book has been a success.

    Yourself and Chris deserve it

  2. Congratulations on the book selling out. You nailed the reason I bought it: Logically Presented. That is one of the issues I have had with learning directly from blogs. I think a lot of bloggers could benefit from writing a book in their niche if their traffic and subscribers back it up.

  3. I was hoping you were going to write about this. I almost had to email you myself. I was looking for the book in my book store and they said they had it, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe I’ll see the book some other time.

  4. Sometimes I just like to sit and read from a book. I’m constantly reading something when I’m not working and sometimes it feels good to just leave the laptop or desktop behind, and crash on the couch or whatever with a good book — even if the topic I’m reading on is on web design or something internet related that I could obviously get from a computer and various websites. I guess the difference in medium is nice to switch back and forth.

  5. I read the blog daily and I purchased and read the book. In all honesty I like the blog better.

    Congrats of selling out on Amazon…

    The Masked Millionaire

  6. A book does work better for many people. It`s just more cool to read a book. It gets straight into your head. When reading an LCD screen things can distract you and not be able to understand things as well as reading a nice clean paper book.

  7. I enjoy reading blogs, and they are great for bursts of info or insight or motivation, but when I want to truly absorb information, I like to stay focused and link hopping does not allow that for me, whereas a book does.
    Maybe this will help: Blogs are like delicious gourmet cocktail appetizers served on a silver tray; books are the sit-down, five-course meal. I can get full on appetizers, but it is more work finding the food servers and then getting rid of the toothpicks, than it is having the food right in front of me.

  8. I was trying to buy the book , but Amazon does not ship it in Europe. What is the best choice when I want it shipped in Europe ? Paying Options ? Most affordable shipping costs? Can anyone give me some advice ? Please mail me at [email protected]. Or just comment on my blog.


  9. I found it much easier to write a book after having a content-heavy blog up in the first place. Then, its largely just a matter of tweaking material and moving things around. Imagine writing that book if you didn’t already have plenty of posts.

  10. may i know how much you have got? :p
    just ignore me if you don’t want to answer

  11. I have to say from a purely ego point-of-view, it is very satisfying to walk into a bookstore or library and see your own book. The writing of a blog and a book are vastly different as you point out, but they can definitely feed off of each other – blog readers discovering your book and book buyers discovering your blog.

  12. The book is great so I’m glad it is getting a lot of readers! I’d like to learn a little about the actual process of getting a publisher to publish your book and all the effort that must have taken. Can you give us an idea of what that was like?

  13. Good post Darren, thanks. I started the other way around and had a book published back in 1998. It’s been moderately successful (3rd edition 2007) and I’m now working on second title.

    You’re spot on about the differences between blogging and writing a book. I only started seriously blogging this year, although I’ve been running my own website since 2000.

    One big difference, after the writing is done, is in the promotion of the book. You had this blog to market and promote the book, so you had an established target audience. If you’re writing on a topic very different from that covered by your blog, it’s worth exploring other strategies. Luckily there are a lot of resources out there to help you do that. Get Googling!

  14. Sold out eh? Well, I am in Canada, so no matter what I would have to order it I think from Chapters.ca. From the good reviews you have so far about the book, I am curious to see this linear view point. I know you cannot write pages in your blog posts. Blog posts are not intended for that reason, but a book is!

  15. Thanks for sharing this aspect of the book-writing process. As an aspiring author, and blogger, I’d also be interested to hear more about how you and Chris approached publishers (or did they approach you?). Any part of the process you can share (and any tips for first-time authoris) would be helpful. Congratulations on the success of the book – very well deserved!

  16. Peter R says: 06/13/2008 at 1:44 am

    Hey Darren,

    I was harboring a so-what-its-just-your-posts-in-book-form feeling about your book. But this post made me realize how cool it really is in many ways. For one, I never thought a book about blogging would make its way to the stores. That is an exciting feat. But more importantly your post made me imagine what it would be like to write and publish a book and go through that process of having reviews trickle in. Imagining writing a book and having people buy the physical product in stores all over the world, now that activates a sense of excitement that is inspirational.

  17. Hi Darren:

    Thanks so much for writing this! It hits really close to home this morning.

    I am in the middle of writing my book, and find the *exact* challenges that you described. While individual blog posts roll out of my mind easily, looking at the entire outline of my book, it is easy to get overwhelmed.

    Also, although I have tons of content on my blog that relates to the book, culling it and finding the essence of what the process is from going to corporate to entrepreneur (my topic) is not easy.

    I get comfort from those who have walked the same path and lived to tell about it (you, Penelope Trunk, Ramit Sethi, Seth Godin, Garr Reynolds, etc.).

    So thanks for the insight!

    I better get back to writing the book. :)


  18. I was actually one of the people that won their copy from the ScribeFire contest. I’m so glad I did! This book is awesome. It’s actually filled with real content instead of a bunch of filler.

    In other words, I’m glad you wrote it. ;)

  19. I have read the book and been an avid reader of the blog. I think hes correct in saying that some poeple learn diffrently. I enjoyed the book alot but think I proccess better through the blog.

  20. Hi,
    I live in France, but I ordered the book from Amazon.co.uk and am half-way through it. In case you worried (you probably don’t anymore judging by the sales), I find it very useful and I would probably relate to what your e-mail correspondent wrote. There is something reassuring in the structure of a book that takes you from point A to point B, in a matter-of-fact style.
    Anyhow, reading the book and the blog is a great pleasure, so thanks a lot!

  21. I saw the book in Barnes & Noble a few days ago – for some reason it made me smile.

    A great read – I got about halfway through it in a nice chair.

  22. Darren, was wondering whether the books will be marketed in Malaysia’s book store? Looking forward to get a copy.

    And about writing the book, wow, it sure takes a lot of effort there, but am happy that your book are great. :)

  23. Congrats on the success of the book, Darren!

    I tend to scan content online, then forget where I saw it when it comes up that I need the info. Yes, there is everything available online, but it’s not all in one place! I enjoy reading books for that reason – it’s all in one place. And, I reread books several times and always learn something new each time. I hope books never go out of style!

  24. Hey Darren

    Congrats and continued success with your site and book. I really enjoyed your story presented in the book. Thanks for being transparent, the process (your story) discussed in the book is encouraging and calming. One and half years before you became a part time blogger. All the best!

  25. Congrats on writing the book, a great accomplishment definitely. Can already imagine it being used as blogging guides for companies to teach their bloggers on how to stand out and market the company’s blog, hehe.

    Like the why to write a book and blog part of this entry especially though, the logical presentation and up to date in particular.

    It feels a bit of a turn down to read something like that as it’s more than true. Especially as blogs remain in existence for multiple years the logical presentation is getting lost easily, there are some forms of categorizing at hand but it’s far from as extensive as what one would do with a book of course.

    The author of the blog “evolving” over time absolutely is to be seen as well, even in blogs which have just been around for a year you can already see pretty big changes coming in writing style for one, but also even in niche blogs what’s written about. Once a blog stays up and active longer this only grows more and more.

  26. That’s pretty awesome that your success in blogging has led you to make a book and have it sold out and require a reprint in such a short time.

    Now I’m not 100% on this but is the link to your book also an affiliate link? So your making money off selling the book plus affiliate sales? I’m not trying to bash you but it would be a smart idea if your not already doing it.

    Just my 2 cents.

  27. Darren,

    Thanks for sharing your insight – I never thought writing a book would be such hassle – and rewarding :)


  28. Congratulations on a great book. I am glad that you decided to write a book as it provided a great reference tool for me. I have many of the pages flagged for quick reference.

    Thank you,
    Jessica Bond
    Medical Careerist

  29. Reading the book that’s co-authored by two people is interesting. I’ll be reading “when Chris did this…”, I would think “Oh, Darren wrote this chapter” and vice versa.

    The book is handy because it’s organized and give a good overview. Having been reading this blog for some time now, I didn’t notice that much new stuff in the book, but I like the way the materials are presented.

  30. Thanks for this comparison, it is interesting to see.

    I’m still waiting for my book to arrive… any day now, any day :).

  31. I think the book is a go as its designed such with all the important & necessary pieces in tacked. Blogs are normally buffed up with various newsy post and so. I think a book a great filter to those if you have huge amount of Resources like Darren.

  32. The book is on the way to my house. Or at least I think it is. Ordered it a few days ago and after seeing that it has sold out and the fact that I don’t have the book in hand yet does not look good for me. Oh well, I will get it on reprint. I can not wait to read it. Thanks

  33. Every testimonial I hear/read about the Problogger Book pushes me closer and closer to purchasing it. Which is why its finally on its way to my house. :-)

    I’m incredibly excited about the book – and can’t wait to “dig in.” I agree that it takes different mediums to learn well – and the internet, combined with books – makes for a chilling resource in learning the ways of the web.

  34. I’ve gone through a similar process with a blog I wrote in 2006. I published a book here in Australia in 2007 and it’s available in bookstores around the country and online but it’s only just going to Amazon now. I must say, it’s been a wonderful journey and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was challenging and almost overwhelming as you indicate.

  35. Got a giggle out of it being easier for one reader to grasp.. Spend many a day trying to explain (web) designing for cognitive disabilities.. Know it when I see it work or not, just have the doggonedest time describing why some things work and others don’t..

    Thinking on your book, having something tangible to hold by its own can help.. Am guessing entries are brief and concise, too, due to conscious time allotted to write, write, and rewrite where any one of each our own blog posts are more often quickly sent and can be lengthy just because it’s there..

    Reviews sound so good.. Looking forward to eventually getting these Fingertips on a copy, too..

    Cyber hugs from Talking Rock.. :)

  36. I was very disappointed about Amazon selling out. Just when I was ready to buy 2 copies and it seemed like no one had them. I actually had to go out to a physical Barnes and Noble store (well, I sent my husband out, hehe) to get one! I never pay retail price for anything, usually by shopping online, but I did for the Problogger book.

    I ordered the other copy through Barnes and Noble.com because it was for a friend and it was going to be mailed anyway.

    It was well worth the price and the wait!

  37. Barbara says: 06/13/2008 at 11:43 pm

    I have to say “thanks!”

    I’ve been trying to get a blog up and running at my employer — so many of our customers are using our website resources and shopping online that it seemed a no-brainer.

    The Powers That Be were dubous about the research I did about blogging, because so much of it was online. But put a Real Live Book in their hands? And they’re suddenly a lot more persuaded….

    So thanks!

  38. You are truly a great blogger.i ve enjoyed reading all ur posts but yet i want to see another post on ur blog which tell us about every step u took to bring this blog to where it is now .i mean u could publish about how u felt when u got the first visitor to ur blog , the first subscriber , ur first adsense cheque etc ,. iam eager to read about them .Thanks again for such a lovely blog !!!

  39. i am bit unlucky, because it will take atleast a month inorder to ship books to india. I already ordered through Amazon. i hope i will get it very soon

  40. Congratulations on the success of your book! It really helped in the creation process of my blog. So many times in the past, I have read a “how to” book on one subject or the other, only to put the book down and never take action on what I had learned.

    Your ProBlogger Book was more of a step-by-step guide for me and I attempted to follow your instructions to the letter. For the first time in my life I took immediate action on what I had learned. I have the content, I just needed a little guidance on this thing called “blogging”.

    I’m proud to say that I launched my blog TODAY, first post ever, and I owe a huge Thank You to you, your blog, and that book for getting me off the ground.

  41. Congrats on the book!
    I did the reverse – wrote and published a book (Internet Riches http://www.scottfox.com/internet-riches-book.html) first and then became a blogger.
    I’ve found writing for a blog actually more difficult because you have to so quickly develop and present your thoughts. Among other challenging differences, in book format you have more time to reflect before publication, as well as space to develop longer themes.
    Your help in learning to write concisely for a blog audience is why I read Problogger and why I ordered your book, too.

  42. On your point of having a co-author, I wanted to add that I agree with your assessment that it made the book more rich. Having just finished it a couple of days ago, I found the different perspectives interesting and the way you both played off each other very refreshing in a book.

    Unlike a lot of other multi-author books, there were very distinct times throughout the book where you’d know who was writing (by mention or by style). The balance that you and Chris provided each other throughout the book makes it 100 times more valuable than if it was a book written by just one of you (not that it wouldn’t have been just as wonderful to read).

    Now that I’ve gone from start to finish with the book, I’ll be starting it again tomorrow with highlighter and notepad in hand. I’ve got the basic ideas, now it’s time to learn my own take-away principals.

    I’m rambling but my heartfelt thanks to the both of you for a very well written, well thought out, and inspiring book!

  43. I would have to agree with that reader. Reading your book definately made the blog easier to understand.

  44. I really want to write a book, but the main problem is when i start writing and in the midlle. I got stuck, like have no brain to finish it, hai darren, could you suggest me how to escaping from those problem?

    Beginner Blogger

  45. Vanilla Man says: 06/16/2008 at 6:37 pm

    What about publishing your book on Russian? Have you ever thought about this possibility?

  46. Hi Darren. This is my first time commenting on your blog. I ordered your book from amazon and am about half way through. So much great information. I am just now entertaining the idea of monetizing my blog and I love the questions you put forth in the book that we should ask ourselves. I have already had about 100 aha moments while reading it and have highlghted and tabbed probably more than half of the pages already.
    Thanks so much for all the great information.

  47. Darren, I recently just read your book (and posted a review on my new blog) and I must say it was awesome. Your book was the inspiration behind starting my blog in the first place :)

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