A Cinderella story of the self-publishing world

The Times yesterday told a Cinderella story of the self-publishing world. It is about author Kathleen McGowan. She spent years researching and writing a novel, a thriller about a descendant of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. Last year, She self-published it, then went to the annual book convention on her own nickel (thousands of dollars in credit card debt) trying to draw attention to the novel. Day after day was spent slogging her way to any person willing to look at it. This year, the book was picked up by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster for a seven-figure advance, and she was feted by booksellers. "An experience that every writer dreams of", She said.


PostSecret is on bookshelf

The blog loved by many - PostSecret - has been in the print since the beginning of the year. I didn't get to see it until today in the book store. PostSecret blog, launched in 1/1/2005, is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. Any one submit information to PostSecret grants PostSecret right to publish them.
This book, titled as "PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives", is a collection of 300 those artsy postcards inscribed with messages describing the thoughts people wouldn't dare say out loud -- from suicide contemplations to forbidden crushes. The cards are among the thousands author Frank Warren receives each week from all over the world.
This blog has been hugely popular, being named by Time as one of 50 coolest Web sites in 2005. Recently, it won two 2006 Webby Awards and five Bloggies, including "Best American Blog" and "Blog of the Year". It has been one of the top 5 blogs on the Technorati for quite long time. This book has made Frank Warren from a typical suburban husband to a first-time author. Frank Warren plan to publish four more similar books. A short PostSecret documentary film has already shown locally.


The state of blook self-publishing

Based on a presentation given in the recent Book Industry Study Group conference, the market growth for self-publishing books is in the double-digit range, which is a quite healthy number. Since bloggering/blook is a very recent culture phenomena, blooks probably only represent a small percentage of total numbers of books self-published. I am sure that percentage will increase rapidly in the next few years.
Already, Lulu.com, an online (vanity) self-publishing house, estimates that more than 20% of its 100 top sellers are based on web site and blog entries.
I think it is quite possible that within next few years, a blook equavalent of 'The Da Vinci Code', will be self-published somewhere by somebody. When that tipping point comes, blook self-publishing will become the main stream.


Blog to book - "Straight Up & Dirty"

Musings on the struggles facing a young divorcee in Manhattan helped Stephanie Klein develop a reader base averaging 100,000 a month. She turned some of the blogs into a book that traces her adult life -- from moving in with what seemed like the perfect man, to divorce, to single life again.
Her blog is updated weekly with heavy commenting.


Blog to book - "All the President's Spin"

Written by the founders and editors of the now-discontinued Spinsanity blog, All the President's Spin is a critique of what they say are the Bush Administration's use of half truths and questionable statistics to "spin" the media and the public.
Their blog has not been updated since 1/19/2005. (Otherwise, it will be much more interesting ...)


Blog to book - "Four and Twenty Blackbirds"

Four and Twenty Blackbirds grew out of a modern-day ghost story, begun in 2002 on Priest's blog. The book spins the tale of Eden, an orphan who tries to uncover sinister secrets of her lineage to understand why she is being constantly watched by three ghostly figures. The book became the fiction winner of the Lulu Blooker Prize in 2006.
The blog is updated daily, funny and warm, not spooky at all.


Think your blog as “book” not “diary"

Guy Kawasaki, a successfully business man, rose to stardom in the blogsphere in just few months of blogging. He posted his first blog entry on Dec. 30th, 2005, now his blog's technorati ranking is #46 (in terms of linking numbers). In my opinion, this is mainly because he has been known as permanent fixture of the IT industry since his days as an evangelist for Apple. But most people would also agree that he is an excellent blogger and marketer.
His recent post The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog , is a succinct but accurate collection of truisms about blogging and it's marketing. In particular his 1st advice :
"Think "book" not "diary". First, a bit of philosophy: my suggestion is that you think of your blog as a "product." A good analogy is the difference between a diary and a book. When you write a diary, it contains your spontaneous thoughts and feelings. You have no plans for others to read it. By contrast, if you write a book, from day one you should be thinking about spreading the word about it. If you want to evangelize your blog, then think "book" not "diary" and market the heck out of it".
Yes, think your blog as "book" not "diary", and write it as such. If in the future you want to publish or self-publish your blog, you have something already very handy.


LJBook.com help you self-publish blogs to ebooks

LJBook.com is a web service making it easier for fellow bloggers to port their entries into book form. It is a free service, but donations make this service live longer. LJBook.com was originally built to allow fans of LiveJournal.com to export their entries into a printable PDF file. Now the service also works with the popular Movable Type, or other blogging software as long as an XML exporter is provided. LJBook.com also has its own, yet small community.
The direct output of LJBook.com is a printable PDF file (or ebook), which may be enough for many bloggers. If you want a real book, binded with perfect bound, then you need submit the PDF file to self-publishing vendors like lulu.com or CafePress.com.