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in Start

How Blogging Got Me a Book Deal with the For Dummies Brand

This is a Guest Post by Ali Luke who runs intermediate blogging training in London for bloggers who want to grow their online network through great content and great connections. She also runs an introductory course for brand-new bloggers.

In November 2011, I checked into a motel in LA a couple of days ahead of BlogWorld (now New Media Expo). I had a bit of down-time, and caught up with emails, hunched over my teeny-tiny netbook.

One message caught my eye. It was from an editor at Wiley (the lovely Amy Fandrei), asking if I’d like to write a proposal for a For Dummies book on ebooks.

I read the email with a sense of disbelief … and then excitement.

Ten months later, in September 2012, my book Publishing E-Books For Dummies hit stores worldwide.

So how did I get there?

This Wasn’t a Straightforward Path

Let’s rewind to the very beginning of 2008, when I launched my first attempt at a “pro” blog. (The embarrassingly bad diary-style blog I kept in my late teens has been firmly eradicated from the internet.)

I started off knowing no-one in the blogging world. And while I eventually abandoned that first blog, and a second blog, I learnt a lot along the way – like which blogging platform to use, how to plan and structure posts, and why I should write evergreen content.

If you’re starting out in blogging, the best thing I can recommend is to seize all the opportunities that come your way … and don’t be shy about finding opportunities for yourself. Guest posting, for instance, was a way for me to grow my reach much faster than I’d otherwise have managed.

Also, learn as much as you can. I devoured articles on ProBlogger and Daily Blog Tips (I’ve now written quite a few posts for both these sites), and I bought ebooks and ecourses to help me go further, faster.

Keep Taking the Next Step

I like my cozy, safe comfort zone … but it was only by pushing myself beyond it that I was able to progress.

The first time I went to a blogging conference, for instance, was in March 2010 – South-by-South-West. While I was there, I met a couple of wonderful women who I’d vaguely heard of, and never really made contact with, online: Pace and Kyeli Smith.

That summer, they ran an online course for writers – their first World-Changing Writing Workshop – and asked if they could use part of one of my ebooks as a bonus. I said they could have the whole thing.

A year later, I was back at South-by-South-West, and Pace and Kyeli asked me if I’d like to be a speaker on the second World-Changing Writing Workshop. Of course, I jumped at the chance! And when I applied to speak at BlogWorld soon afterward, I pointed to that as an example of the experience I’d had.

I’ve got plenty more examples of how one little step led to another and another … but my point is that, whatever the exact steps are, the way you process is by continuing to try new things – not by just sticking with what you’re already doing.

I don’t know exactly what your next steps might look like, but here are some you might want to try:

  • Writing comments on major blogs in your niche
  • Submitting a guest post to one of your favorite blogs
  • Buying a ticket for a major conference
  • Arranging to meet up for coffee with some online friends
  • Starting an email newsletter
  • Writing your first ebook

Where Will Blogging Take You?

I can’t promise that you’ll get a book deal, of course. But all my experience shows that blogging is a wonderful way to increase your chances of being in the right place at the right time.

The more connected you are, the more chances you have for amazing opportunities to come to you.

Of course, there’ll be times when you’re afraid to take a particular step. You might think you’re not ready – or that you somehow need permission. When I was a new blogger, I thought “I’ll know I’ve ‘made it’ when I can go to conferences.” It took me two years to realize that I didn’t need anyone’s permission to attend a conference … I could just book a ticket and go!

Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait until you’re ready. Pick your next step today – even if it scares you a little – and take a big stride forward. You never know what it might lead to.