I’ve spent several hours over the last month discussing the blog to book concept with a writer chum now living in Europe who is a writer.
Viewed in its entirety, there are a lot of blogs that on their surface could be turned into good books. Right off the top, the Chatfield Project at Churbuck.com jumps right up ( here). This collection is based on the memoirs of a 19th century Cape Cod whale fishermen and civil war US Navy brevet Captain who made his mark as part of the Caribbean Squadron, which gained infamy and notoriety in ist raid on Tampa Bay.
When I first started reading the exploits of the good Captain Chatfield I was instantly swept up in the fast flowing narrative and its laser-focused observations of pivotal 19th Century events such as the California Gold Rush (during which Capt Chatfield’s whaler was left abandoned on the shores of SF while it’s crew—including the good Captain, went to seek their fortunes in California’s numerous gold districts.)
There are some marketing blogs that could also be turned into books. Eric Kintz’s Marketing Excellence/Digital Insighyts blog here is something I read regularly and carefully. The same is true for a blog called Magnosticism, (here) insightfully written by fellow PCWeek alum Rob O’Regan.
The blog to book world is ripe for successes based on satirical blogs. No one blog is a more obvious example than the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, penned by Forbes Sr. Editor Dan Lyons. Lyons’ book, loosely based on his blog is called “Options” and is due out this Fall.
But Fake Steve isn’t the only example of a blog to book project with great built-in potential.
One of my “must reads” every day for the last two months has been ”Confessions of a Pioneer Woman”, written by a mid-30’s mother of four who went from undergrad life at USC to marriage to a Marlboro Man and mother of four “punks” on the high plains of Montana. What makes “Confessions” a must read is the author’s introspective, honest humor, as well as her incredible photographs. Her series on pregnancy testing 300 cows, with accompanying Cowgina Monologue photos is one the funniest things I’ve read in years. Don’t believe me? click here. Or, go to www.PioneerWoman.typepad.com.
My final candidate is The Atlantic’s James Fallows’ “Dispatches, China” which you can read here. The current interest in doing business in the PRC makes Fallows’ blog—written from within the People’s Republic – a strong candidate for conversion into a book in the near future. My interest in blog to book conversions started over a year ago and has led to a couple of predictions and observations.
1. Trying to make money by selling existing copy on a web site using a chapter-based sales model will not work.
2. To increase the potential of a successful blog to book move, most authors will need to increase the illustrations they post in their blogs.
3. the market for satire and humor is relatively untapped, but has enormous potential. The reason I read FakeSteve everyday is because it’s often funny. Pioneer Woman is a laugh-out-loud pants-peeing,
hiney buttocks tingling hoot almost everyday.
4. There are very few marketing blogs being published today that have the insight required to make the transition to a business book.
5. Sock puppet marketing or egotistical blogs are non-starters. Most are so transparent as to not be worth reading as blogs, let alone as books.
6. On the plus side, blogs can boost awareness of a book or an author. One of the first and best examples of the blog to book phenomena is business book called Management by Baseball here written by ex-Infoworld staffer Jeff Angus. I recommend that anyone trying to turn their blog into a book, read Angus’ book and his blog as a primer.
(mandatory disclosure—I worked at PCWeek with David Churbuck, Dan Lyons and Rob O’Regan, I respect and admire their skills and enjoy their blogs.)—Jim Forbes, Escondido, CA.