Monday, August 04, 2008

From Blogging to Book Deals

Question of the day: I have this idea that if I can get a real readership on my blog then I can use that as part of my pitch to a publisher for the book I am writing. As in "See? I already know x amount of people who loyally read and would buy my book (in hardcover, even)." Is this a completely off base train assumption?

Yes and no. I've discussed this briefly in the past (you can search the archives, but I wrote it right after the NY Times covered a $350,000 book deal for a blogger), but I'm happy to revisit. Here's the deal with bloggers and book deals - and others, please feel free to chime in with your thoughts: DO. NOT. START. A. BLOG. TO. LAND. A BOOK. DEAL. This might be one of the most fruitless and excruciating wastes of time and effort ever. Start a blog if you have something interesting and unique to offer the blogging world. Start a blog if you'd like to have an outlet for your writing. Start a blog if you want to keep your mom in the loop of your life and not have to pick up the phone to speak with her. There are a lot of reasons to start a blog - landing a book deal isn't one of them.

Why? Because, to begin with, these days, you hear about the exceptions: the few bloggers who nab these amazing deals, but you don't hear of the millions - literally millions - of other bloggers who don't. And these bloggers who DO land book deals do so because they really offer something unique that can then be turned into a book. It's not like they just package up their posts, bind them, and voila, they're published. Take, for example, Julie and Julia, in which one author chronicled her attempts to cook a Julia Child recipe every day for a year. There was a story behind the blog, and the book, which many of you might have read, wasn't just made up of blog posts - it was a memoir that chronicled Julie Powell's life transformation. This was a book with or without the blog. The blog just helped get her noticed.

So...yeah...a blog CAN get you noticed, and certainly, if you have a big enough audience - but we're talking about at least thousands of readers, which isn't an easy thing to achieve - it can help make you more attractive to a publisher. But it's really a shot in the dark...or at least a shot into cyberspace, and, in my opinion, it's not something really worth concentrating on. In some ways, taking a more traditional route - pitching, querying agents, etc - might be the easier way to land a deal. And we all know that this way ain't so easy either.

But that's just my opinion. Readers, I'm sure you have thoughts on this too. So weigh in: blogging - helpful or not in landing a book deal?


Mediainski said...

I wouldn't blog just to land a book deal because (as Allison notes) the chances of landing a book deal from a blog are remote. But I do think a blog is a great outlet for writers to express themselves. It is the one forum where you are not edited, and you can experiment with your writing, indulge your own interests and see what hits. Also, the process of writing a book, or even a magazine article, can be so long and frustrating. You get instant gratification with a blog.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if you've answered this before: Why did you decide to start a blog (which I enjoy very much!)?

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Totally agree Allison. Do not start a blog in the hopes it will get you a book deal. That might have worked when there were like two blogs out there, like for Breakup Babe, which sadly, I don't think her book did very well, but everyone loved her blog.

But blogs can help with your platform as a writer. I just landed the job as parenting editor for and also got an advice columnist job from my blog! : )

Trish Ryan said...

Allison and Manic Mom are right, in my experience. Blogs are great for many things, but there are so many of them now--I think you'd have to be REALLY unique to get an agent or editor's attention that way. And if your story is that unique, you'd probably catch their attention via a query letter & sample pages.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, Alison. And comments. But they seem to contradict what many agents were telling attendees at this year's ASJA meeting.
There was an excellent 3 hour-plus session with agents on the last day of the meeting. One of the take-aways was that blogs were now essential -- at least for non-fiction deals. If the author didn't already have an active blog, that was one of the first things that the agents got them to do.

Unfortunately, they didn't really address the issues of building audience, etc. What happens if you have a sellable book idea but the blog tanks?