The Naked Author – Tales of the Blooksphere

Declan Burke

Declan Burke

Despite commentator hand wringing over the advisability and viability of blog to book projects, the practice continues to grow and evolve.  An example of the blog novel was reported in the Sigla blog and featured the writings of Declan Burke, an Irish crime story writer who has both online and offline.  His current crime novel, Gonzo Noir, can be found at its own site or excerpted on his site.  His second novel, The Big O, has recently been published by Harcourt in the United States. 

Beckett Gladney

Beckett Gladney

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

A different sort of blog novel project is a graphic novel being developed by Beckett Gladney and Deborah Ridpath Ohi.  The originated after Ms. Ridpath Ohi, who had written some young adult novels that took place in a town called Curiosity, decided to turn these into graphic novels instead.  She recruited Ms. Gladney to create the artwork.  Their blog, named Curiosity, features sketches, plot synopsis, writing samples, and a running commentary about the novel’s progress as well as research about the comic / graphic novel industry.

Some writers use their blog not only to publish sample book content, but also as a research vehicle for the book that is based on the blog.  An article in Computerworld describes a project by two authors, Gregg Taylor and Lori Thiessen, writing about the new group of nomadic workers operating from venues like Starbucks.  The book and the blog are both called Coffee Shop Office.  The blog site will data for both blog and book.

And some blog to book projects are the stuff of Hollywood.  Consider the recent New York Times article, Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal, about a book deal between Random House and Christian Lander.  In January, Lander started a blog called Stuff White People Like.  Here is the description of how the deal progressed:

Readers discover stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com, like it and forward links to their friends, who forward them to lots more friends. Newspaper columnists mention it, stealing – er, quoting – some of the better jokes. By the end of February, the NPR program “Talk of the Nation” runs a report on it, debating whether the site is racist or satire.

And then on March 20 Random House announces that it has purchased the rights to a book by the blog’s founder, Christian Lander, an Internet copy writer. The price, according to a source familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss the total, was about $300,000, a sum that many in the publishing and blogging communities believe is an astronomical amount for a book spawned from a blog, written by a previously unpublished author.

Gina Trapani

Gina Trapani

One of the early pioneers of blog to book writing was Gina Trapani of the popular LIfehackerblog.  In chrnoicling her own experience of writing the book Lifehacker, based in part upon her blog, she encouraged both bloggers and book authors to explore this new form of book writing: 

There’s a world of difference between being a blogger and a book author, but more writers are wearing both hats these days. It’s not surprising that pro writers are becoming bloggers, but “amateur” bloggers getting book deals are turning heads online and off.

If you’ve got a book in you, a blog could be just the stepping stone you need toward your first deal. More than ever before, literary agents are paying attention to quality weblogs, and publishers are looking for someone with writing chops and a fresh take on a topic.

More recently, Ms. Trapani blogged about a site called WEBook.  WEBook is a new direction in public writing. which provides a kind of “writers’ ” lounge where authors can showcase their projects and have visitors vote

But the skeptics abound.  Gawkerrecently featured a blog post asserting that people who read blogs, peopole who read books and people who buy books based on blogs are two mostly non-overlapping audiences; thus implying publishers would be foolhardy to project big book sales based solely on a successful blog.  The post features the author’s list of probable wins and probable misses (including Gawker’s own blog to book project). 

The Gawker posts make a good point; blogs are different than books and not all content translates seamlessly betweent these two media.  It seems we are destined to re-learn that lesson with every new medium that comes along.


 

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