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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

From blog to book – Scrappleface leads the way

Blogging will not turn bad writers into good ones, but it can make life a whole lot better for good writers.

The fear among them (us? – I vomit the verbals, you judge) is that if you just fling your stuff up as it gets done so that it can immediately be read by all those greedy readers forthwith and at no cost, you will, at best, become a world-famous pauper, a super-celebrity beggar, famous on six continents for not having two cents to rub together. Buddy can you spare a Paypal payment? Well, at least blogging gives the downtrodden a voice.

Oh, you do occasionally get paying gigs out of all that unpaid stuff you churn out. But think tanks are one thing, and actual paying readers are something else again.

This is why I find the news that Scrappleface has just had a book published so very interesting, from the point of view of blogging in general, if not of this particular blogger.

I caught myself thinking yesterday that although I could blog about this book, I could not actually review it because I have not yet read it. But actually I have, I assume, read quite a lot of it, as soon as it came out. It is, I am entirely confident, very good and very funny. If you enjoy poking fun at Democrats etc. as much as he does, you should buy it. You will love it.

Seriously, we bloggers must all hope that this book sells really well.

At present, most regular publishers probably regard blogging as just one great big given-away cowpat on their lush and expensively priced pastures. But if the idea gets into their heads that they can grow a whole new crop of expensive books in this ordure, well, this could really bring the old media and the new back into bed with each other.

Think about it from a publisher’s point of view. What do publishers do? What they do is edit stuff that they have finally got into their hands. So, let the mainstream, big name editors surf the blogs and find their writers there. They can feel happy and powerful choosing material that has – blessing upon blessings – already been written and is already on their desks. No begging phone calls, and ordeal by deadlines. (Deadlines are hell for writers, but imagine what they are like for hard-pressed publishers.) The entire job is already on their desks and in their hands.

As for readers, well, writing as a reader, I do not notice any decline in my enthusiasm for books, or in anyone else’s. Books are nice. You can read them in the lavatory, and in coffee bars and trains and bank and supermarket queues. You can give them as Christmas presents to human beings, or to members of your family.

As blogs multiply in number, the need for people to spot the best ones and pick out their best bits is bound to grow. Bloggers have shown a great enthusiasm for picking out their favourite bits by everybody else, today. But not many have shown themselves willing to plough through their favourite blogs and tell the rest of us which are their favourite bits from a year ago, two years ago, and (for let us look ahead) ten years ago. (Personally I cannot be bothered to pick out my own favourite bits by me.) Publishers have just the people to do this, and just the product (books) in which to display the fruits of such labours.

Bloggers. The new book writers. We can all hope.

11 comments to From blog to book – Scrappleface leads the way

  • Jake

    It stands to reason that many book writers would come from the ranks of bloggers.

    The more you write, the better you become. Secondly, a blogger’s writing is unmercifully critiqued every day. A writer will always become better if his writing is frequently reviewed.

    Plus his blog buddies can get word-of-mouth marketing launched for the book.

  • “Christmas presents to human beings, or to members of your family”

    Brian, the truth now: are you an alien?

  • Robert

    For some reason the name Micklethwait makes me think of you as a Harry Potter character.

    This has nothing to do with anything in this posting or even in the blog in general, I just thought I would let you know.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I think of newspaper columnists getting books of their columns published; how is that any different from bloggers getting their collected columns published?

  • Well, it’s exactly what I am doing with my book, at The Daily Brief (www.sgtstryker.com)— word of mouth marketing…

  • Books are nice. You can read them in the lavatory

    That is true, and I do read books in the lavatory.

    But if you have a laptop and a WLAN, you can leave comments on blogs from the lavatory too.

  • He isn’t the only one who has just published a book. I had a book published on the 1st of October. I happen to know of at least 2 other bloggers that will have book published as sole-writer or co-writer in the next few months…including one frequent poster on this particular blog.

    The key is to have bloggers sell well and to provide a conduit for other writer-bloggers to get the info out there. We, as bloggers of any note, have an informal network of contacts that make for easy marketing at pretty low cost. We are, to a certain extent, a publishers dream.

  • Rob

    The Scrappleface book is only the next in a line of several books from blogs. For example; both Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek were written from entries in Wil Wheaton’s blog. It’s nice to see publishers start to “get it” about the writing on blogs. There are great writers in these parts.

  • Ken

    Also great is the fact that preservation in the form of books is much more likely to keep the historical legacy of blogging alive. It would be a great shame indeed if these comments lacked an influence on history when the Internet has been so constructive in allowing greater transmission of fact and expression of opinion.

  • Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! will be publishing his book, Silent America in time for Christmas. I’ll be buying multiple copies for people on my Christmas list.

  • Having read Andrew’s book, and since some of the material was previously published on Dodgeblogium, MB can vouch for the great possibilities available to bloggers for seeing their work in the dead-tree medium. The feel of a book in one’s hand is many times a better sensation than staring at a monitor, for it allows the reader to take in the entire sense of the work.

    And, btw, the book, The Gathering Dark, is a great read !!