10 Comments

Webinar on Blogging a Book: Where Do We Rest in Free Content Land?

From Flickr User nowviskie

I listened to a free webinar from Writer’s Digest on How to Blog a Book, which is a book by Nina Amir that came out recently.

The webinar was one week ago today.

Here’s the link to the book.  It came out from Writer’s Digest publishing.

Nina said that we have to blog every day (or on an unrelenting schedule).

She said not to give your content away so quickly, that posts should be 250-500 words, and that you need to lead up to the book for at least 6 months.

She posted images of Julie & Julia, Stuff White People Like, 101 Uses for My Ex-Wife’s Wedding Dress, etc.  These were blogs that became popular and that landed their authors book deals.  She told us that we could do it the other way, too.  That we could actually write our book on a blog.  She said that doing it the other way is called “booking a blog.”  I think she made that up.

She said that 81% of Americans claim to have a book in their heads that they want to write, and that only 2% of people actually do.

She suggested that the medium of blogging could help us to develop the book and the discipline to write at the same time.  She suggested that the reason it works to write a book on your blog is that it’s efficient: you’ll be building your platform while writing your book.  She also said that she heard an editor at some big-name publishing house say that blogs are a great test market for the sale-ability of a book.

She was careful to point out that nonfiction works better on blogs.

And she was sure to remind us that we have to give people a reason to buy the printed version of our book that we’ve (presumably) blogged and sold to a publisher.  That we should leave out chapters of special features or information.  She said that people will buy the book because it’s difficult to read a blog as if it’s a book.

But here’s the thing.  We all know that the ratio of blogs to blog-to-book deals is staggeringly tiny.  Amir suggested that there might be 72 book deals from blogs each year.

How many blogs are there?  I couldn’t even hazard a guess.  Certainly hundreds of thousands.

And how many people are there who believe that they are swell writers, but who are actually quite terrible?

So still, even with the advice, a great idea, and competitive writing chops, it seems that odds are still exceedingly slim, and that people out blogging books are going to add to the excess of free content, thereby making it more difficult still for writers to get paid for writing. And it is already incredibly difficult, even for excellent writers.

And now I find that what I hoped would be illuminating was actually annoying and disillusioning.  And a webinar, which is totally dorky.

And it also made me hate Writer’s Digest a little bit.  I’ve had a minor suspicion that they’re really just a factory for content that’s designed to extract money from a bunch of desperate writer hopefuls.  HOWEVER, I do find their publication to be incredibly helpful, and Writer’s Market is amazing, and I tend to get overly cynical whenever I’m disappointed.  So next week, let’s hope the cynicism wanes.

Till then, what do ya’ll think?  Anybody with plans to blog a book? Anybody tried?

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10 comments on “Webinar on Blogging a Book: Where Do We Rest in Free Content Land?

  1. My book, Observations of an Earth Mage, came from my blog. My publisher approached me about it–I didn’t approach her. It’s done okay, but it is far from my best selling book. And you are so right about Writer’s Digest encouraging “factory fiction”. They’re terrible about that–they try to take out all artistic creativity and preach sticking with their model, which pretty much sucks. I used to tell my writing students to never, EVER read Writer’s Digest if they wanted to become real writers. I stand by that advice.

    • Ha! Factory fiction. Great. Well, the magazine has some great articles about the industry, interviews with great people–writers–who’ve made it, and not just WD writers, like ZZ Packer and others. But I agree that there’s no formula, and this has given me an idea for another post, about originality and formula. Also, I find Writer’s Market to be incredibly helpful, both the publication and the online service.

  2. There are much worse places to get writing advice than Writers Digest. :) I’m working on a book proposal (that is, copyediting and consulting) for someone who has a whole blog of writing tips and yet can’t write a coherent 3 chapters + proposal. I have edited many authors who hang their editing shingles out and yet aren’t “there” yet themselves. Eeek.

    • EEk indeed, J! But blogging, editing, and book-writing are three vastly different skill sets. I read a book called “How to Write a Book Proposal,” and I was kind of offended by how obvious the advice was. “Be clear and cogent, provide a sense of the whole book, be professional in dealing with agents and editors.” And then all of that in nuance.

      Sometimes, I am shocked by how little people seem to glean by living life.

    • That’s very true, Jamie–I’ve seen so many writing books where the “author” couldn’t spell even simple words, e.g., “writting” instead of “writing.” Bur for people who truly can write, a lot of the WD articles are repeats of things we’ve already learned. And they do tend to teach formula fiction, which is fine for romance writers, who need to follow a formula, but not so good for more mainstream type of books.

  3. [...] 2) I was curious about trying to adapt content to work off-blog, per the Blogging a Book (or Booking a Blog) Webinar. [...]

  4. I’m sorry you didn’t like the webinar. I just thought I’d mention, though, that I did not make up the phrase “booking a blog.” It was coined by author and designer Joel Friedlander when he repurposed his blog content into a book rather than writing his book from scratch. Booking a blog is the opposite of blogging a book; in the first case you repurpose old content into a manuscript and in the second case you actually write your book on your blog. Good luck with your writing and blogging.

    • Hey Nina, thanks for stopping by, and for the clear-up on where the phrase “booking a blog” came from! It’s not that I didn’t like the webinar, I just wanted to be illuminated by it, and I didn’t feel especially illuminated. It’s totally not your fault. You did a good job. But I’ve done a ton of reading on the topic, and I was hoping for more than affirmation of what I’d already read, gleaned, or done. Still. I thought it was cool that poets were on the call, and I’d be interested in your take on why it’s important to use the WordPress.org platform as opposed to the free WordPress.com web based application (which is what I’m presently using, though I would like to use plugins, so far, that’s not enough of a reason to go hosted).

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