If you’re a podcaster, you might have never considered writing a book. You may have decided that writing a book is too much work. You may have been putting it off, thinking that it would take too much time. You may have concluded that as a podcaster, you aren’t a good writer.
But what if your content available in a different medium could dramatically benefit your podcast by giving you additional credibility and expanding your reach? And what if writing a book isn’t as difficult as you think?
Well, if you’re a podcaster with an archive of at least a few dozen episodes, congratulations! It’s possible that the majority of your brand new book might already be written! How can that be?
You can turn your podcast into a book! This is a great way to give yourself a head start. You already have high-quality content to work with—you just need to adapt it into a new format.
Here’s a step-by-step guide covering all 11 stages that will take you from being a podcaster to being a published author. Along the way, we’ll share strategies that can help maximize your book’s potential income.
The following important steps are covered below:
- Turn the best episodes from your podcast into a manuscript;
- Edit your manuscript;
- Create an e-book version;
- Create a paperback version for Amazon KDP print on demand;
- Create a hardcover version for IngramSpark print on demand;
- Buy your ISBNs;
- Get a cover design for all formats;
- Write a compelling book description to boost sales;
- Create an audiobook recording of your book;
- Launch your book on all major platforms;
- Market your book.
Step 1—Turn the best episodes from your podcast into a manuscript
The first step to turn your podcast into a book is to choose which episodes you’ll adapt into this new format.
If you run an interview-only podcast, you may select some of the best conversations you’ve had and transcribe the most valuable answers. If you have an archive of solo episodes, these would work even better in a book format. Since it’s just you talking, they’re easier to turn in a book compared to a conversation that requires more rewriting.
There are two basic approaches you can follow to turn your podcast into a book:
Option 1—Repurpose your episodes as book chapters
This is a fast way of getting your manuscript ready to go. For some podcasts, such as with daily inspirational thoughts where each episode follows the same general structure, this option might be all you have to do. You can transcribe your episodes chronologically or pick the best ones for your “best of” collection. With interviews, you might try to focus on the most powerful tidbits and publish a book that condenses the most important lessons you’ve learned from your guests.
However, for many podcasts, this approach will create a book that’s disjointed. It might read more like a collection of essays. A book like that is not for everyone. Moreover, you will probably be limited to a lower sale price, since your new book is just the same content as your podcast, without any additional value.
Option 2—Edit and reorganize the episodes into a cohesive book
The second approach is to edit and reorganize the podcasts so that they come together as a cohesive book that makes sense. You think of sections, chapters, and subchapters and then choose which episodes can form them. Instead of simply turning every episode into a separate chapter like in the first option, you reorganize them to provide a more step-by-step reading experience.
This option provides more value to the reader. By arranging your content in a more structured way, you save their time. You can also sell the book for a higher price. On the flip side, it can be more time-consuming. However, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are some tips for how to do this easily and well:
- Take a step back from your podcast to understand and internalize the core message of what you’ve been communicating through it. What is one unifying point that will draw your episodes together? What are the key takeaways you can identify after reviewing your podcast archive?
- Think of a problem you want to solve with your book. You don’t have to use all of your podcast episodes for this. Perhaps you will only use episodes from one theme or one type. (This also opens up the possibility that your podcast could become several books, each about a specific problem you want to solve.)
- Organize the material from the podcast into a book that lays out your message using titles of the episodes or for a more detailed outline, their descriptions.
Transcribe your podcast. The easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to transcribe your episodes is to use AI-powered transcription services like Descript or Sonix. These tools provide 90%+ accuracy which is sufficient to begin turning your podcast into a book.
Take longer episode transcriptions and turn them into shorter, more condensed ones that stick closely to your core message. Don’t be afraid to remove unnecessary words, sentences, or even the majority of the episode if you don’t feel it works well in a text format.
- Remove references to current events or other “aside” commentary (including podcast announcements) that was only relevant at the time of recording the episode. A book should be as evergreen as possible.
- Edit your writing for simplicity and readability. You can do the first pass of edits yourself, using online tools such as Hemingway or Grammarly.
Step 2—Edit your manuscript professionally
In the same way as you need a sound engineer to polish your podcast episodes, you need a professional editor to make sure that your manuscript is polished and error-free.
If you’re going to publish a book, you want it to be taken seriously. Errors that remain in the text are distracting. Even if many readers can’t spot some minor flaws, they will still walk away with the impression that your book wasn’t up to the usual standard of quality they’re used to. An editor will be able clean up both major and minor issues in your writing while maintaining your voice.
If you don’t have much experience with writing, this is the most important step of this guide. A great editor will turn your rough stone into a polished diamond.
Two main stages of edits
To get the best results, you should plan to hire a copyeditor and a proofreader.
The cost of hiring a good editor depends on the quality and length of your manuscript. Light editing will cost roughly $10-$30 per 1000 words, with more extensive editing around $50+ per 1000 words.
Final proofreading tends to be cheaper and runs roughly between $5-$20 per 1000 words.
Why you shouldn’t skip this step
A lot of people view the editing process as a hurdle or an unnecessary cost. It’s tempting to want to skip this process altogether or choose a shortcut, such as enlisting the help of a friend who is an English major to look over your draft for you.
Here are a few reasons you shouldn’t skip this step and rely on self-editing alone, no matter how good a writer you are or how understanding you think your followers are:
- You can never look objectively at your own writing. It’s hard to catch your own typos. Even people who edit for a living hire editors when they write their own books.
- You can never exceed your own skill level. A professional editor can help clarify your thoughts and take your writing to the next level.
- Your brain goes on autopilot. You already know what you wrote. No matter how carefully you try to focus, you may start skimming. And that’s when you’ll miss errors.
- You need an outside perspective on whether your book’s quality is comparable to what your target audience is expecting. If your early reviews mention sloppy editing errors like typos or inconsistencies, this can kill your book sales.
Step 3—Create the e-book version of your book in all formats
Creating an e-book version of your book means optimizing your book to be read by e-readers. Since different people own different devices, you’ll want to release your book on all possible platforms in order to be available to the maximum number of readers. Different devices use different file formats. There are two versions that you’ll want to create.
.mobi version for Kindle
Amazon first released the Kindle reader in 2007, and the Kindle app has been around since 2009, making Kindle a popular option for readers on smartphones and even desktop computers. To publish your book for Kindle, you must create a .mobi file. We suggest using a software program called Calibre to do this. It can convert your Word file into a .mobi file.
.epub version for other retailers
The .epub version is versatile and will make your book available on iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Google Play. We recommend using Sigil to prepare the .epub file. If you’re on a Mac, Vellum is a good option.
It’s not a bad idea to hire a freelancer to convert your manuscript to all the different file formats. You can usually find this service for $100-$300+, depending on the book’s length. A professional book formatter will make sure that your book looks good and works properly on all devices. The results of doing it yourself might not be up to par.
Step 4—Create the paperback version for Amazon KDP print on demand
Even if most of your sales will come from the digital version of your book, it still makes sense to invest in creating the paperback version.
We recommend going with Amazon KDP print on demand for your paperback. It’s the most important marketplace and the easiest way to sell your paperback. You don’t want any middlemen between you and Amazon, considering that Amazon will likely generate most of your income.
Why should you release a paperback?
Some people will tell you that print books are dead and there’s no reason to release more than an e-book. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are 9 reasons why releasing your book in print is still a very smart thing to do:
- A printed version gives your book more legitimacy. Everyone can publish an e-book. A paperback takes a bit more work and investment.
- Paperback books get you higher royalties. Paperback readers are often less price-sensitive than e-book readers. This means that you can offer your paperback for a higher price and receive a higher royalty and your readers will still buy the book. The perceived value of a book on paper is higher than that of an e-book. As digital as our lives have become, we still value things we can touch.
- Some readers are more traditional and refuse to go the e-book route. They only buy printed books. You wouldn’t want to miss out on these readers, as they are often people who are passionate book lovers.
- Paperback books can help give a reference point for the price of your e-book. This is called “price anchoring.” The price of the e-book is cheaper just because there’s a more expensive print book to compare it to.
- Paperback books give you instant credibility. It’s like a “business card” that you can hand out or sell at events and speaking gigs, such as a book launch (announced via your podcast, of course!).
- A physical version of your book gives you new marketing opportunities. You can give a box of your books to a local non-profit, a library, your favorite coffee shop, when presenting in front of an audience, and any other venue where your book might attract potential readers.
- You can access new markets with a paperback, as the book can be distributed to brick-and-mortar stores and libraries.
- Releasing your book in paperback form can help your readers retain information better. Many readers learn more effectively from a paperback in which they can scribble notes, mark pages, underline key words, or dog-ear the pages. Even if you can highlight and add notes in a digital book, it’s not the same tactile experience.
- To sum it up, you’re leaving money on the table if you only release the electronic version.
How to create a paperback version of your book
Turning an e-book into a paperback means typesetting to create a print-ready PDF. This should be done as professionally as possible. If you’ve ever opened a book and instantly knew it was self-published, you’ve encountered sloppy typesetting. Great typesetting is not easy to notice because it looks just like the bestselling books you and your potential readers are used to reading. Bad typesetting, on the other hand, can make your book stand out like the guy who shows up in shorts and flip-flops at a black-tie event.
Here are just a few of the things to take into consideration when typesetting:
- Choice of font, font size, and line spacing;
- Paper size (6 x 9 inches is common, a smaller 5 x 8 size is also an option if you want a travel-friendly format);
- Margin size;
- Placement and design of page numbers;
- Table of contents;
- Style of chapter titles and headings;
- Page header text, if any;
- Any additional graphics and decorations;
- Back matter, such as an index or glossary.
Keep in mind that a book with tables, illustrations, and other decorations is very hard to typeset without professional experience and the right tools. You can create a bare-bones version of your paperback in Word or Google Docs. For the best results you’re better off to consult a professional.
Step 5—Create the hardcover version for IngramSpark print on demand
Ingram is a wholesale book distributor that long predates Amazon. Brick-and-mortar booksellers used to order from the Ingram catalog. In those days, if your book wasn’t in Ingram, it practically didn’t exist.
IngramSpark is a program by Ingram to make this distribution available to self-published and Indie booksellers. It’s a platform to publish a printed book that also offers distribution through the global retail channels and libraries (not just Amazon). Therefore, it’s good for some diversification and not putting all your eggs in Amazon’s basket.
Why should you release a hardcover version of your book?
Creating a hardcover version of your book is a step that a lot of people skip, but there are great reasons to publish a hardcover as well:
- A hardcover edition helps booksellers take your book more seriously. Since it’s more expensive to produce than a paperback version, it signals to the reader that “This is a book that the publisher felt was worth investing in.”
- On a store shelf or window display, hardcover books help readers notice your book more than their paperback equivalent, because they’re usually larger, of higher quality, and, thus, more eye-catching.
- The hardcover edition is like the collector’s edition of your book. It’s put together through higher-quality methods and higher quality paper and ink. Avid fans and collectors will love owning the highest-quality, most durable, and beautiful version of your book.
- Having a hardcover book can further heighten the effectiveness of price anchoring. When a reader sees the higher hardcover price, the paperback and e-book versions will feel even cheaper by comparison. This can stimulate more sales of your lower-priced books, as it reduces the effect of any perceived objection of price.
- Hardcover books can also make great marketing tools. For instance, in a Kickstarter campaign, you could add “a signed hardcover book” as a giveaway item at a price point far higher than the book’s retail price.
Step 6—Buy at least two ISBNs to be able to distribute the book in paperback and hardcover
ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and it’s a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies your book. Purchasing your own ISBN registers you as the owner and publisher of the book. It also puts your book into the catalog of Books in Print and gives people a perpetual way to look up your book if they’re trying to find it.
You’ll want an ISBN for each version of your book (paperback and hardcover), so it’s a good idea to buy at least two ISBNs. Amazon will give you a free ISBN for your paperback, and you can go with that. There’s no free ISBN from IngramSpark for your hardcover, but as a general rule, it’s best to own your ISBNs. Note that e-books don’t require ISBNs, since all online retailers give them their own identifiers. (In the case of Amazon, for example, it’s called an ASIN).
The best value, when it comes to ISBNs, is to buy in bulk from Bowker. Bowker is the official ISBN Agency for publishers physically located in the United States and its territories. They sell ISBNs in packages of 1, 10, 100, or 1000. As you buy in bulk, the price for a single ISBN gets lower. For example, at the time of this writing, 1 ISBN costs $125, but 10 ISBNs cost $295 (or $29.50 each).
Step 7—Write a compelling book description to sell your book
Writing a great description for your book is an art of its own—just like writing a description of your podcast or your episodes. Done well, it can leave the reader salivating for more. Done poorly, it can kill your book’s appeal and make it seem drier than it really is. Your description will appear on the back cover, the Amazon page for the book, and in any other places where your book is highlighted, such as BookBub.
Your description will vary based on the genre and contents of your book, but here are some tips that will apply to almost any industry or niche.
- Make the biggest possible promise. What is going to hook your readers in and interest them in the book?
- Arouse the readers’ curiosity. One way to do this is through open loops. As Anton Chekhov famously said, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it must absolutely go off.” In writing your book description, open loops plant suspense and set your readers up with irresistible unanswered questions. Their brains crave “to close the loop,” but the only way to do it is to buy and read the book.
- Depict the transformation that the reader will go through. What problem does your book solve? How will the reader be different as a result of reading this book? If you’ve ever received any thank-you letters from your listeners, this might be a valuable resource to use as you write your description.
- DON’T simply list the topics the book is about (readers can see them in the table of contents).
- Show, don’t tell. Don’t merely puff up the description with adjectives that the reader will have to accept on blind trust.
- Read the descriptions of several bestselling books in your niche and reverse engineer what they are doing right and why it is working for them.
It’s worth writing an excellent sales description, as this alone can stimulate the sale of many more copies of your book. If you’re uncomfortable with this step, you can find freelancers to do it for you.
Step 8—Get a cover design for all formats
Designing a cover is an exciting step in publishing your book! Seeing your cover art will help you feel like your book is very close to being released! (remember when you first saw your podcast cover art?)
Remember the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”? Well, it’s not true. People judge a book by its cover all the time.
Therefore, you need to make sure that when they judge your book, they do so favorably.
Design principles for a great book cover
When you’re designing your cover, you want an eye-catching design that appeals to your target audience and draws the reader in.
If your cover screams “self-published,” you risk turning away a lot of readers, even if the inside contents of the book are world-class information that they can’t find anywhere else.
It is, then, a good idea to get the most professional designer you can and rely on their experience.
Do some research to form a reference point for yourself. Look at what bestselling books are doing. What do their covers look like? Look at 50 different books in your niche and get a sense of what your target readers might be responding well to.
Think of the similarities and differences between the covers you’d expect to see on 50 different business books, 50 different young-adult novels, and 50 different memoirs.
You want a cover that will stand out as appealing and interesting-looking, while still adhering to some of the basics that characterize the genre you write in. You may consider designing a cover that’s similar in style to your podcast cover art as this will help your fans recognize it’s you.
Design elements on your book cover
Your book cover isn’t just a pretty picture on the front. There are far more elements than a picture that go into your book design. Think through the following elements that you’ll want to discuss with your designer.
- Overall color scheme
- Photo or illustration?
- Font(s) used
- Placement of title and author’s name
- Inclusion/placement of a subtitle
- Inclusion/placement of a celebrity endorsement
- Inclusion/placement of a badge or award seal
- Inclusion/placement of announcements (e.g. “Bestseller” or “100,000 copies sold”)
- Look and feel of title & author’s name
- Publisher’s mark
- Overall layout
- Background color/image
- Design and placement of description
- Design and placement of author’s photo
- Design and placement of author’s bio
- Testimonials or other elements
Design formats for your book cover
You’ll need cover art for each version of your book. Remember, each type of book will have different specifications.
- E-book—You’ll want higher-resolution art with a height/width ratio of 1.6:1. The best practice is 2,700 x 1,800 pixels as the ideal dimensions for cover files.
- Paperback—A standard 6 x 9-inch book has an aspect ratio of 1.5:1. You’ll want your designer to create the full wraparound design, including the back cover and spine. You’ll need to know the width of the spine and provide the elements that go on the back cover.
- Hardcover—In addition to the front, back, and spine, if your hardcover has a dust jacket, you have additional space to add material that will help sell the book. Dimensions will vary based on the size of your book.
- Audiobook—Cover art for the audiobook version should be square (1:1 ratio). A good size is 2,400 x 2,400 pixels.
- Social media images—More than likely you’ll want to promote your book on social media. While you can simply repurpose your cover art files as social media posts, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your designer to make some posts specifically for social media.
Remember that a great book cover is the key decision that separates unsuccessful books from bestsellers. Never skimp on your cover design.
Step 9—Create an audiobook recording of your book
You’re almost ready to launch! In addition to the print version and e-book, you’ll want to maximize your revenue by offering an audiobook version. It’s a good idea to have the audiobook ready to go at the time of launch, so that you can take advantage of the early excitement that accompanies a new release.
You’ll want to prepare your audiobook for release on ACX.com. ACX is an Amazon-owned audiobook distribution company that distributes audiobooks to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. It’s a hub where your book can show up in all the places that matter.
How to turn an e-book into an audiobook
Just like in all the previous steps, quality matters. Should you record your audiobook yourself? You could… As a podcaster, you already have the skills and your fans know your voice. But if you don’t feel comfortable reading your own book, it may depress sales. Recording a book is different than recording a podcast episode. It’s a project that can take weeks, if not months, to complete. By the time you’re finished, you might hate your book! A professional narrator could help you save a lot of stress.
Many listeners who have encountered too many poorly-read audiobooks are picky about the quality of the reading. Some of these listeners make a point not to buy books read by the author, simply because they want the best listening experience possible.
In a nutshell, here’s how you can get a great quality audiobook recording.
- Find a professional narrator.
- Get them to make a high-quality recording using good equipment.
- Get the raw audio file edited to remove any mistakes and further enhance the sound. Professional narrators usually have their own teams that will take care of this process and make sure that your book follows all ACX.com quality guidelines.
- Upload the file to ACX and wait for it to go live (usually within 10-14 days).
Reasons why it makes sense to invest in an audiobook
- One in five Americans listens to audiobooks [source].
- Audiobooks generated $2.5 billion in sales in 2017 [source]. That’s a nice pie to have a slice of!
- Audiobooks, like podcasts, allow people to enjoy your content while they’re on the go. For busy people, the only “reading” time they might get is while they are driving, jogging, or otherwise occupied in ways that don’t allow them to sit down with a book.
- Audiobooks increase your book’s accessibility. Auditory learners, people with dyslexia, visually impaired people, and less literate people can all enjoy your book through the audio version.
- Audiobooks give you access to new markets. Amazon, Audible, and iTunes are three of the biggest audio platforms in the world. By offering your book in an audiobook format, you’re putting your book in front of people who otherwise might have never heard about it.
Step 10—Launch your book on all major platforms
It’s launch time! You’ve worked hard to prepare your book files. Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to upload your book on all the major platforms.
You’ll want to upload your book to:
- Amazon (for e-book and paperback)
- IngramSpark (for hardcover)
- Barnes & Noble
- Google Play
Once you have an audiobook version recorded, you’ll also want to upload your book to ACX.com, where it will be distributed through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.
Step 11—Market your book
Congratulations! You’ve turned your podcast into a book and put it out into the world. Now that you have a book for sale, you can start to reap all the fruits of your labor. However, no book will reach its full potential without effective marketing.
Marketing can be a world of its own, so we will just touch on some fundamentals here. Don’t limit yourself to just these tactics. Be creative and look for innovative ways to interest new readers in your book.
At the end of the day, marketing is about people. It’s about showing up in front of people, giving them something interesting to experience, and making it so valuable that they want to tell their friends.
It’s important that you don’t overcomplicate it—just be human, engaging, and valuable. Follow best practices where possible and watch your sales numbers respond to your efforts.
Engineer the strongest possible launch
This is by far the most important thing you can do for your book. Make sure the launch is as big as you can engineer it, as it helps your book gain traction.
Ideally, you will have started your marketing early in the process to generate excitement about your upcoming launch. On launch day, you want to have lots of excited buyers lining up to buy your book. Those initial sales numbers can boost your launch.
Strong sales on launch day and in your first week give you more traction because of how Amazon’s algorithm works. Amazon sees a new release that is making a big splash, and it suggests it to new people. That same traction and excitement is hard to get once your book is no longer new.
As a podcaster, leverage your podcast
If you’re turning a podcast into a book, you have a big advantage over the average new author. You already have an audience! Start with them.
Reach out to your email list with announcements about the book. Mention your book in your podcast episodes and emails at least a few times before you publish it. Create an opportunity for your listeners to join your list of early reviewers. Send them updates about your book and eventually an advance reader copy (ARC) to secure crucial early reviews. You don’t need to send them a physical copy. An e-book version will suffice.
As a podcaster, you probably also have relationships with other podcasters. Ask them to help you promote your book. Appear as a guest on their shows—and any other shows relevant in your niche—to promote your book.
Call in favors to get reviews and endorsements early. You want your potential buyers to see lots of favorable signals to help convince them to buy your book. One of those favorable signals is social proof, which is the idea that, if other people like something, then “I probably will, too.” Social proof can be extremely persuasive, so work hard to get as many of these signals in place as possible.
Show up in all the channels where your readers are likely to be
Get in front of potential readers with engaging content that will expose them to your book and attract their interest. You can do this in many ways. Always be aware that your priority is to cultivate a relationship. You can do that by being engaging and by standing for something. When you stand for something, you attract like-minded people who stand for the same thing.
Keep in mind that it’s close to impossible to be active everywhere. Because of that, pick the channels and media that make the most sense for your book and your audience.
Places where you can show up:
- Social media (use the power of your existing following!)
- Advertisements, including ads on BookBub, BargainBooksy, and similar book promo sites, particularly when you launch your book at $0.99
- Giveaways (NetGalley, Goodreads, Librarything)
- Niche sites, forums, discussion groups, Reddit, etc.
- Email marketing
- Your own web presence
- Your offline presence
- Stages and speaking gigs
- Book signings
Turning a podcast into a book is a really great accomplishment! It’s a wonderful way to take all the episodes that you’ve recorded over the years and create something worth reading, something you’re proud of, and something that can bring you an income stream.
If you’re looking for help to turn your podcast into a book, check out www.PublishingParrot.com, where our team is ready to do it for you!
We’ll take care of the practical steps in the process (even organizing your episodes into a unified, cohesive manuscript). You’ll enjoy a faster run from podcast to finished book since you won’t have to deal with the learning curve involved in each step.
Take advantage of our years of experience and get your podcast transformed into a book when you start this process today.