Thursday, July 16, 2015

Converting Blog Articles into Books

I never dreamed of converting my interviews at Mysterious Writers into a book when I started the blog site eight years ago. But such good advice and life stories evolved that I couldn’t allow the material go to waste. I recycled a great many interviews and saving them for posterity seemed the right thing to do, especially after Carolyn Hart and Jeffrey Deaver agreed to contribute to the series.

I interviewed more than a hundred mystery writers and submitted  them to Poisoned Pen Press, which turned them into ebooks. I’ve seen Internet ads offering to turn blogs into books for $14.95. A great idea for a blogger’s memoirs but it's not very profitable for resale. I offered my book to three publishers, all of which accepted, so I was faced with a dilemma. Do I go with PPP, which only offered to publish for Kindle, Nook and Sony readers? Two small, well-respected presses also offered a print version but wanted to make changes. I finally decided to accept Poisoned Pen’s contract with the hope they would also publish a print edition or sell the print rights to another publisher.

Interviews with unknown writers usually don't sell books and I found that the best time to approach a bestselling author is just before a new release. My interviews with Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Nancy Pickard, Louise Penny, John Gilstrap and other publishing giants were accepted along with their articles written for my Mysterious Writers blog.

I had also been featuring quotes from interviewees at my Facebook pages. Among my favorites is one from Nancy Means Wright: "Vermont writer Howard Frank Mosher nails up rejection slips and adverse reviews on the side of his barn and shoots holes in them. I just leave mine in a cardboard box and let my Maine Coon cats make a nest or pee on them. So send that manuscript out again!"

And from Louise Penny: "Finish the book. Most people who start books never finish them. Don't be one of those. Do it, for God's sake. You have nothing to fear--it won't kill you. It won't even bite you. This is your dream--this is your chance. You sure don't want to be lying on your death bed regretting you didn't finish the book." Lawrence Block was more succinct with his advice: "Write to please yourself. And don't expect too much."

If starting that first novel has you discouraged or you think you'll never get it finished, read what some of these writers have also gone through. Their stories are not only inspiring, they'll make you laugh and you'll wonder how the publishing business ever survived. (We writers must have inspired the invention of the straight jacket.)

I’ve had so many good interviews since Mysterious Writers was published that I plan to produce additional  collections in more than one genre. I’d really rather be writing mystery or historical novels but I began my writing career a news reporter, so interviewing comes easily. And the rewards are immeasurable.

I hope aspiring writers will discover something in this collection to help them in their struggle to publication, which is the main reason for the blog site as well as the book. Mystery readers will also enjoy reading about their favorite authors.

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