Blog to Book Networks: The New Book Publishers?

When considering how book publishers might operate in the future, I think the blog network offers one potentially viable business model.

Blog Network GraphThere are numerous blog networks and most are still in their infancy.  Like any nascent business, they are struggling with their identity and finding the right business model.  Many blog networks are essentially online magazines, supported by advertising revenues.  There has been lots of “turnover,” with many blog networks going out of business.  There has also been extensive controversy over how to recruit and compensate blog writers.  But in the seeds of the failures, there is the potential for a new form of book publisher.  Here is a vision of what this new publishing house might look like.

  • The publisher sets up a blog network with a strong topic focus.
  • The publisher provides blog marketing and management services to help the writer develop and monitor readership.
  • Writers are recruited who can contribute to specific aspects of the general topic area in a complementary fashion.  The idea is to track audience growth and interest, and then repurpose the content into books and related products.  
  • Writers are encouraged to share information and publish collaboratiely.
  • Writer are paid a percentage of all revenues derived from the content; the percentages may be tiered so that revenue growth isn’t capped. 
  • The publisher provides blog to book services – editorial / design / marketing – at the point where there is sufficient audience and the right content to go from blog to book.  The publisher may draw content from several blog writers.  The publisher has the analytics to see where the content “hot spots” are and the ability to quickly get a book to market to take advantage of this knowledge.
  • The publisher may market the book initially in non-traditional venues and then perhaps co-pubish a title with a larger traditional publisher to get into wider distribution once it has found its market.

The goal would be to build a blog network with a tight content focus, and the ability to produce a greater number of books with a higher probability of success than traditional publishing houses, and at the same time provide some compensation to their writers while they are developing content.  This might be an attractie strategy for a smaller, established traditional publisher looking to reduce expenses while increasing title throughput. 

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