Content repurposing…it’s the holy grail for any content producer: develop once, then re-use for a wide array of purposes.
But does it work for writing a book?
Can you repurpose your existing library of YouTube videos, podcast episodes or blog articles to get yourself across the manuscript finish line in record time?
In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host Scott MacMillan shares the secret for podcast hosts, YouTubers, and bloggers to leverage the content they’ve already published and traverse the path from entrepreneur to author.
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Please note: The transcript is produced by a third party company from an audio recording and may include transcription errors.
Scott A. MacMillan:
You're listening to The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, episode 30.
Welcome to The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now here's your host, Scott MacMillan.
Scott A. MacMillan:
Maybe you're already creating tons of content on a regular basis. A YouTube channel, a blog, a podcast. If you've been diligent and consistent and prolific over a decent amount of time, then you've no doubt got a treasure trove of compelling content in your vault. And I bet just maybe you've wondered once or twice, whether all of this could be repurposed for a book. If you haven't wondered that.. well, I bet you are now, aren't you?
Well, I've got good news and bad news for you.
So, let's start with the bad.
I've never, let me repeat, never, seen repurposed copy-pasted content from videos, audios, or blogs result in a quality book that anyone wants to read. No matter how good the original content might've been.
But all is not lost, my friend. All that time and effort, blood, sweat and tears that you've spent producing content for other platforms and media can significantly reduce the time it takes for you to write your book. It absolutely can–but you need a system…you need a plan, and that's exactly what you're going to get in this edition of Entrepreneur to Author.
Content repurposing. It's the holy grail of any content producer. Develop your content once, then reuse it for a wide array of different platforms, channels, and purposes. What's not to love about that?
Does it work for writing a book? After all for a respectable paperback of even 150 pages, you’ll need to write somewhere in the range of 30,000 to 50,000 words. That is not trivial. But maybe you've already got a library of 5 to 10 minute videos on your YouTube channel, or you've been dropping hour long podcast episodes for the past couple of years, or perhaps you've been writing blog posts and have amassed a small fortune in 750 word articles on every topic in your field. Surely all this content, this effort can be well repurposed to get you across the manuscript finished line in record time? Well, yes…and no. Let me explain.
The problem that I see most often when content producers try to reuse their existing content for a book is that it ends up feeling disjointed. You see, they've started with the wrong lens, choosing all of what they consider to be their best content, filtering out anything they deem as less good. That kind of makes sense, right?
Well, no, actually. Quality is the wrong filter to use at this stage. We can elevate the quality later. That's not the issue. The right filter is relevance.
The key thing to note is that there's a right way and a wrong way to reuse content for a book. And here, my friend, is the right.
Step one strategize and plan.
That's right. Step one is no different than what we've been talking about since episode one of this podcast. And it's no coincidence it's the same as the first S in the entrepreneur to author steps method –Strategy and planning.
If you'd like to go deep on developing the strategy for your book, go back and listen to episodes. Four and five. But the short summary is this. You have to start by deciding two things. First, who are you writing your book for? That is who is your ideal reader? And second, what is the central question that your book will answer for them as it relates to your subject?
These are critical questions to answer because without answers to these questions, your book won't be anchored. It won't have a purpose. And as a result, it's not going to connect with your reader and it won't ultimately serve your needs and those of your business.
Step two, build out a detailed blueprint for your book.
Now this too, you'll notice is no different than what you would do if you didn't have existing content to pull from. And this is the step most content producers skip when trying to save time writing a book, to their peril. Episode seven covers book blueprints in detail, so go back and give it a listen, if you haven't already.
But a book blueprint is a very detailed outline of your book and with focus, you can easily build yours in a day. And it's what gives you a clear chapter by chapter plan of exactly what topics and subtopics you'll cover in your book.
Now, the lens you take when building your blueprint, is that planning out the topics or themes or steps that you need to cover for your reader to answer your book's central question.
And this is important. It's what will save you from creating a disjointed mish-mash of disparate topics, masquerading as a book. Because once you flesh out the detail of each chapter and each subtopic now, and only now, are you ready to move on to the next step.
Step three, identify existing content to pull into your book.
Finally here's where all your previous efforts start to pay dividends in writing your book. Because you've now plotted out the topical journey your book will take your reader on, your job now is simply to mine your existing content for articles, videos, episodes, even emails, social media posts, presentations, for content that covers each of the topics in your book blueprint.
Now, usually a piece of content won't be an exact fit, but that's okay. You'll have to come back through and adapt it anyway, so for now, simply identifying existing content that covers a topic is going to save you having to write it from.
And the other benefit of doing this is that it makes sure that the perspective you're sharing on the topic is consistent with what you've shared elsewhere.
For written content. It's pretty easy to just copy paste it into your document, less so for video and audio. But the easiest way to deal with this is to have the content transcribed using one of the many online transcription services, like Rev.com, Descript or Otter, for example, and then paste the transcripts into the relevant place in your outline.
Now how far this will get you depends on two things. One, how extensive your content library, and two, how closely your book's central question aligns with content you've already created. Invariably though, you'll end up with some gaps and that's fine because we'll deal with that in step four.
Step four, fill the gaps.
Look, it would be nice if you could pull existing content as a starting point for every topic in your book, but that rarely if ever happens.
Instead, you're going to be left with a good number of topics that you'll need to write content for from scratch. But this too is an opportunity.
If you're already in the habit of creating content for another platform like YouTube or a podcast, then you can use these gaps as inputs for your content production calendar.
So, in your book, blueprint, sketch out the key points you need to cover within each gap topic, and then use those prompts to create your video, audio, or article.
At the same time, you can flesh out the detail for your book and by the time you're through, you'll have filled all those gaps in your book outline. But there's one more step to this business of drafting your manuscript from existing content.
Step five, clean it up.
Leveraging your library of content will have saved you a ton of time, but don't make the mistake of thinking that a simple copy paste is all that's needed. Even if the macro topics are well thought through, the content you've pulled in needs to be reviewed, revised and adapted.
Because look, there's going to be some parts that are irrelevant. Other parts that are too detailed or not detailed enough. You'll likely need to adapt intro and summary paragraphs, write some transitions and add in more stories and so on.
Now at this stage, you could even bring in an editor for a partial ghost write if you don't want to be bothered cleaning it up yourself. But even if you do hold the pen, it's a whole lot easier when you're not starting from square one.
And also, know this, once you've finished your work on your first draft, then it's ready for professional editing, where it will go through a metamorphosis to elevate it to its best possible self, retaining all the core concepts and ideas that you planned out at the very beginning.
So, if you're a blogger, YouTuber or podcast host with tons of quality content, well, your path to authorship may not be nearly as long as you might think.
If you hope to leverage your existing vault of content to fast track your book manuscript, remember this - the first step to writing a great book always is deciding who your ideal reader is and what central question your book will answer for them. From there, planning out a detailed book blueprint will make certain you're delivering for your readers and answering that central question they have about your subject.
With deep knowledge of the topics and subtopics you need to cover, you're now free to tap your existing content of videos, articles, transcripts, and more to quickly get the bulk of your manuscript written.
Finally plug any gaps that you don't yet have content for by drafting content on those missing topics. You'll be able to use those both for your book and for your other media platforms and channels.
Now is the time, time to write time to publish and time to grow.
I'm Scott MacMillan. Until next time.