Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Better Than a Blog?

Thanks to everyone who listed their favorite book/publishing blogs, my Google Reader thanks you (feel free to continue posting on that topic if you stumble upon a new gem). The Internet has really been wonderful for books -- as space for books in newspapers keeps shrinking, the Internet has really filled the void.

Segue. One of the other benefits of the Internet is that people without a platform and starting from scratch have a new opportunity to get up on a virtual soapbox and make themselves heard. These days publishers are all over well-trafficked bloggers like stink on a monkey (stole that one from Seinfeld).

I receive a lot of questions from bloggers about how much blog traffic counts for a platform, and how they can translate their blog into a book deal (this mainly applies to nonfiction -- the rules of fiction are mostly the same). To me, even apart from the audience a blog reaches, I ask one main question about a potential blog book: would the book be better than the blog?

Think about the appealing characteristics of blogs: they're instantaneous, they're free, they can respond to current events, they can be linked to, they're free, you can leave comments, and they're free. As much as your blog audience loves you (really, they told me you're awesome), do they love your blog enough to plop down $24.95 for a book that doesn't even have a comments section that they can curse you out on? Or more to the point: does your book idea contain enough unique material and is it on a meaty-enough topic that it can transcend the year it takes to get a book from writing to published?

So yes -- there are certain blogs that can benefit from the length and scope of a book, and there's a reason publishers have been snapping up blog books. But for others, especially blogs that are current-event driven, it's tough to beat the timely material you're already dispensing for free. So if you're hoping to transubstantiate your blog into a book deal, make sure you have a clear idea why a book based on your awesome blog would be even awesomer.


Len said...

I'm pretty sure that the guy who comes to my blog really likes it.

Hélène B said...

I'd buy this guy's book:

I nearly peed my pants reading October 18th's entry. I'd hyperlink it, but I don't know how and the addy doesn't format well here. Let's just say, worth the noodling around to find it.

Niteowl said...

I find myself wondering how many visitors constitutes a successful blog. Or the levels of success, which I imagine to be:

-Tumbleweed town
-Friends And Family LOVE IT
-Look, three or four strangers, but they are actually bots
-Super duper thousands of hits per day blogs

Does anyone know where I might find appropriate numbers?

brian_ohio said...

transubstansiate... isn't that the song from Sound of Music?

If I Blog... and nobody reads it... does it make a sound? Hmm.

Christopher M. Park said...

I can't help you with your specific question about numbers, but you might be able to get some idea of a blog's relative worth based on its technorati rank. If you search, you'll see that this blog is ranked 40,727 currently, compared to a paltry 750,904 for my own. Miss Snark is ranked an incredible 1,445, while Neil Gaiman is absurdly highly-ranked at 352 (not that he doesn't deserve it. It's just amazing).

Whether or not that is a good representation of how many people read any given blog or not, I don't know. But I bet it's reasonably accurate, since the more people who read your blog, the more people that link to it.

Hope this helps.


Christopher M. Park said...

Here's that link to the post Helene mentioned. That is pretty darn funny.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh man, can't believe you wrote this. Mind reader!!!

I think blog readers and book readers are often looking for different things.

I didn't start my blog as a platform for my future bestselling blah blah blah novels. I started it because I had to write in order to silence the voices. It's not a high traffic blog, but it amazes me that I have readers who actually love what I write, and keep coming back!

I don't expect that many of my ten readers will buy my book though (mostly because it doesn't yet exist). They come for pictures of horses and junked cars and Johnny Depp and my funny lookin dog, set into my long winded stories about my life. I don't think they'll buy my book someday's middle grade fiction. None of my readers are in Grade 5.

But still. It sure feels good to hear the comments, especially when the rejections keep rolling in!

McKoala said...

My blog now has two whole entries. It's only taken me a year. So how long until it adds up to a novel? Hmmm, looks like I will have to pass my masterwork on to my children to complete as a condition of their inheritance.

Perhaps like the Sagrada Familia it will be a monument to art that will forever remain unfinished...

Oh, alright then. I'm not a serious blogger. I'm not even an unserious blogger. Bah. There goes that publishing route.

Jennifer McK said...

Hey Nathan, somebody wrote a book of Instant Messaging transcripts. Why can't we just compile our scintillating blog posts into a book complete with comments?
I've been frustrated with my own obsession with the traffic on my blog. But then, I it doesn't always mean that much really. I've done all the bells and whistles and what brought people to my blog was my personal perspective. Interesting isn't it?

Liz said...

Chris, thanks for the way cool links..I love those sort of stats. How fun!

The whole blog into book thing is sort of off my radar. Ar these books collections of essays, musings or what?

Peter R said...

Chris, did the ranking and my occasional blog comes out at 1,970,000 lol. Apparently I have one reader other than me, but then I only really write it for me.

Bernita said...

There are many other benefits from blogging besides purely platform.
Thank you for that link, Christopher.
Mine ranks 83,283.
I am astounded.

Christopher M. Park said...

I'm definitely with the rest of you that there are more benefits to blogging than just platform, or how many hits you get. It's all about quality, not just quantity--if you have a small group of people who come and comment, and who don't flame and such, to me that's more valuable than having hundreds or thousands of often-hostile strangers coming through.

But in truth, pretty much every blog I've been to has had a community of pleasant, reasonable commenters. The news likes to talk about the angry anonymous people who rant and flame on comments, but I haven't observed that in the writing/publishing blog sector. Good for us!

And great for you, Bernita! That's a wonderful ranking! I'm glad you all are finding the technorati link to be of interest.


Len said...

Heather Armstrong (Dooce) has a book deal, and she's number 76 on Technorati. That's a boatload of hits.

Niteowl said...

Christopher M. Park
Thanks for the tip about technorati. And yes, I can't help but wholeheartedly agree on your Neil Gaiman comment, he absolutely deserves it.

Slight derail, did anyone read his excellent short story he posted that's up for a nebula? Damn is it ever good.

Marti said...

Well, I turned my blog (along with newspaper columns) into a book, but they're humorous essays, which are pretty timeless, and about stuff that anybody can relate to. I mean, who hasn't had a flat tire, or cut their finger off and watched it fall to the ground?


quietly writing said...

I don't want to "transubstantiate" my blog into a book, but I do want to ask you a submissions etiquette question.

Several weeks ago I e-queried one of your colleagues at Curtis Brown, whose personal e-query policy is "no response means I'm not interested."

I'd love to query you next, but I'm not sure how much time should pass before this is "kosher." I would never presume to query 2 agents at the same agency simultaneously.


Nathan Bransford said...

quietly writing-

You should probably wait a month before you assume it's a no, and generally I'd recommend waiting a few months before querying agents from the same agency.

But -- after that month is up, in this case just go ahead and query me. Thanks!

quietly writing said...

Thank you, Nathan, I appreciate that.

Of course, I won't be signing the letter "quietly writing," so you'll never really know whether to regret this or not. ;)

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