How to Turn Your Book into an Online Course

books online courses Sep 22, 2018

Do you have a business book published or one in the making?

Have you got a manuscript that you have finished but never got around to actually publishing it? Would you like to generate extra income from the content of your business book?

Well in this post I share with you some advice on how to take your business book and turn it into an online course and use this to generate extra income.

Creating a course is a way of “repurposing content”, to recycle something already written in a different format so that you can squeeze additional income out of the same piece of work. 

If done well it can be highly profitable for the author.

There are numerous ways to repurpose your book content and build upon your expertise and experience. For example:

  • Selling related services.
  • Selling software relevant to the topic including apps.
  • Consulting / Coaching on the topic of your book.
  • Speaking at events.
  • Facilitating workshops on your book's topic.
  • Creating and selling an online course.

All of these are ways to develop further income off the back of your book.

But creating and selling an online course is by far the fastest and most scalable approach to generating extra income from your book's content.

And the great thing is that it doesn’t rely on your personal time in the same way that offering services, consulting, and speaking does. You don't need to be there in person to make the sale or deliver the service.

Why Authors Create Online Courses From Their Books

Online courses are the top medium for learning today. 95% of all US universities offer some type of online learning.

Forbes projected that online learning will soon be a $107 billion/year industry. It is growing rapidly and will continue to steadily rise for the foreseeable future.

For the business book author, there are three key reasons why it makes sense to repurpose your book and create an online course from it.

  1. It's a profitable revenue stream.
  2. It positions you further as a subject expert.
  3. It adds value to the readers of your books.


As an author, you’ll make more money per course than per book. So it’s a great additional income stream, that could easily end up eclipsing your book sales.

Financial Incentives to Creating Books and Courses

OK, let's look at some basic numbers to give you an idea of the impact of offering courses alongside your book.

These are simply to illustrate the point. I have no idea what your personal book sales are so please use the logic here to apply to your own situation.

  1. Let’s say you get 3,000 downloads from your book upon its launch.
  2. Then afterwards 500 are sold per month.
  3. Let's assume that 20% of those book purchasers also check out the link mentioned in your book that promotes your course (read later in the post for ideas on how to do this.)
  4. Assume 50% of the people who visit the link submit their email address to get access to some free additional materials related to the content of your book.
  5. And then from that list, 10% go on to purchase your course.

The benefits are:

  • You have 300 more people added to your email list at launch.
  • Plus you have 100 more people per month added to your email list.
  • 30 people buy your course during the book launch.
  • 5 more people buy each month.
  • If your course is priced at £299 ($390), then that is almost £27,000 ($35,000) in additional revenue in the first year and then £1500 ($2000) per month thereafter.

Use the book to power your course sales. Use the content you've already created for your book as the key materials for your course. Can you see how re-purposing can be so rewarding for you?

Use the spreadsheet below to play with the numbers and vary the assumptions based on your own data. You can download the spreadsheet too.

What You Should Try to Achieve When You Create Courses

The goal of online learning is to create short online courses that deliver just-in-time learning or micro-learning. Of course, you're going to find masterclass programs like our own one on our course platform for fashion subject experts, which teaches how to earn extra income from creating your own online courses. You will even see full degree programs from universities, but the majority of courses are shorter with fewer lessons.

Your aim as an author re-purposing your book is to provide your students with nothing more than what they need to achieve their transformation. Surplus content gets in the way.

Making your course very specific and outcome-oriented is key to successful student engagement and learning. It will inevitably require that some of your book's content never gets used. I know. I know. You sweated for hours and burnt the midnight oil to get everything into the book. 

But your students don't want to know how deep your knowledge is.

They aren't thinking about you. They're thinking about their issues.

Drop the surplus and then make sure the remaining parts of your book get treated with techniques to bring the material alive and deliver it as learning material.

Don't think of regurgitating the content of your book simply as an online version of the same material. See your aim as using your book's selected content to deliver a transformation for the student.

OK, but why would someone buy both the book and the course?

That's a great question.

Before we look at some tips on how to create your course from your book it's worth taking a moment or two to consider the differences between a book and course and why a student would be prepared to buy both.

10 Differences Between a Book and an Online Course

  1. Traditional paper books are not interactive. It's difficult to make a non-fiction subject come alive with just words and the odd picture.
  2. Books don't allow engagement between the student and the author whereas an online course can.
  3. Books are difficult and costly to update and they quickly become out of date whereas courses can be modified very quickly and cheaply so the material can always include your latest information.
  4. It's difficult for a book to offer additional resources such as templates, worksheets, and other downloadable resources. But this is easy to do with your course.
  5. Books might be convenient and handy but so too can online courses that can be taken on any device from computers to tablets to phones.
  6. It takes a lot of effort to apply what you learn in a book whereas an online course can deliver easier transformations and the application of what's been learned.
  7. You can learn "handless" with an online course (while washing dishes, eating, walking, running etc...) by listening to the instructor.
  8. Great courses are built around learners, books normally aren't. Normally with a course, you find out what your learners want to learn. You pre-sell the course to your mailing list, you run a beta test and get their input. You engage with the testers to make changes based on their feedback, etc. When done well, your audience is very engaged during the creation of your online course. This doesn't usually happen with book authoring so with a course the material is far more relevant for the audience.
  9. Even if the book does give you activities to do to help you learn topics, there is never any feedback between the reader and the author,  there can be with courses.
  10. Books are passive, courses are dynamic and are therefore far more likely to engage and keep the student's attention. For example, consider the difference between watching the video below compared to reading about the topic in a book



How to Build an Online Course From a Book or a Manuscript

The very fact that you have taken the time and effort to write a book on your topic suggests that you have what it takes to be a successful course creator. You've already cleverly articulated your knowledge of a topic, you have tenacity and self-motivation, persistence and the ability to try new approaches to generating income in your life.

These are all excellent qualities that will help you plan and develop your first course.

Thankfully you don't have to have a Ph.D. or be officially recognised by your industry as the go-to “expert” to create a course.  Truly, all you need to do is bring together relevant and valuable information and then present it to your students in an engaging way that helps them achieve their goals, overcome their challenges or remove the issues and pains they are facing.


OK so here are some general tips when creating your course.

  1. Work in bite-size chunks of content. Keep in mind that people are busy so break down your modules into bite-size chunks for easy consumption. Your book chapters can be considered as modules of the course, to begin with, so that will give you a sense of the overall course structure. Each module should bring people through a major transformation milestone on their journey. But maybe a single chapter could be a course on its own so be prepared to chunk things down.

  2. Begin with a smaller course of say three to six modules long, with each module offering four to five video lessons. Keep videos ideally between five to ten minutes long MAXIMUM. Any longer and theirs a risk you’ll lose your audience’s attention altogether. 

  3. Choose your course format. There are many ways to build a course. You can build a text-based course, a video-based course that focuses on live filming, or on recording your screen while you teach someone to program, or by recording slides as you teach. Don't be afraid of mixing it up to add variety and help keep engagement levels high. 
  4. Turn the manuscript into a course script. This means cutting out the surplus material and changing the overall feel of the content so that you get to the heart of the learning as quickly as possible. Background information which is relevant for the book may not be as relevant for the narrow focus of your course.

  5. Turn the script into a slide plan. The slide plan is an overall plan of the key points that you want to cover in your course. Take your script and then pull out the key messages that you want to communicate with your student. Write these down as slide headings.

  6. Turn the slide plan into a slide deck. Now create your slide deck following your slide plan. Create a slide template that you like, then customize the slides to match your slide plan. Or better yet, outsource this process to a professional.

    Each slide in the plan should have no more than three bullet points per slide and for good measure no more than 7 words per bullet point. This keeps the slides clean and uncluttered. It's better to have more slides with less content per slide. It makes for a more engaging presentation.

  7. Record the scripts as an audio file. Sit down and read your script as enthusiastically as possible with energy and variety in your voice.

  8. Combine the slides and audio file into a video file. This is best done by a professional for speed, accuracy, and quality. It's well worth the investment in professional editing.

  9. Add extra materials and learning resources. Things like PDFs, check-lists, aide memoirs, expert interviews, templates, spreadsheets etc. Always be thinking about how you can help the student apply what they have learned.

  10. Clean up, edit and structure everything into a finalized course. Keep all your files well organized. Review everything through the eyes of the student so that you have a logical flow of content and resources. Tidy everything up and get ready to upload your course to your favourite platform.

  11. Upload the course to your course platform. We use Kajabi. It's the ultimate in an all-in-one, course creation, hosting, website and blog platform package. But there are numerous options available and if you want the simplest option of all then take a look at our done-4-you service where we develop your course for you.

Promoting Your Course Within Your Book

Obviously, with your book going into circulation it makes sense to promote your course within the book itself. I've seen this done in several ways.

  • Print a link to your course within the book's pages at the beginning of the front-matter, somewhere near the middle and then in the resources section at the end.
  • Directing readers to a landing page or mini website which offers them additional resources and downloads for free once they've submitted their email address. You then add them to a follow-up sequence that introduces them to the course and shares the benefits of purchasing and following the course.
  • Using QR codes within the book as a more interactive way to get readers to visit your promo page.
  • Offering the course and the book as a bundle to purchase.

Next Steps

If you'd like to explore the opportunities further for turning your book into your own online course then email [email protected] and ask your questions.

Schedule a Free Discovery Call

Looking to pivot your coaching or training business to generate 100% of your revenue from online delivery? Then contact us to schedule a free 30 minute discovery call to explore how we can help you make it happen.


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