A few nights back, I met up with one of my favorite bloggers and favorite people, Tolly Mosely from Austin Eavesdropper.
Amidst talking about blogging and writing, we spoke about blogs that have turned their subject matters into books. I was familiar with a few blogs-turned-books, but began wondering how many blogs out their have landed the coveted book deal.
Quite a lot actually.
Do you ever think of turning your blog into a book? I sometimes do, but I’m not a Mormon, or a Mom, I’m not crazy (anymore), I have all four limbs and I COULD GIVE A FLYING RAT’S ASS ABOUT FASHION, HOME DESIGN AND DRESSING LITTLE CHILDREN IN OLD-TIMEY OUTFITS. In other words, I don’t have a hook. I’m part of the largest demographic of bloggers out there- twenty-something females- and the most interesting thing that has ever happened to me is that Jeremy Irons once mistakenly hit on me.
(I also can’t write good.)
The key is having a hook.
So, we know that blogs like Awkward Family Photos, Stuff on My Cat and I Can Has Cheezburger? are sure-fire ways of landing a book deal, but what about personal bloggers? Do they land book deals?
And sometimes their writing is not that much better than ours (and sometimes they’re MORE AWESOME THAN WE CAN EVER HOPE TO BE).
What I’ve learned from the blogs below is that in order for your blog to land a book deal you need:
- To be funny as shit
- Already have an established career in an arts field with lots of contacts
- Beautiful photographs and beautiful people
- Right place at the right time
Blog– The Bloggess/ Book– Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
Who: Fans of The Bloggess writer, Jenny Lawson, can not get even more of her neurotic life musings with her “11-year in the making” and “mostly true memoir”, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.
Why: This is not your typical example of blog-turned book. I imagine the writer was working on her memoir well before the blog was ever created. However, becoming an Internet celeb doesn’t hurt in landing you a good book deal.
About: When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.
Blog– Hyperbole and a Half/ Book– TBD
Who: One of writer/cartoonist Allie Brosh’s last posts on Hyperbole and a Half was that she was offered a book deal. Things have been quiet since, but hopefully she’s milling away at her first book.
Why: Allie’s book deal came directly from the blog and fast. I still remember when she and I both started on 20-Something Bloggers and chit chatted. Then one day- KA-BAM!- her blog took off. Her book deal happened in less than two years of blogging.
About: Touchstone (a division of Simon & Schuster) will tentatively release my book in Fall 2012, which sounds like it’s a long time away, but really, it’s only the gestation period of two slightly premature babies. And if you’re a time-traveler, then it can be as soon as you want it to be. It can be now!
Blog– 1,001 Rules for My Unborn Son/ Book– 1,000 Rules for my Unborn Son
Who: This cute blog is about soon-to-be-father, Walker Lamond’s, rules for his unborn son (who I imagine is no longer unborn). Nothing like getting straight to the point in the title of your blog.
Why: This blog proves that not only do people love lists, but that there is a lot of potential working on Tumblr. However, it probably doesn’t hurt that Lamond is also a TV producer.
About: Boys need rules. One man’s instructions for raising a thoughtful, adventurous, honest, hardworking, self-reliant, well-dressed, well-read, well-mannered young gentleman.
Blog– The Sartorialist/ Book– The Sartorialist
Who: Photographer Scott Schuman’s striking street style photos of beautiful people that make you feel significantly inferior. Not really a personal blog, but a personal hobby.
Why: Beautiful photographs, beautiful people, exotic locales. Why wouldn’t this blog get a book deal? This one is a no brainer as to why, but Schuman also had history in the fashion world.
About: Scott Schuman just wanted to take photographs of people on the street who looked great. His now famous blog (‘the bellwether American site that turned photo blogging into an art form’ – “New York Times”) was an attempt to showcase the wonderful and varied sartorial tastes of real people – not only those of the fashion industry. The book is a beautiful anthology of Scott’s favourite shots from around the world. From the streets of Rio to Bejing, Stockholm to Milan, these are the people that have inspired Scott and in turn, inspired designers and people of all ages, wages and nationalities with an interest in fashion.
Blog– Save Karyn/ Book– Save Karyn
Who: The Save Karyn blog was initially New Yorker Karyn Bosnak’s story of losing her job and spiralling into debt. With the help of readers’ donations, she was able to pay off her debt and subsequently write a book. She’s also written other books that look like Chick Lit novels.
Why: Bosnak’s blog stemmed from losing her job after 9/11 and wrote her book in 2003. I’m guessing that the media was still hung up on “Sex in the City” style blogs at this time and she was writing the right stuff at the right time. Nowadays I’d find it hard to believe that a blog like this could break through from the others like it.
About: What would you do if you owed $20,000? Would you: a) Not tell your parents? b) Stop colouring your hair, having pedicures and buying Gucci? c) Start your own website that asks for money without apology? If you were Karyn Bosnak, you’d do all three…In New York for the first time, with the dream job and the smart flat, Karyn starts spending…and spending. But when it all goes horribly wrong, and her credit card balance mounts in a terrifying manner, Karyn knows that she has to take control. She starts her website www.savekaryn.com on which she fearlessly asks for donations to help pay off her debts. The website receives over 2 million hits and has replies from all over the world – some supportive, many abusive. But after four months, Karyn has become a new woman- debt-free, grateful and happy.
One day, one day… There are a lot of stories I haven’t put on my blog because I’m “saving” them for a book, when I finally start writing it.
I agree with your take on things here. It helps to have a great platform and timing (not to mention talent!) has a lot to do with it.
Although my goal is to finish my book about my adventues as a stripper in Waikiki for ten years (and I blog about it often), I don’t want to turn my blog in to a book (but applaud anyone who does!).
My blog is more of a way to build my platform and keep myself writing daily, or try to. Plus, I adore everyone I’ve met in the Blogsphere.
Jeremy Irons?! Chicka chicka yeeeah.
I’m all kinds of blushy that you included me here.
“Do you ever think of turning your blog into a book? I sometimes do, but I’m not a Mormon, or a Mom, I’m not crazy (anymore), I have all four limbs and I COULD GIVE A FLYING RAT’S ASS ABOUT FASHION, HOME DESIGN AND DRESSING LITTLE CHILDREN IN OLD-TIMEY OUTFITS”.
Thank you for this sentence. Two sentences, I mean.
I am currently already in line at Book People for Jenny’s book signing. They don’t love the fact that I’m sleeping there every night but I’ll be damned if I’m not first in line!!
1) Tell a good story
2) Write well
I adore The Bloggess. I adore her enough that if we were both together in a social setting, and I had cake and she didn’t…I would share.
That’s a big deal.
Oh wow. That is big. I’m so bad at sharing food. Particularly pickles. They’re my favorite thing on the planet.
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