44 blooks

Many aspiring writers are starting out as bloggers, and publishers are taking note.
BlogRevolt.com, a blog covering the blogosphere, published the four parts series listing writers who got blook contracts. The series lists 44 blooks, a few of which have come out and most of which are in the works, please take a look if you are interested - Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4.
None of those blooks are self-published. May be I should compile a list of most popular self-published blooks.


Seven basic kinds of blogs

Nora Paul, director of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota, offered a taxonomy of 7 (in bold, listed below) basic kinds of blogs. I added my comments (in Italic) to the list:
1) Personal diarists
Most bloggers fit into this. They share their daily activities, observations and thoughts with the world, profound or mundane. Many published blooks are from this type of blog.
2) Family networkers
Moms, coaches, boy scout Den leaders, etc. like to use this kind communication to keep family/team members up to date on what's happening.
3) Early responders:
Many technical gadget lovers belong to this group. They follow trends closely, to the edge, like to share their discoveries with the world. When time comes, many also are eyewitnesses to major news as it happens, such as Hurricane Katrina, London subway bombings and Asian tsunami. A lot of photos are typically used in those blogs.
4) Hunter-gatherers:
On-line niche community builders.
5) Agenda blogs:
For people with strong political and ideological standpoints. Several blooks were out of agenda blogs so far.
6) PR/corporate communications blogs:
More and more companies are doing this.
7) Newsroom blogs:
News columns providing quick, routine news reporting with brief insights. Many commercial products blogs and celebs gossip blogs can be classified as this group as well.
Another type of blog I think desearve its own class called "personal project blogs". Many blogger use them to ducument processes and results of personal projects (truth searching, information collections, story telling etc.). I saw quite few published blooks based personal project blogs.


And the winners are ...

Julie Powell is the Overall Winner of The 2006 Blooker Awards !
According to judge Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing and Wired Mag fame) :
"Those who dismiss blogging as 'mere' confessional writing and complaining about one's day job fail to appreciate just how engrossing those genres can be when handled by a talented writer like Julie Powell. The story of how blogging and - writing in public - changed Powell's life is inspirational and memorable."
In other category, the Fiction Winner goes to "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" by Cherie Priest and the Comics Winner goes to "Totally Boned" by Zach Miller.


Top five reasons you should self-publish your blook

1) after 2-3 years of hard work on your blog, you will likely become an expert in your domain, your knowledge deserve to be systematically organized and published, and shared by broader range of people who might not familiar with your blog;
2) you have a distinct advantage over traditional authors: you already have a dedicated following of readers; and your blog provides the perfect free forum for letting people know about you blook; in another word, there has been a market campaigning running for your blook since your blog existed;
3) nowadays, once get published, your blook will have a good chance being known from every corner of the world. People will find your blook through Amazon's book search engine, if not through Google; People read the book will likely bookmark it on the social bookmarking sites such as del.icies.us, so more people will know it;
4) traditional big publisher will not publish you blook. Your topic may be too narrow for them,
there may be many other better known authors in front of you;
5) through digital and print-on-demand technology, modern self-publishing is relatively easy, fast and inexpensive. Lulu has a place on its web site that provides a way for bloggers to instantly publish their own blook. Amazon and similar sites are finding ways to work with bloggers to make their blooks more accessible and profitable.
On one side, majority of people (one survey say it is about 60% - 70% of reader) still want to buy/see physical copies of books; on another side, people want free information whenever they can. It is hard to predict how financially successful your blook will be, but the downside is minimum. You do, however, will expand your influence through your blook.


The brief history of the book self-publishing

Oddly enough, self-publishing (also called vanity publishing in the old days) is the genesis of today's publishing. Two and three hundred years ago, almost all books were produced using the author's, or his family's and friends', money. The bookseller took a cut and the author got the rest. This changed with the advent of modern publishing in the early part of 20th century, when royalty structure were established and the advance system was born. Bookselling and publishing became industrialized and profitable. Agents soon followed.
In the old vanity publishing world, the business model was in big favor of publishers - they charged an author for ALL (any thing you can think of) the costs of publishing a book and then sold that same book back to the author for additional charge. Since vanity book publisher didn't do sells for the book, many authors forced into buying thousands of copies of their own books which they were never able to sell.
The modern self-publishing houses, such as Xlibris and iUniverse, typically offer authors two things:
(1) Print-on-demand (POD). POD cut down on the printing costs because books are printed only when an order is placed;
(2) help with the books' edit, design and layout, book marketing and sells. (with a cost, of course)
According to the Publisher's Marking Association (PMA), during 2003-2004, self-publisher and other small publisher accounted for 78% of all the book titles published in the US.


When to self-publish your blog ?

One big advantage of blogging is that you know when to publish it - the time when you receive high number of reader comments and web links.
Blogger Julie Powell down on her luck as a secretary in Queens, NY 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 - you often see 40 - 50 comments per post. Although there are only 201 sites linked to her blog (not a high number) based on the Technorati count as of today, the activity around her blog lead to some media coverage, and she soon found herself signing a book deal with Little, Brown and Company, and had her book published in Sept. 2005. Julie Powell's blog/book is also one of the finalists of 2006 Lulu Blooker Prize (see my previous entry).