From Blog to Book Deal: Do you purposefully write your blog to gain the interest of an agent or publisher?

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he’s scouring the Internet looking to turn your blog into a NY Times Bestseller.

I read the most interesting article today at Digital Book World and it was called The New Farm System: From Blog to Book. In this article, Iris Blasi, associate editor of Union Square Press, quotes from Patrick Mulligan, senior editor at Penguin’s Gotham Books at the 2010 Digital Book World Conference.

She says Mulligan estimates that more than 50 blogs nabbed book deals in 2009 and that wasn’t all because only announced deals are included in the database so the figure will be much higher.

The Internet is an incredible place to be, isn’t it? Imagine this. There are literally thousands of chances your own blog – the one you’ve worked on maybe for fun or maybe even for purpose – could be picked up by a traditional publishing house. There are prerequisites of course. People have to be talking about it enough to gain the attention of the mighty ones, wouldn’t you think?

So in the giant equation of things, there would be two sets of bloggers – one set who write for themselves and the other set would be those who write for the attention of others. Most bloggers fall in both groups, but I was curious if there were actually bloggers out there who purposefully write to gain the attention of others – mainly agents and publishers who might happen to stumble on “the next best thing” and whip them off to publishdom.

So my question of the day is: do you purposefully write your blog to gain the attention of agents and publishers?

I asked a few book bloggers who are authors or aspiring authors what they thought about it. Did they purposefully write their blogs with the main goal of getting that book contract or did they blog for other reasons?

J.W. Nicklaus who blogs at J.W. Nicklaus’ Blog says, “Directly, no. I would like to hope that either entity would be more interested in what I said and how I said it–from a genuine perspective–than in a forced or tainted angle trying to curry their favor.”

Barry Eva who blogs at Across the Pond says, “No, I don’t. At first I was blogging every day in numerous blogs around the webasphere, with all the differant subjects there were rarely items relating to my book etc. with the increase of the radio shows they have taken over the blogging this year, and while at first I just used one blog for those items I have found the need to spread them to the other blogs as differant listeners have differant blog hosts. Sure I’d like to pick up an agent or publisher but for that I’d need a book to be written lol. For now perhaps, as has happened already I have more chance of being asked to cover other radio stations etc.”

“The target audience for my blog is readers and members of the writing community,” says Morgan Mandel, who blogs at Double M’s take on Books, Blogs, Dogs, Networking & Life. “It would be an unexpected, but happy perk if an agent or publisher were to notice my posts and like them enough to want to offer some type of book deal, but no, I don’t blog with the intention of going after an editor or agent”

April Pohren who blogs at Cafe of Dreams says, “With Cafe of Dreams, my main focus is to inform readers about authors and books that I am interested in and/or share my opinions on books that I have read. For this reason, I probably do write to gain the interest of publishers, but mainly to help promote authors rather than my own personal writing. On a side note, I have actually tossed around the idea of starting a blog titled The Adventures of an (un)Super Mommy. It would be a humorous blog with bits of inspirational messages thrown in about life and family. Fiction with a bit of personal experiences thrown in, lol. With something like this, I would love for an agent and/or publisher to pick up on it if it was any good. I think that any of us who dreams of being a published author has at least a small spark of hope in being “discovered” through any means of our writing – including personal blog writing.”

Cheryl C. Malandrinos who blogs at The Book Connection, among other places, says, “While I have known authors whose books have been turned into blogs, none of my blogs focus on trying to attract agents or publishers. I don’t understand why a person would pay for something that he’s been able to get for free in the past, so I see my blogs only as a creative outlet that I enjoy, not something I would do for profit.”

Rebecca Camarena started the Dogs Rule Cats Drool blog not to gain attention from anyone, but because all the authors in her writers group had started blogs about the main characters in their novels. “I was so miffed at myself for not being an author because I thought I had nothing to write about. I gave it some thought and said, wait a minute, I have three characters in the backyard, but they just happen to be of the animal kind.” So, she created a blog about two dogs who try to exist peacefully in the yard together, but still try to figure out how to get rid of the housecat. Thus Dogs Rule Cats Drool was born and is written in the voice of each animal, each having their own distinct personality.

Rachel, who blogs over at Dig This Crazy Test Pattern, says, “Well…yes and no. Yes, I want the blogs to be a springboard to an eventual book, to show my knowledge of animation history and ultimately gain respect among “real” animation historians. But my colleague Kevin and I are also fans, and we write the blog with fans in mind. In other words, we try not to get too high-flown and intellectual.”

While not all bloggers intentionally write blogs to gain the attention of agents and publishers, some blogs have done really well at doing just that.

Stuff White People Like is one such blog. This blog has attained the most attention so it seems the right choice to begin our search to find out just what publishers and agents might be looking for.

It’s quirky, humorous and just looks like it would make a perfect book. Random House gave this blogger a $350,000 advance for rights to publish it.

Incidentally, the blog was started in ‘08 and already it’s received over 63 million hits.

Postcards From Yo Momma is the brainstorm of Doree Shafrir and Jessica Grose who thought it would be funny to post emails from mothers.

Says Doree, “I just thought of a brilliant idea. We start a website called emailsfromourmoms.com and get people to send us emails from their moms.” “OMG THAT IS AMAZING,” Jessica wrote back. “Let’s do it.”

They later decided “Postcards From Yo Momma” would make a better blog title and the rest is history. Needless to say, they got an undisclosed amount of money but it was “significant.”

More bloggers who attained book deals:

Animal Review

Anonymous Lawyer (Picador)

Awkward Family Photos

BBQ Addicts (Scribner)

Chuck Norris Facts

Crazy Aunt Purl’s Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-Life Misadventures of a 30-Something Who Learned to Knit After He Split (HCI)

Escape From Cubicle Nation

Fail Blog

FU, Penguin

Hot Chicks with Douchebags (Simon Spotlight Entertainment)

I Can Has Cheeseburger (Gotham)

Jezebel

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (Little, Brown and Company)

Look at this Fucking Hipster

My War: Killing Time in Iraq (Berkley Trade)

Passive Aggressive Notes (Harper)

People in Walmart

Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves (cracked up looking this one over)

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives (William Morrow)

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income (Wiley)

Regretsy: Where DUI Meets WTF (Villard)

Restaurant Girl (HarperCollins)

Rules From My Unborn Son

Sleeveface (Artisan)

Stuff Christians Like (Zondervan)

The Joys of Engrish (Tarcher)

The Pioneer Woman

This is Why You’re Fat (HarperStudio)

The closest I ever came to fame and fortune was when a playwrite asked me if I had rights to a paranormal comedy that I and two other writers wrote. We sent the book, then heard nothing.

Sigh.

But…since the book’s publisher went bankrupt, might there still be hope for Henri the Ghostest with the Mostest?

It does make you think, now doesn’t it?

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