You’ve been in business for a few years now, and you have a whole slew of marketing content up your sleeve – brochures, flyers, blog posts, articles, interviews, case studies and more. Writing a book should be easy, right? You can just use your existing content to bulk up your word count.
While using existing content is a great way to add depth to your work, and existing content can be a valuable resource when you want to get everything written and published quickly, think carefully about what you choose to put in your book.
When clients use a lot of existing content for their book, I frequently come across the same issue:
This is for one of two reasons.
- 1They’ve copied and pasted an entire article or page without trying to blend it in to the surrounding content, or
- 2They’ve included something which relates to the subject of their book, but it isn’t actually relevant for their ideal readers.
So, when trying to figure out how to choose the content to include in your book, keep the following two questions in mind:
1. Is the content directly related to the main message of my book?
If your content doesn’t directly relate to your main message, it won’t fit into your book, no matter how hard you try to justify it or blend it in. I don’t care how great it makes your business sound, or how persuasively it campaigns for an issue close to your heart, or even if you won an award for it. If it isn’t directly related to your main message, it’s going to confuse and frustrate your readers as they try to figure out your point, or lose their place once you circle back from your tangent.
However, if you have a piece of content you love but which doesn’t fit into your book, don’t despair – it could always be your inspiration for the next book.
If you have some content which does relate to your main message, then make sure you blend it in to the surrounding content! I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to come to a section within a chapter that starts by introducing general information about the chapter topic, which was already covered at the beginning of the chapter, before going into the subject of the section. At minimum, to help your content blend you will probably need to remove the introduction and conclusion of any blog post or article and just focus on the guts of the content. If you’re really committed, you can dissect the blog post or article into key points, and blend the paragraphs about each of those key points into parts of the book where they also appear.
2. Does my reader really need to know this?
If your content does relate to your main message, the next question to ask is whether it is relevant for your reader.
One of my clients is an online content writer and, as you’d imagine, she had plenty of existing blog posts that she could use for her book. However, while all of them related to content and writing and online content writing, not all of them were relevant to the reader.
One example was an article she’d included explaining the difference between content and copy. Now, while an interesting distinction, it doesn’t really have any value to anyone who works outside of marketing. And her ideal readers weren’t in marketing – they were small business owners with little marketing or online experience who wanted a clear guide to teach them exactly what to do, and what not to do, to boost their business with content. They didn’t need to know the difference between content and copy to do this – they just needed to know how to write and publish words that worked.
So what did we do? We removed that section and just used ‘content’ as a generic term throughout the book. Much easier – the readers get the information they need, without having to learn new terminology that probably won’t have long-term value for their businesses.
In short, when it comes to choosing which content to recycle for your book, as long as you focus on whether the content’s relevant to your message, and whether the content’s relevant to your readers, you’ll be on the right track.