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How To Publish a Book (even if you have no idea what you're doing)

Writing, bloggingHelene SulaComment

Do you like to read? Love books? Have always secretly dreamed of writing your own book one day?

Excellent. You are in the right place. 

How to Publish a book (even if you have no idea what you're doing)

 

You and I have a lot in common. Learning how to read was one of the most joyous experiences of my childhood. I was hooked as soon as I discovered that books could give you everything: Friends, adventures, wisdom, entertainment, an escape from reality. 

As many passionate readers, I would sometimes sit there after just having finished a book, staring dreamily into the distance and picturing my future: Sitting by an open window on my old wooden desk, coffee cup sitting forgotten next to me, writing furiously. "One day", I would whisper to myself, "I will be an author...".

 

20 years later 

 

Did I ever do anything to make this dream a reality? Nope. It was a lovely fantasy, to be dug out when sitting around a camp fire with friends, talking about unfulfilled dreams and lofty life goals, that we all knew we would never put into action. 

 

But what if we did? What if I did? 

 

On the eve of New Year's Eve 2014, I sat down and wrote myself a list of everything I wanted to achieve in the new year. My number one item was to write - and publish - a book.

I had absolutely no idea how to do it. I have no writer's friends, no experience in publishing, no job that has even remotely anything to do with books. 

 

And yet, I found a way to publish an ebook in 2015 that is available on Amazon, and I'm going to show you exactly how you can do it, too!

 

My (not so-) secret weapon is Blurb, a self-publishing and marketing platform. It is free, versatile, and gives you not only the tools to create print-or ebooks, but also the opportunity to sell your book through their website, in addition to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more than 39,000 online retailers.

 

Are you ready to get started? Let's go! 

 

1. Download software.

I chose BookWright, a free software that includes several templates, unique ISBN for your book, and a huge variety of fonts, layouts, text- and photo-containers you can place wherever you want, and a bunch of other stuff that I haven't figured out yet. Does it all sound overwhelming? It sure did for me. 

So I decided to keep it as simple as possible. After downloading BookWright, I came across the Novel Starter Template Guide. When you scroll down, you will see several different templates you can choose from.

 

 

2. Important your files as Rich Text Format.

I don't have any fancy book writing software, so I simply wrote my book in word document. To important your word document to BookWright, you have to save it in Rich Text Format. To do that, you select "save as", and then "Rich Text Format".
 

 

 

The next bit is going to be a bit technical (aka boring), it's only interesting to you if you want to use it. Feel free to skip to #4!


 

 

3. What the heck are "reflowable text containers"?

By far the biggest challenge for me was figuring out how to actually use BookWright. I'm sure that's due to my ignorance and not the software's fault, and I did figure it out in the end. 


The beginning is easy:

 Start new book? Yes, please!


 

The first few steps are easy, honest. You click on "Start a New Book", select the format, and then save it under the title you want. Now you have a blank slate, ready to get filled with your words:

 

The first thing you do is save every chapter individually as a .rtf (Rich Text Format) file. 

Then you add them all to BookWright. 

Now all you have to do is choose as layout (you simple drag and drop), and then drag your first chapter onto the page. 

 

More than likely, you will encounter a yellow triangle at this point, which will become the bane of your book-making experience:

 

By clicking on it, you will learn what's wrong. It warns you if the font is not eBook-compatible (that's easy to change, there are 50 fonts that are eBook-compatible), and the most common one:

Flowable text not displayed within book. 

For the life of me I could not figure out what they want from me, and got really frustrated. 

Until I stumbled across the solution accidentally:

 

When you hover the cursor of the mouse anywhere within the text box, a grey frame will appear around it. In the bottom right corner, you will find a square with a T in it. By hovering over it, this message appears:

Click this icon and then into another container to flow text.


 

Left-click on it. 

Then go to the next page and left-click on the grey frame there. 

The next page of your chapter appears! Once I figured that out, the rest was easy. 

 

4. Upload your book

Finally, we are getting to the fun part: getting it ready to be printed! 

 

Once you have it uploaded, Blurb offers spell check (you can skip it if you want), and the chance to go over it again. When you are happy, you upload!

 

5. Sell your book

This part is fun. And unreal. Also frightening.

I won't go into too much detail about the selling and distributing part, because it's surprisingly straightforward. 

If you decide to sell through Blurb, click here

If you want to sell through Amazon or other online retailers, click here

If you want to publish an eBook with Kindle Direct Publishing, click here

 

And just like that, you are a published author.

Now go and make your dream come true!

 

Miriam is a dog-loving eternal optimist, known for laughing loud and often (frequently at inappropriate times), overusing parentheses, and not taking herself too seriously. She likes to keep it real on her blog Farm Girl, (over-) shares her yoga journey on Instagram, and floods Pinterest with too many pictures of her animals.

 

 

 

SUPER Quick Tutorial: How To Find Your RSS Feed Url

blogging, BloggingHelene SulaComment

Finding your RSS can be useful for a number of reasons. But many bloggers are confused at how to find it, understand what it means, and why it matters. Today, I have a super quick tutorial on RSS and how to find it.

How to Find Your RSS Feed URL for your blog


RSS stands for "really simple syndication" and it's used to add your blog to directories such as Bloglovin or use it to update your Newsletter feed (some people have an email system set up and you can choose to receive their blog posts via email every time they post.) Basically, it's the way that your blog lets people know you've updated it.

It "pings" or notifies the server to say hey, I've got a new post! It lets Bloglovin, or any other RSS reader know that you have a new post and it pulls information from that post.

So here's how you find your blog's RSS feed URL:

1. Go to your blog (example, www.bloginbetween.org/blog)

2. Right Click, and click "View Page Source"

find_blog_rss

3. Hit: CTRL + F

4. Search for "RSS"

5. Find your RSS feed. It should look something like this:

title="RSS Feed" href="http://www.bloginbetween.org/blog?format=RSS" />

6. Your RSS feed is the link, starting with the "http". For example, on my blogger blog it looks like this:

http://www.heleneinbetween.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

 

That's it! I told you, this is a super fast, easy tutorial!

It’s Not About You! Tips for understanding and engaging your target readers

blogging, BloggingHelene SulaComment
Tips for Understanding and Engaging your target readers

If you want to have a successful blog, it’s essential you learn it’s not about you. As a first-born child, this was a hard pill to swallow early in my blogging days.

 

I thought if I created great content on topics I was interested in, I just had to sit back and watch the traffic come in. Yes, I was presenting well-researched, interesting information but the problem was that I wasn’t telling my readers why they should care and how it was relevant to their lives.

 

Whether you offer e-courses or the promise of delicious recipes, your value is in what you sell to readers.  Even if you haven’t monetized, realize that they are your customers. Successful bloggers know what their readers want, need and can’t live without.

 

If you’ve ever done a free e-course from Helene you know she’s got this down. Even though intellectually I know what she’s doing, every time she says something like, “I can’t believe all I’m telling you in my new course…” before I know it I’m getting my credit card. So how did she hook me?  Simply put, she has something she knows I want because she knows who I am (a newish blogger who is clueless about SEO).

 

So how can you do this on your blog?

 

First things first, you have to understand your readers. In the beginning, they’re hypothetical people, and you create personas for them.

 

 For example, if you run a health and wellness blog like me, a persona might be Kate, an active young 20 something whose getting used to working 9-5, struggling to pack healthy lunches and often laments choosing happy hour over workouts.

 

When I write an article about easy, healthy lunches, I write it as if I were talking directly to Kate. As you gather actual data from your readers (surveys, newsletters, social media), you can tweak your personas to accurately represent your readership.

 

From what I can tell, my readers right now are young, health oriented women between 18 and 35 who want tips on nutrition and health that they can actually use.

 

Sure, a smoothie recipe is great, but they want help on the days they’re hungover, have cravings they can’t kick, struggle with unexplained bloating or are tackling adult acne.

 

In short, they want help for when life feels like a hot mess, which is why I’ve created and my Get Real Guides available every Monday.

In less than 4 minutes, you can learn valuable tools to successfully tackle relevant (and inevitable) life challenges. Because let’s be real, if life was all rainbows and kale salads, I’d be out of a job.

 

Anna is a blogger at The Posh Body where she shares personal experiences, nutrition tips, recipes, problem-solving techniques and research on health conditions and healthy living.

Follow Anna's Blog, check out her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

 

 

How To Never Run Out Of Blog Post Ideas

blogging, Blogging, blog post ideasHelene SulaComment

One of the best ways to keep people engaged and interested in your blog is with fresh, new content. We all get stuck with writer's block and have a hard time finding new post ideas. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about what to post.

Here's how I narrow down what to post and figure out how to never run out of blog post ideas.

How to Never Run out of Content Ideas for Your Blog

Cruise Pinterest

I have a secret Pinterest board on my Pinterest where I pin my next ideas for blog posts. Whenever I feel stuck, or need to flush out an Idea, I look there. Pinterest is a wealth of resources.

Check out how to utilize Pinterest for Your Blog.

Read, Read, Read

The smartest people in the world read everything. News, blogs, books, etc. Reading helps to keep your brain active. My Dad (the smartest person I know) reads more than 3 newspapers a day and goes through a book a week (at least!). Reading will help you start churning out those creative ideas.

Listen to Music

I find music so creative. I love listening to lyrics and the story behind them. It really gives me so many ideas for blog posts and even my writing in general. As someone who's been trying to write a novel for her whole life, listening to music helps to loosen the stress and be more creative.

Ask Your Audience

Your readers and followers are some of the best resources to come up with blog post idea. Simply ask them what they'd like to hear from you. Or, check out which are your more popular posts and write an update to this. You'll feel more inspired just by asking and reading your own content.

Join Online Groups

Having a blog buddy to bounce ideas off is great. Try joining various Facebook groups or Twitter chats to find out what makes the blog world tick and what people are interested in.

Research

Even if I have a blog post idea, I like to research the topic to see if I can come up with an even better idea or to flush out my current content. A great FREE resource is Google Trends. This is also a great way to see what's popular and how you can come up with content ideas. For example, take a look at what's popular right now, then come up with a blog post around that. For instance, when I looked at the Google Trends today there was a lot of talk about the new Tina Fey and Amy Poehler movie, "Sisters." You could write a blog post about why you love those two, how bloggers can learn from them (since they're such excellent writers), or How comedy makes for a great blog post, etc.

Look at Your Past

I already talked about looking at your most popular posts, but if you've been around for a while, take a look at what you posted around this time last year. Is it time to do a refresh of that post? Could you turn that into a series? For instance, on Helene in Between last year I talked about my most popular posts of 2014, you can bet I'm going to do that again this year!

Instagram

I not only like looking at Instagram for the pretty pictures, I get inspiration. Take a look at the "Explore" page on Instagram to find even more fresh content and new ideas. Sometimes scrolling through these images gives me ideas for blog posts! Follow Blog in Between here: @bloginbetween.

Collaborate with Other Bloggers

I'm a huge advocate for reaching out to other bloggers. I truly believe we can all succeed and I whole heartedly believe in reaching out and working with other bloggers. Not only does this help grow both your blogs and create friendships, it also helps you to put your heads together to brainstorm even more content!

Check out: How to Collaborate with Other Bloggers.

Have Contributors

You don't have to do it alone! You can ask others to submit to your blog. You should give them a way for their content to shine. Plus, having a contributor helps give new and fresh opinions to your blog. You can contribute to Blog in Between right here.

Switch Up The Format

Getting bored with the same way you produce content? Switch it up! Create a video, come up with an e-book, have image friendly posts (aka Word-less Wednesday), draw out what you think, put it in graphs, or make an infographic. No one says you have to do it one way!

When Inspiration Strikes

Always have a way to write your ideas down. Whether that's in the notes section of your phone or you carry a notebook, it's a great way to not let the ideas escape you. Be aware of the world around you, it's a great resource (the best) to find new content ideas. Start thinking like a writer and piece together what's around you to write your ideas out.

How do you come up with content ideas?