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    Home Columns

    Producing a Book from Your Columns

    A writer at a workshop mentioned, "Your columns shouldn't be the end result but rather the beginning...of a book."

    She explained that the day trip columns she'd written for her local newspaper eventually became a travel book that sold quite well in her state.

    This started me thinking about doing the same with some of the columns and articles I wrote. As a result, I've published a collection of columns and articles on Alzheimer's, "When We Become the Parent to Our Parents."

    I also write or have written columns on cooking, antiques and collectibles, gardening, refunding and using coupons for shopping, the history of our state. These, too, are the material for future books.

    In fact, I'm expanding upon the cooking columns and writing, "Tales From a Country Kitchen," based on my columns and experiences as a cooking columnist. The columns about New Hampshire (USA) history will be ideal for teachers who mustinclude the state history in their curriculum.

    By starting out with previously published work (you also can collect short stories, poetry, children's stories, and essays into books), you lend credibility to your book. Also, you save time over having to come up with completely new material.Then in your next book you can use unpublished work.

    Check List for Turning Columns Into a Book

    Look through the writing you've done and are doing.

    • Does it lend itself to a book on a particular topic? Or is your column about too many different topics? (For instance, I couldn't put together a book using the people, places, events column I wrote as a newspaper reporter. These columns are about many different subjects and would be of interest mainly at the time of publication, not years afterwards.)

    • Do you have a market for your columns in book form? In other words, do you have a readership that would be interested in your book? Would your book of columns appeal to people other than your column readers?

    • Do you speak to groups whose members would be interested in your book?

    • Is there a niche market where you could send publicity? In the case of my book, I found that caregiver support groups, nursing home administrators, doctors who treated Alzheimer's patients, and nursing home staff were all interested.

    • If the book lends itself to self-publishing, do you have the money to publish a book? If not, perhaps the publisher of the newspaper where your column appears would be willing to help finance and promote it. (However, be sure the copyright stays in your name and that you have retained the rights to your columns in the first place.)

    • Are you willing to help promote the book by giving talks and doing book signings?

    Many writers have produced books from their columns and article series, either as self-published books or ones a royalty publisher was interested in. Today there also is the whole e-book world to consider when self-publishing your work or seeking a publisher. Look at your writing and see if yours would make a great book.

    Copyright © 2001 Mary Emma Allen

    Mary Emma Allen is a journalist, columnist, children's writer and book author. Her many publications are listed on her Web site --

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

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