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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com


Dabbling for Dollars . . . .

Turn Your Column Into A Book
by Alyice Edrich
Copyright 2005, Alyice Edrich

Columnists write fresh, new material on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis. But once the column is written, the columnist usually forgets about the piece and moves on to other columns. After a few years, those columns add up to a great collection of material. That material can breathe new life in the form of a book.

Check Your Contract
Before beginning any project, always check your contracts. Make sure you only gave up one-time rights to your column. If you gave up all rights, you cannot resell those columns or compile them into a book unless you get written permission from the company who purchased all rights to your material.

Begin With Your Column
The type of column you write will determine the type of book you write. It will also determine how much work you'll need to transform your column into a book.

Essayists can put together a book of essays within a week. Just sort through your essays, find a common ground, and plug them into a word document. There are several options available for essayists, such as:

The best of Column Name
Essays by theme.
Essays by chronological order.
Favorite essays you've written, with a note at the bottom updating the status of your life or circumstance since the time you first wrote that essay.

Essayists can even take their essays a step further by using several essays as the heart of a book written with all new material. In other words, did some of your essays spark ideas for new books? Can you use a few essays as the basis for chapters in a new book?

Question and answer columnists will have a little more work cut out for them, since their answers may not be long enough become a chapter all by themselves. But having done most of the research to write the material in the first place, adding meat to the chapters should be a breeze. There are several options available for Q&A columnists, such as:

105 Theme Tips
X ways to your theme

Interview columnists can put together a book of interviews and increase the book's value by adding photos, background information, and lesser-known tidbits about each interviewee.

Food columnists can put together a book of their favorite recipes, giving credit to each chef, cookbook author, and/or restaurant. They can also put together a book of their favorite restaurants and include interviews with the owners, background information about the restaurant's theme, etc.

Financial columnists can put together several money books, each book geared on a specific theme, such as:

How to get out of debt in less than a year.
How to save for your child's college education.
How to live on XX dollars per month.
How to save for your child's college education.

Format Your Book
Formatting your book makes it easier to read your material and find important information. Formatting your book will vary depending on the size of your book and whether or not you'll distribute your book as an electronic downloadable book or a print book. Formatting consists of page layout, margin widths, font size, picture layout, chapter titles, sub-titles, page numbers, table of contents, etc.

Add More Meat
While you may want to just insert your columns and be done, it's wise to take the time to read through your columns. Some information may be outdated and some information may need clarification. Remember, when you first wrote your column, you wrote it for an audience who already had some knowledge about your topic, and what your column was about.

As an author of a book, you have to take into consideration the hundreds, if not thousands, of potential readers who know absolutely nothing about your topic and decided to pick up your book to gain insight.

Find Expert Quotes
Since you are the columnist, and the expert you may feel it's not necessary to include expert quotes and depending on the type of column you wrote, you may be right. If, however, you feel expert quotes will enhance the value of your book, take the extra time to include a few quotes. And don't pull the quotes out of an already published book; try to get fresh quotes by interviewing your sources.

Edit Your Work
Editing is very important. Taking the time to edit your work can make a huge difference in the quality of your work. If you are an essayist and decide to publish a collection of essays, take the time to read through them before you go to print. While you may feel they were edited and good enough to go to print several years ago, your writing style may have changed. Reading through past essays may allow you to improve those pieces.

Copyright Your Work
Your column may have been copyrighted by the publication you sold first rights to, such as listing you as one of the licensors. But the material is not officially copyrighted in your name until you take the time to register your works with the United States Copyright Office. Many columnists will save a year's worth of columns and then save them under the name, Author's Name: Compilation of Essays, Year. The fee is only $30 to register your material and will save you a lot of legal headaches should someone try to lay claim to your work.

Sell Your Book
As a columnist, you probably have many contacts you can use to help promote and sell your book. Take advantage of those contacts. Renegotiate your contract to include a free advertisement in the publication that showcases your column. If you can't get a free advertisement, make sure the byline in your column includes information on how to purchase your book.

In a matter of 14 days you could have your very first book.

Happy writing!

Tid-Bits Book CoverAlyice Edrich is an affordable freelance writer specializing in how-to articles and Q&A interviews for the Web. To view her freelance writing rates, or to hire her for your next writing project, visit http://alyiceedrich.net.














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