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A weblog by Laura Moncur


SXSWi 2009: From Blog to Book Deal

Filed under: Utah Geeks — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Last March I went to SXSWi 2009. I posted the notes from two of the days, but conference exhaustion got in the way of me posting the notes from the last three days. After much delay, here they are.

From Blog To Book Deal : How-To - SXSW Interactive 2009 by Austin Kleon from FlickrFrom Blog to Book Deal: How-To

Room 18BCD

Tuesday, March 17th

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Is traditional publishing dead? Apparently not, as many bloggers are landing book deals that extend and enhance their online work. Learn the ins and outs from bloggers who have done it including how to shape a coherent book from tons of posts and involve your readers in your writing.

Hugh MacLeod: Cartoonist, gapingvoid.com

Guy Kawasaki: CEO, Alltop

Stephanie Klein: Author, Greek Tragedy at stephanieklein.com

Kate Lee: literary agent, ICM

Moderator: Pamela Slim: Escape from Cubicle Nation

Pamela Slim:

Thank you for staying awake and alive! Escape from Cubicle Nation

Blog to book has been happening a lot. There have been a lot of books that have been inspired by blogs.

Why would a blogger want to write a book?

Kate Lee:

If might come down to monetizing. Most people don’t get rich by writing books. It can be a legitimizing experience. You can reach more people that way. A book is a great way to get into other media.

Stephanie Klein:

I started my blog not expecting a book deal. I need to put my energy into me instead of Match.com. I needed to make myself happy.

Guy Kawasaki:

I had written a book about 5 years ago. The word “about”… What is your book about? It’s about 26 bucks… I didn’t want to just repackage my blog. The publisher said, “Don’t worry.”

If you think you can just take a blog and put it in a book… There is no flow, chapter, etc. for a book. They are all points of life. It took him nine months and the editor says it’s too long. He wouldn’t let them cut out anything.

You might get lynched on the Internet for just repurposing your blog, but not very many. Two weeks after you’ve posted a blog post, the entry is GONE. Whereas a book, the whole thing is there. It’s not a big problem. A book has big advantages.

Hugh MacLeod:

Before I was a blogger, I was a cartoonist. His cartoons translate really well to the Internet.

He wrote How to be creative as a blog entry. It felt like a book.

I’m not sure if blogging makes writing a book harder or if writing a book makes blogging harder.

Pamela Slim:

It was helpful to me to have a reference for my clients.

How do you go from a blog to a book? How did you make choices?

Stephanie Klein:

Greek Tragedy: She was completely rejected by the sororities.

How did I compile all this information.

Instead of dating, I would take pictures at that party and give them a card to direct them to my site.

What do I want the self-realization of my book to be? Then I worked backwards from there. You need to have a story from beginning, middle and end. Stories that don’t help that blog, need to be cut.

Kate Lee:

How do you get an agent? Do your research. Literary marketplace. Publishers marketplace. Go to a book you like and see who they thank. They all thank their agent. All information is available online.

Hugh MacLeod:

Make friends with people who read your work and have book deals.

Kate Lee:

It helps to know someone to get in the door, but then you have to sell your work.

There are two people: great idea or great voice

Stephanie Klein:

I worked harder on my book proposal than I did on my book.

Kate Lee:

I don’t expect you to know how to write the book proposal, I help you with that.

Guy Kawasaki:

You could come away from this “It’s Who You Know.” Bullshit. It’s “Who Knows About You.” You need to get known. It’s takes some proselytation.

The key is to write good stuff.

Pamela Slim:

You need to think about who are the same people who have the same market as you have?

Stephanie Klein:

You have to take a risk. You can’t just talk about wanting to be a writer, you have to actually do something about it.

Hugh MacLeod:

You need to tell the people that you like that you like them. If your work is really good and you’re reaching out to people who you admire, then the heirarchy matters a lot less.

Guy Kawasaki:

If she ever asks me to help her get a book published, I would help her.

Kate Lee:

There’s no single, right way. Knowing people is helpful. YES write good stuff, that’s what gets me to pay attention to it. Publishers do pay attention to audience members and platform.

Hugh MacLeod:

I never thought I’d make any money writing the book. There are MANY agendas that books are good for. A book makes you a go-to guy. Money is only ONE currency.

Kate Lee:

It’s harder to get a publisher to notice you if you self-published. Right now, the big publishers have more distribution. The model is changing, but you’re not going to have the rest of the machine work for you if you.

Guy Kawasaki:

I would caution you from considering your book a means to an end. If I write a book, it gives me greater credibility when a REAL press publishes your book. I think it’s wrong to write a book as a means to an end. The REASON you should write a book is because you have something to SAY!!

It’s a much better test for if you are serious about writing.

If you have more than four blurbs, the book is bad.

Question: Publishers can’t help you to market your book. What do you do?

Hugh MacLeod:

Fight like hell.

Stephanie Klein:

It helps to be really creative about it. A lot of it, you have to do yourself. She contacted Torrid for her book. They buy the book straight from her publisher.

Know your audience.

Kate Lee:

It doesn’t always come down to talent. It comes down to WORK!

Pamela Slim:

There is a lot of hustling.

Guy Kawasaki:

As you are finishing your book. Try to get as many followers on Twitter as possible. Always be searching for something like your expertise. Send them a message and a link that helps. The day your book is available, hit them.

I’m trying to tell you how to win. Email and tweets are the most powerful way to selling.

Assume that your publisher will do NOTHING for you.

Hugh MacLeod:

You publish a book when you have no choice but to do it.

Pamela Slim:

I realized that this NEEDS to be a book. It needs to be made because in a book form, it will be useful to the people you care about.

Hugh MacLeod:

When you make a book, you’re not making community, you’re making a work of art. Writing content. Getting people to read your shit, whether on paper or in a blog is hard. This stuff is all HARD. Once you understand that and accept it, it will help you.

We’ve been making our mark on the cave wall for a really long time.

No amount of social media or curation would make it easier.


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