Tag Archive: About Blogging


Horned Lizard and The Westchester Press

The Horned Lizard of Self Publishing is researching How To Turn A Blog Into A Book. How to make a blook. Horned Lizards want to know.

So I am testing each of the blog to book methods I can find to add “How To Turn A blog Into A Book” to my “How To Self Publish A Book” series.

I am investigating this topic because our blogs contain super-awesome-mega content and breathtaking photos, and turning them into books is a great idea. Making a blook!

My standards for the process are high.

  • I want a nice looking book, but I don’t want to have to spend hours formatting it, because I could do that manually, the same way I usually make books.
  • I want the photos to look good, and that’s going to be a challenge because while 72 dpi looks great on screen, it doesn’t look great in print.
  • The book probably needs to be in color, because of all the effort I’ve put into the photos, and color print books are expensive to produce… but, ebooks!  It could be an ebook (future posts on ebooks coming soon)
  • And I want to be able to access the book file. For cut and paste, for other uses of my materials. I want to create a file that I can take anywhere, print anywhere.

Blurb.com has the lion’s share of Google’s keyword hits, and so I started with them.

They advertise a blog to book method and they offer color books – hardcover or soft. They claim they can slurp my blog and drop it into a book, which I can then order for myself and sell online from their service.

First I set up an account, which was easy. Then I went to “Make Books And More” where I found “Blog Book”, and then was instructed to download their software, Blurb Booksmart. Which I did.

Ah soooo… the software resides on my computer, and therefore so do all my book projects, until I am ready to order a copy of the book. This way, I don’t take up their server space – clever ducks.

The software was free. There was no charge at all, actually, until I was ready to order the printed book. So that’s good.

There are seven book size options, and two of them are my preferred book sizes… 6×9 or 5×8. But there is only one blog-to-book layout option – which has the picture in a small square, and the text in a shorter column to the right.

If I want a different layout, I have to go into some heavy manual formatting while learning their Booksmart software… only to find that my low res pictures are looking very bad in my chosen layout.
Wah.
Hmmmm.

The process supports four kinds of blog platforms: blogger, live journal, typepad, and wordpress.com. Which is great, unless you’ve moved your wordpress blog to self hosting, like I have. In which case, this process will not work. Game over for all my blogs except one.

Okay, forward I go with my Blogger.com blog, which has more than 100 posts and gets slurped into Blurb’s program without a hiccup. Where it looks like crap. And where I can’t do anything with it except print it out through Blurb.com. Hmmm.

My blook was 256 pages, and not all of the posts were properly separated, so it would have been even more pages. It is very easy to price the potential book using Blurb.com’s buttons, so I could see right away – before doing any more formatting – that my 6×9 softcover color print book would cost $37.95 per copy.
Ummm… oh dear. That’s not exactly the base cost I was looking for. 

If I gave up color, then my book would cost $12.95 per copy… but, but, I have to have color!

In summary, Blurb.com has a very nice system to capture a hard copy book of a blog as a novelty or one time gift.

It will take time to format it nicely, and unless you posted gigantic pictures on your blog, your images will be either tiny or blurry – your choice. I don’t consider this a commercially viable option for making a book out of my blog. And it doesn’t give me an electronic document to have my way with.

But it sure is a nice piece of software… which makes a nice, pretty, pricey book.

I will keep looking. This is not How To Turn A Book Into A Blog. Not in my blook.

 

 

 

 

The Free Rooster is alive and well

My blog at www.TheFreeRooster.com is alive and well, hosted on Blogger.com and headed for a blook adventure!

Back in 2009, when I realized that I was learning how to self publish a book, I followed the advice of every resource I could find, and started a blog to promote my book.

The book was “Just a Couple of Chickens” and the blog was www.TheFreeRooster.com.

I blogged about raising chickens, urban chickens, rural chickens, things that ate rural chickens, economic disaster recovery strategies, and writing a book.

I also experimented with every gadget Blogger.com had to offer, and it went pretty well.

But I grew out of Blogger… I needed to do more than it would let me do for free. I discovered wordpress and self hosting, which required a lot of learning by doing, but in the end allowed me to do what I needed to do for the least possible price.

I created a new blog to support both my first book and my current book, the soon-to-be-available-now-in-traditional-publishing-submission biography of my grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett…. and to squawk on about self publishing.

So where will www.TheFreeRooster.com go now? What will happen to it?

I have big plans for it… the first of which is to turn it into a blook, to preserve all the still useful information it contains. And then I plan to do big fun things with it starting fresh. Fun fresh things that are big.

In the meantime, it remains a live site with lots of gadgets down the side and an archive of useful information… Blogger is a great platform, and I think it was initially easier to learn than WordPress, but ultimately more limiting than WordPress. When the blook is complete, I will announce it here with great fanfare. I suspect there are a lot of bloggers out there who will be interested in How To Turn A Blog Into A Blook….. !

 

 

Learning WordPress Builds Bridges To Other Knowledge

WordPress knowledge is a bridge to other website builder software… it is worth the time to learn it.

WordPress is a free blogging tool which can also be used to build entire websites. I highly recommend it for self publishing websites, particularly if you are a Do It Your Self Publisher, like me.

WordPress first came out in 2003, but I didn’t really catch on until after 2009. By then, everywhere I turned, I heard the advice to “learn WordPress” if I was going to blog about how to self publish a book.

So I did!
I learned enough to be dangerous, that is.
(Meaning, enough to seriously brick my own website if I am not careful…)

At first, I was kind of sulky, because everyone said that WordPress was easy peasy… and I didn’t find it so peasy.

Sure, it’s easy to get set up and going on a free blog at WordPress.com, which is an absolutely awesome site… but once I started to get cocky and stretch my wings a bit, I found that I needed to learn more advanced applications of WordPress.

For instance, I ran into my picture upload limit at WordPress.com so I migrated to self hosting, using BlueHost (which I am happy with) and built up my blog but did not install Akismet.

Those of you who know WordPress already know what happened…. within a couple of months I had over 30,000 comments on my blog, all from Viagra.

So I rolled up my sleeves and knuckled down, buckled down, and learned WordPress. And installed Askismet.

And I’m really glad I did, because I am able to build and maintain this website for my self publishing work, plus another website for the feathers I sell for crafts. And when I went back to tune up my website for my blown eggs for crafts, I was able to take that site-builder software much farther than before, because of everything I’d learned while learning WordPress.

So a big thank you shout-out to the original authors of WordPress and the world of developers who keep it growing… and now I join my voice to those who say: “If you are self publishing a book, learn WordPress and build your site and blog away…”

 

How to use a website as an author platform

These may be some of my far ancestors, but since nobody labeled the photos, I will never know. To me, they represent my many inner selves. Especially the dude in the uniform and the chick in the corset. Those are definitely my inner voices.

I have been listening to expert advice regarding how-to-be-a-successful-author, and all of my sources say “create and maintain a platform online.” So I recently sat down with myself to try and figure out how to present myself online and everywhere else.

“How should I present myself?” I asked myself.

“Lie like a rug!” came one answer.

“With Dignity!” came another.

“Don’t do it,” came a third.

“You always say don’t,” retorted one.

“No I don’t,” replied a third.

“You just did,” one pointed out.

“Grow up, both of you,” said another.

“This,” I said to all of them, “is why I try not to talk to myself.”

So I set up a website and I began to blog about the subject matter showcased by my two books, Just A Couple Of Chickens, and the soon-to-be-released biography about my grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett. And I discovered that I had a third subject to blog about… self publishing, and how to do it, and what I think about it, and how it’s going as I do it. And I began to recognize my voice through this work… my voice is my platform, and my platform is how I talk to my readers – established and new.

At first, I felt that all this blogging and social media-ing… all this platform developing… was taking time away from my ultimate purpose, which was to write and sell books and become mega-rich author. But then I realized that all this blogging and reaching out into the dark with my keyboard was developing a direction for my writing. It was giving me clarity and focus. It was giving me mental wealth… even when I though nobody was reading it. Which actually, they are… (arrgg! Writers Block!)

I realized that I have a definite niche focus for my self publishing… which is Do-It-Yourself, and Own Your ISBN.  I discovered that the direction for my chicken book sequel is not just poultry raising, but is also Urban Homesteading. And I was able to expand on the material that built my grandfather’s biography – going further with the subject than I was able to do in the book itself, because my publisher was anxious about the page count. (So far, it’s out for submission to a traditional agent, so that was another meeting of the selves that didn’t go well…)

So already my platform has brought me (mental) riches. It isn’t a timesuck, it’s a garden… a pathway… a meeting place.

What should I do with my author platform?

  • I think I should expand on my author themes,
  • be a resource by sharing my experiences,
  • connect with other people doing similar things,
  • pose questions to the industry,
  • and share my personality.

Plus it’s great fun to pursue additional subjects pertaining to my books, like Famous People Who Met My Grandfather, and Funky Chickens.

 

 

 

I’ve been plugging the same question into google for hours now, and I keep getting the same answer.

“How often should I post on my blog?” I ask…
“Every day” blogging experts answer…

But I don’t like that answer, so I try again.
Google has the infinite patience of a robot.

An Ocean of Self Publishing Advice

Days, like breakers, roll up on my beach endlessly when I contemplate posting every day.

“Every day if you want to build traffic…”
“Every day if you want to attract new readers…”
“Every day if you want to keep loyal readers…”
“Every day if you want to rank higher on keyword searches, which brings you more traffic…”

I switch up my question, still hoping for an answer I will like better.
Google has the flexibility of a robot – it gives me the same answer while it varies the sources.

I choose some of my favorite blogs… how often are they posting?
Every day.
Hmm, sometimes they skip a day.
Oh, no they don’t.
Those are weekend days.

Wah.

Well, for now I will stick with posting at least three times a week.
But the answer to the question is that posting every day builds traffic. And for those of you bloggers who are valiantly posting every day… I raise my glass to you!

 

 

 

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