December 15, 2004

A Novel Concept

by Andrew Stern · , 10:36 am

It seems that blog readers and commenters can serve as focus testers for book authors — at least this happened in the case of Marrit Ingman, who convinced Seal Press to publish her memoir about depression, based on the feedback and encouragement from frequenters of her blog. In fact, as this NYTimes article describes, several books have been born from blogs.

But a word of caution is contributed by a certain assistant professor of new media studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey — that blogs aren’t quite the same as books. Where’d he get that idea? ;-)

4 Responses to “A Novel Concept”


  1. scott Says:

    Wow — that’s missing punctuation, egads. Well call me a skeptic. I’m not sure that a great blog would make for a great book in all cases. They are two different types of writing. This doesn’t, by the way, mean that I think a Grand Text Auto book could possibly be anything but great.

  2. Jill Says:

    It’d be interesting (perhaps) to see how similar the books-from-blogs are to the orginal blogs. I haven’t actually looked at Salam Pax’s book, assuming that reading the blog would be enough – is it simply a reprint of the blog, I wonder? His columns in The Guardian were certainly different from his blog.

    Belle de Jour is the only other of these blogs I’ve actually read, I think, and though its less bloggish than some (not many links, no comments) it’s still got that self-contained little narratives thing about hte posts. I wonder whether the book will instate a narrative arc? (And it seems so unlikely that the writer really is a call girl.)

    Actually I’ve read Julie/Julia, too, and there is a clear, pre-determined narrative arc in that blog: cook your way through Julia Child’s cookbook. Change yourself in a day by day manner. Write about it. And there’s a wonderful ending: she gets a book deal and gets to give up her dull secretarial job. Oh, and eight months later, a postscript: Julia Childs died last night. She changed my life.

    I guess I’ll have a look at those books, when they’re out.

  3. mark Says:

    Going back to before blogs actually existed by that name, there’ve been a few books that have come out of UseNet newsgroups and mailing lists. Generally they end up being of the form “summarize some of the views of this community”, and therefore much, much different in style and format from the original community’s discussions. One notable example is The UNIX-HATERS Handbook (1994), which was a culmination of years of discussion on the UNIX-HATERS mailing list.

  4. iJames Says:

    Interesting article. I found it a bit striking, though, that most of the deals they describe are mostly bloggers writing novels, with no relation to their blogs. Fiction in blogs seems still to be an undiscovered country, with relatively few experiments in the genre and relatively few people paying attention to the blogfic that’s out there.

    Any thoughts on that? My own theory is that there’s an audience out there for it, but most blog fiction that’s been tried either hasn’t been good or has taken the wrong approach. What I’ve seen has mostly been conventional epistolary novels sliced up into dated chunks. Stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. But blogs don’t really read like that, because people’s lives don’t work that way — if they’ve got any continuity at all, they read more like soap operas. My own blog tries to take that serial approach. (It’s also speculative fiction, which as far as I know has barely been tried in blogs.) No idea yet whether it’ll succeed, but it’s been lots of fun to make the experiment.

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