Journaling a Book as a Reader ‘Extra’

Photo of a woman's hands on a notebook....her right hand clasps a pen. The post title, "Journaling a Book as an Extra" is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I’d been hearing that author notes could be a nice website ‘extra’ for readers or newsletter subscribers, or serve as promo copy on the product page for Amazon.

I’d experimented a little  in my newsletters and on Amazon, but decided to take things a little farther this time.  I decided to try journaling a book while I wrote it.  I posted the journal on Google Docs, shared it so that anyone with the link could view it, and mentioned the journal on my website.

At first, I was a little worried.  Writers’ lives aren’t the most interesting and was the writing process really going to draw readers in?  Especially mine?  I’m very routine-driven.  Writing at 5 a.m. isn’t maybe the most fascinating thing in the world.

But then I became a little more observant about what was going on around me while I was writing.  How was I managing distractions? How focused was I on the story? When and where was I getting my ideas?  And I found that there were stories around the story.

I don’t give any major spoilers, just hint at some of what’s going on in the story that I’m writing.  That can naturally lead into the genesis of the characters and how I feel about them.  Who or what helped to inspire their creation.  The origination of the supposedly fictional settings (that have a lot in common with real locations).

We can add images from the web, personal photos, links, and other things to make the journal more visually interesting.

I decided to pin the link to my journal at the top of my Facebook page.  From there, it generated a lot of interest and readers reached.  My post read: “What goes through a writer’s mind while working on a book? It can be surprising.  Follow along as I write the next Myrtle Clover mystery,  A Body in the Trunk.”

It’s also nice to post it on Facebook because readers can comment there.  I disabled comments for the document on Google Docs, because I had the feeling it would turn into a real mess….comments are really intended for edits between project partners and are inline there.  I’d say that the lack of ability to host comments is the only real problem I see with putting the journal on Google Docs. You could, of course, set up a similar journaling project on your blog—each entry could engender comments.

Do you use author notes?  Journal books?  What ‘extras’ do you include for readers?

Photo via Visual hunt

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24 thoughts on “Journaling a Book as a Reader ‘Extra’

    1. You know, I have the feeling that readers might not *expect* our lives to be exciting. Or that maybe it depends on the genre. I might expect Lee Childs’s life to be exciting, but probably not most writers…we’re just so introspective and observant that maybe we move through life slower. My most exciting entry so far is when I hurt my back. :)

      I think a way to make the journal more interesting is by adding pictures and including our character and setting inspirations. I’ve reached the conclusion that periodic posts are better than daily, too.

  1. Wow, Elizabeth, this is a great idea! I’d never thought of doing that! I’ve toyed for some time with the idea of doing a newsletter, but there’s always the question of what to include (among other things). This sounds absolutely fascinating. Hmmm… for thought!

  2. What a neat idea – I enjoyed that. I also saw that picture of Danielle Steel’s desk and shared it online! LOL

    1. Thank you! I love the writing life.

      Maybe we can get Diane to do this! I have a feeling she’s slammed until January (putting together an anthology, among everything else), but maybe next year? Diane? :)

  3. I was reading through this post and saw Skins. Wait – I grew up going to Skins! Then I saw McCants – I went to McCants! (Although that was long before they replaced the windows. It was much creepier back then.) I’m not sure what the difference is in our age, but we shared an old stomping ground! Thank you for sharing this idea. I might give it a try one day.

  4. Love the title. Always a little afraid of trunks (both types … Detroit is nearby). Had a creepy old trunk in the attic of a house we bought … empty though. Thankfully.

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