Turning the material from your podcast into a book could be a great idea! Read on to learn how ...
I was stammering. My brain was frantically trying to deflect this uncomfortable question.
The red lights were flashing (You’ll be fired!) and all tact was fleeing the building.
How do you tell someone that their book won’t sell?
I was the lowly layout artist on a project turning a podcast into a book. I had dutifully placed the head shots of each interviewee in the book and had carefully aligned each biography. I highlighted where each question had been asked and where each answer was given. Despite my best efforts, the book was… terrible.
The worst part was that the book could have been really good.
Some of the interviews unearthed great stories and some pointed advice.
The problem was that the “author” had put no effort into creating a narrative around their source material. It was a disjointed collection of interviews, transcribed verbatim from their show. There was nothing new added, no insight into the topic, no connection from one interview to the next.
I couldn’t fathom who would enjoy this book.
And that’s the unvarnished truth about most “interview books.” You can’t re-purpose existing content without putting in some effort to take it from one platform to the next.
A lazy attempt to do this can tarnish your name and the brand you’ve already worked hard to create.
But, if you have a podcast already, there is great news: you are half way to a draft manuscript!
You still have to put in effort, but it’s much less than if you’re started writing a book from scratch.
You have already done a lot of research on your subject. You’ve conducted dozens, if not hundreds, of interviews all centered around the subject of your podcast. And, you’ve probably spent many hundreds of hours thinking about and possibly even writing about this subject already.
You have expertise, experience, and access to other experts.
So, how do you take that and turn it into a profitable book?
First, celebrate the fact that you have existing content to use and something many aspiring authors don’t have … an audience!
Podcast listeners are more likely to buy books than the average person too. Think about it … your podcast listener:
- Seeks knowledge over music… and knowledge seekers tend to read books too (or, listen to audio books!),
- Is already interested in your area of expertise,
- Likes to listen to YOU, so they are more likely to buy your book, too,
- Views you as an expert,
- Might be asking for more content via comments, emails, and social media posts!
So, how do you turn your podcast into a book?
1. Embrace Your Expert Status
If you host a successful podcast, you already read blogs for podcast ideas, search the news for relevant trends, and conduct interviews in your area of interest. You’ve learned what your audience wants, and you know how to use your podcast to reach your own personal and business goals.
Guess what? That makes you an expert and it definitely qualifies you to share that expertise in a book! Still don’t believe me? Maybe, you think you’re still too new in your industry, or perhaps your ‘story’ doesn’t have a good ending.
Think of successful books like Think and Grow Rich, or Chicken Soup for the Soul. These books were collections of interviews and stories. By doing that work, the authors became the known expert in their field of study. It doesn’t have to be your success story you share.
2. Collect & Analyze Your Content
If you haven’t yet, it’s time to determine your goal for writing your book.
With that goal in mind, it’s time to go through your content. Review what shows garnered the most reactions, listens and even social media shares from your audience. What do these podcasts have in common?
Take note of trends in topics, tone, and interviewees key pieces of advice.
Review interviews which featured interesting examples, a quirky angle on a generally accepted advice, or brought a new perspective to your subject that you don’t hear about very often.
Next, look at the comments sections of your most popular shows. What topics are people asking for more detail on? Where are commenters adding their own thoughts? These are places where your audience is already asking for more content or is highly engaged. These hot spots are perfect for chapters and sub-topics in your book . Start making a list.
You probably already do this but you can conduct a poll of your audience to test their interest in different topics within your greater subject area. This can be a great way to gauge interest in topics to explore in your book AND podcast.
Now, with all of this information, take a look at what you have. Identify any areas where you may need to add some research, or conduct a few more interviews.
3. Curate the Content and Create an Outline
Using the data you gathered in step two, it is time to pick your theme, or “through line.” This is the connecting fiber that strings your content together in a compelling way. When someone asks, “What is your book about?” your theme is at the heart of your answer.
Book Launchers is based in LA with a lot of Hollywood experience around the office. Taking a page from the movie world, we work with our clients to come up with a logline. In a TV show or a movie, a logline is a sentence that explains the central conflict of the story, with both synopsis of the plot, and an attention getting “hook”. The 4 Hour Work Week wasn’t about working four hours a week. That book was about ditching the norm of being trapped in a boring cubicle job and creating a business that allows you to live the lifestyle you’re dreaming about.
You need to be able to find the thread that ties your book idea into one sentence. This makes your book easier to write, ensures your book is engaging to read, and makes it way more marketable when it’s done.
This is pretty tricky to do well, and usually requires you get someone else to help you. At Book Launchers all our clients work with a professional writing coach to help them figure this out before they write their book. If you want help writing, publishing and selling your book, here are our membership options.
Next, compile your topics, and flesh out an outline (for more outline instructions, click here).
Organize your topics in a clear way, where topics and ideas build on each other. Consider where you can add your own personal stories, examples and case studies. Remember, you need to provide the material that sews all of these pieces together. Make a list of what you can talk about, and include that in your book outline.
Podcaster Lewis Howes did a fantastic job of this in his book, The School of Greatness. His through-line was the eight principles of greatness and each chapter covered one of those eight principles. Every chapter was formatted with:
- A 1-page introduction called “getting grounded”
- A personal story illustrating the principle of the chapter
- A cited expert who helps to formally define the featured principle
- Two more experts who bring further incite to the principle
- 2-4 exercises with in-depth instructions to master this principle in your own life.
Once you have curated your content, it is time to transcribe the interviews you’re going to include. Rev.com is a great service for transcription. They charge $1 per minute of audio though so it could get expensive. You can also try Upwork.com or Fiverr.com to find someone to transcribe the interviews you need.
Warning to all podcasters turning their podcast into a book
First, make sure you have written permission to quote from these interviews. Your podcast should have release forms prior to appearance on the show as part of your standard interview booking practices. If you haven’t done this in advance, it’s not too late to ask for permission now. Most people interviewed on podcasts want exposure, so they will readily agree to be included in a book!
If someone is hesitant, you can offer to let them review the quoted material before it goes to print.
Second, your book is not about the experts! It’s about your perspective on the subject.
Use the expert interviews to supplement or support your thoughts, research and stories. This book can be a great brand and business builder for you – but only if you are the dominant voice in the book.
Remember, your audience tunes in to hear your take on the world. They like your voice and trust your opinion. You cannot write a successful book for your audience that is absent of you.
4. Write Your Book
With your logline, an outline and your material all ready to go, it’s time to write your book. Because you’re turning a podcast into a book, you probably already realize you can speak out your book and transcribe the material to get your first draft.
Whether you’re writing or speaking out the content for your manuscript, here’s a simple approach to write your book quickly:
And, if you don’t think you’re a good writer, read how to write a book even if you’re not a good writer.
The most important part of the writing process when you turn your book into a podcast is to write as if you were talking to your podcast audience. Your audience already enjoys your “voice” and your presentation style. So why would you suddenly become “formal” if you are usually casual? This isn’t a stiff book report you gave in high school. The single biggest thing that will make your book unique is your personality!
Side Note: When I turn my interviews in my podcast into a book, can I edit the interviews?
When citing interviews, it is okay to take out ums, uhs, and other filler words. You can also correct grammar as long as you are not putting words into that person’s mouth. Typically, experts want to look smart and don’t mind you making them look professional. If in doubt, contact your interviewee and ask for their approval of the edited quote.
Once your first draft is done, it’s time to bring in a content editor. These professionals help hone your manuscript and craft your message. They also are very good at spotting leaps of logic, structure and organization issues, and places where your “voice” has changed. Content editors are always an invaluable part of your publishing team but they are even more important when you’re pulling together a variety of content. If you’re wondering what they cost, you can get our free Book Publishing on a Budget Guide.
5. Hire Professionals to Polish and Prep Your Book to Publish
You likely don’t have time to run a podcast and figure out the intricacies of ISBN numbers and copyright filings. It’s also a lot of work to find, screen and select editors, layout designers and cover creators. Most people who try to do it all end up taking twice as long to bring their book to market and end up publishing a half-baked effort- if they ever hit “publish” at all.
Bring in the professionals to give your book the presentation it deserves. The pros will make sure your book looks its best and is something you are proud to have your name on. Of course, this is what we specialize in at Book Launchers … we have the team to take your book through the phases of self-publishing and can even help oversee your launch. If you want to hire editors on your own and run a design contest to get a great book cover, there are videos on JulieBroad.tv that will help.
No matter what, you really need to invest in professional support when it comes to editing, layout and cover design. Imagine you met Arianna Huffington, Tony Robbins or James Altucher at an event and they asked for a copy of your book. Will you feel proud to give them your book if you didn’t invest in making it the best product possible?
Skipping on professional services to polish your book is not the place to save money. Honor your brand and set your book up for success and bring in the professionals to polish and publish your book.
6. Launch Your Book … and Enjoy a New Revenue Stream
“How do you plan on marketing?” was eventually how I answered the “author” of the podcast interview book. I don’t think he was fooled by my Ask-a-Question-to Avoid-a-Question tactic, but it was the best I could come up with. The author planned on sending the book out via social media and promote it via their YouTube channel– a plan that was doomed for failure, then and now (see Why Social Media Won’t Sell Your Book for more information).
Obviously you’ll promote your book on your podcast, but where else can you connect with your ideal readers?
Create a plan to sell your book. Start connecting with other podcasters, bloggers and potential book reviewers to begin lining up your launch promotions. Offer free copies to book reviewers. Give the experts you interviewed social media snippets, quotes and images to use to promote their involvement in the project. Turn them into your sales force by giving them reasons to be proud to be included in the book. Throw a launch party. Line up speaking gigs around your area to share your the big idea (that through line you created for your book). There are a lot of things you can do to launch your book … and promote it every month going forward.
Start checking items off the list. When the royalties start coming in, you’ll know the effort was worth it! And, soon you’ll find that you have new podcast listeners that have found you from your book.
Written by Jaqueline Kyle, Client Care Specialist, Book Launchers