Blog-to-Book, Hybrid Genre(s)

I think the writing Jodi has been doing lately is outstanding, and just now in a comment I told her I could imagine her as one of those people who gets a book deal from his or her blog. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to post for a while now about the book-deal-from-blog phenomenon; I'm interested in several aspects of it. I want to:

  1. Compile a list of bloggers who have gotten book deals
  2. Think about what kinds of writing these bloggers are doing, what these blogs have in common (for example, the writing on all these blogs is acutely personal)
  3. Keep track of what the generic conventions are: What will the book-from-blog hybrid form look like?* Of course specific books will vary, but for the most part, will they be epistolary memoirs? How will they be arranged? Will they keep reverse chronological order (a blog expectation), or invert to chronological order for continuity (a print memoir expectation)? Or will the blog posts be used as raw material, with the intention that the end product will be a seamless narrative? How will the generic expectations merge to create a hybrid? Will one or the other -- blog or book -- prevail? What will happen to the comments readers leave? Will the blog be taken down after the book is released?

I know these questions aren't new, that plenty of other people are wondering the same thing and have probably already written about it. If you know of such writing and can point me to it, please do so in the comments. Also, here is a list of blogs I know of that are going to be released as books, or already have been. If you know of more, please alert me to them.

  • The Julie/Julia Project, book here
  • Where is Raed? (Salam Pax), book here
  • Baghdad Burning -- looks like the blog is still up. Actually, there's an excerpt of the book in the most recent issue of Ms., and it looks like they've kept the post format; the excerpt consisted of dated entries ending with "Posted by River @ [time]." Must buy that book.
  • The rumor is apocryphal, so I don't want to say for sure, but I heard that Ginmar's blog might become a book. (She's in the U.S. military and was stationed in Iraq for a long time, but is back now. Great writing there.)
  • UPDATE -- found some more: Diary of a London Call Girl
  • Wil Wheaton (his writing speaks for itself, and his weblog was what got his writing noticed, so I'm counting him here, but his celebrity prior to starting the blog certainly helped)
  • Mimi Smartypants, book here

* I want to be clear about my terms here: I don't mean to suggest that "book" is a genre. "Memoir" might be a genre, but I consider "book" a form and a technology, much like "blog."

UPDATE: Should have done the Amazon searching first. Looks like in every case, the weblogs have stayed up after the publication of the book.


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blog turned book

Kristie Helms

Having read the book and the blog, it is interesting to me that the book is marketed as a novel/fiction, when it is clearly a memoir. I am curious about the decisions involved in presenting the text in this way.

Another Blog to book

Wendy McClure's I'm Not the New Me

And don't forget to check out her Weight Watchers recipe cards.

Good Luck!

Heather T


One that Jonathan and I thumbed through at Borders today -- how could I have forgotten Washingtonienne?! Like the Helms book, The Washingtonienne: A Novel is presented as fiction too, and isn't in post format.

Bad Signal

This probably doesn't count because he's a big-time comics writer anyway, but Warren Ellis has published two volumes of BAD SIGNAL, a compilation of his listserv/journal. Looks like they just took the messages, had an illustrator add some miscellaneous tentacles and other creepy sci-fi flotsam, and published it.

Books from Blogs

I've been exploring this subject for several months, primarily at Writer's Edge, which is searchable, and in Orkut writers' fora. It will be interesting to see what you uncover. Belle de Jour was the first one I heard about, primarily because it won the Blog of the Year award. Mostly I read that people get book deals because of their blogs, not necessarily turning the blogs into books, although there is a service now that will accomplish the task semi-automatically.

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