How To Get A Book Deal
With Your Blog

By Biz Stone

Back in the day, book deals were few and far between. You had to be a literary genius, a member of the super-elite writerly crowd, or some kind of insanely talented professional in your field. Then you needed an agent, a publicist, and a body of work to prove you had what it takes to be part of the chosen few, the noble, the proud, the published.

Now, you just need a blog and some chutzpah. Blogging is hooking people up with book deals willy-nilly. Have you always wanted to see your name on the shelf at Barnes and Noble? Do you want to tell your friends, "I can't come out tonight, my editor is breathing down my neck"? Well, there are bloggers out there getting book deals right now. Hell, Wil Wheaton just signed a three-book deal and he credits his blog and its readers for his good fortune. We here at Blogger Support don't want you to get left out, so we're releasing to you, our beloved users, the secrets of blog-to-book success.

Become Obsessed

That's how I got my first deal. I became obsessed with blogging over four years ago when I discovered how easy it was and realized that a revolution was at hand. I talked about blogging so much that my friends thought I was a freak, and people mostly rolled their eyes whenever I opened my mouth. But hey, I'm an author now. This obsessive fixation can work for you too. Obsessive behavior is treatable, but if left unchecked, it can land you some sweet gigs.

Julie Powell managed to swing her abnormal behavior into a book deal too. Down on her luck as a secretary in Queens, NY, Julie said "screw this!" (in her own way) and decided to blog-u-ment her crazy scheme to cook more than 500 Julia Child recipes in one year. Her blogging struck a chord with readers and heavy commenting on her posts was not unusual. The activity around her blog lead to some media coverage, and she soon found herself signing a "really obscene book deal" with Little, Brown and Company. Look for her book in stores early 2005.

People who love to obsess over things are natural bloggers. Not just because they will blog every day and sometimes multiple times per day, but also because they like to tweak, change, edit, redesign, add, remove, and fiddle around with their archives, profile, settings, template, etc. So if you are strange, and you have things to tell people about, or even if you don't, now's a good time to start a blog. You'll thank me later when you sign that book deal. Maybe something along the lines of "This book is dedicated to Biz."

See: How do I create a Blogger account?

Be The Blog

Salam Pax blogged from Iraq with bombs exploding all around him. The whole thing with the bombing and the fighting and the explosions is not always a good way to go but in this case it worked out for Salam. It turns out people wanted to hear what was really going on over there and not just watch television news about how great America is. Actually, Salam got a sweet deal because his book is a republished version of his blog. If you can swing that, you're golden, because you've already done most of the work. Damn. I should have thought of that.

If you find yourself in a war-torn, bombed-out locale with just the clothes on your back and you feel you must blog, fret not! You can set things up so that you can blog with just an email account or a cell phone. But don't blog by phone if you're hiding from enemy soldiers because they may hear you and shoot you. At Blogger, we prefer living users whenever possible.

See: How do I post via email?
See: Audioblogger

Rebecca Blood began writing about blogging and its effect on our culture years before Instapundit starting having children. Early on, Blood used her blog to establish herself online and defined herself as a cultural historian in the field of personal publishing by writing a concise history of the weblog phenomenon in September 2000. This academic illumination of an emerging medium was recognized by her publisher, and Blood was asked to write the Weblog Handbook.

Don't think about getting a book deal, just blog. That's what Mimi Smartypants did and she was just not punk rock enough to turn down a book deal with Harper Collins UK. "I feel very guilty about this book thing, because many incredibly worthy authors struggle and suffer to get their books published, and many more toil away at brilliant novels in obscurity. I go blah blah during my lunch hour on my happy little subdomain, writing something that is NOT A BOOK, and out of the blue comes a publishing contract."

Mimi went the same route as Salam— her book is going to be her blog republished in print. People, I can’t stress how sweet of a deal this is: your editor does the work and you collect the checks. But don't get all smartypants just yet, you still have to get crackin' on that blog.

Be Part of a Dream Team

Meg, Matt, and Paul are three very smart and blog-savvy individuals who work great together. The publisher who put out their book recognized that this trio had potential as a group and realized that their combined know-how would make for one highly informational tome. You know things, and your friends know things too. Combined, you know more things than any one of you alone. It only makes sense, right? A group blog is a great way to start accumulating that knowledge.

See: Can I have a blog that more than one person posts to?

Blaze Your Own Path

Wil Wheaton is an-actor-turned-blogger. First with his blog, and now with his books, Wheaton has found the wealth of spirit he was chasing every time he went on an audition. Wheaton has just secured a three-book deal and just like Sinatra, he did it my way. I mean his way. You know what I mean. Instead of waiting around for publishers to come to him, Wheaton self-published Dancing Barefoot and used his blog to promote it. He shipped over 3,000 copies out of his living room in five months to paying customers and this is no small feat. Here's an insider tip: Publishers like books that sell. Now he is a big time writer with publicists and the whole deal. Go Wil!

Get Your Deal with The Whole Blogging Deal

Blogging is easy and it's not hard to incorporate it into your life. You don't have to disclose personal facts unless you want to. Go ahead and make stuff up. Embellish. Kick things up a notch. A year from now I'll be picking up your paperback bestseller, A Year of Lies, for $12.95. Good work!

Biz Stone works at Google on Blogger and is the author of two books about blogging.

Phillip E. Pascuzzo is a designer and illustrator living in New York.

Published: Wednesday, December 17, 2003, 14:41