Blog to book

HALLATROW, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 12:  Book...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

There is an interesting phenomenon happening of popular blogs getting transferred into books. On first look it seems like a fairly cost effective idea for the publisher, there is a community already interested in the book that should be more interested in purchasing the content.

If I look at the kind of blog-to-books that are out there, they span a lot of different interest groups;
1. Chocolate and Zuchinne (I bought two copies of this)- is a recipe book following on from Clothilde’s blog detailing her cooking habits. I’d say this was probably pretty successful because they also commissioned a further volume about food in Paris. Amazon.com ranking 2.459.073 & 17.773
2. web analytics an hour a day from Avinash Kaushik. This I pretty much the pre-eminent book/blog when it comes to understanding what’s going on with your website. Amazon.com ranking 1,064
3. Stuff white people like came out of nowhere and became a hit very quickly (I think the first post was January 2008, and the book was out in 2008) they also claim to have over 56 million “hits” on the website (whatever they may be) Amazon.com ranking 1,969
4. Postsecret comes out with a few postcards every week from people who tell their secrets in this anonymous format. They’ve got 4 books out, amovie made about them and an Amazon.com ranking 1,831
5. Postcards from your momma another fairly new blog (I think from some people associated with Gawker media) all about the zany ways moms use new communication methods and how sweet they are. (not yet published)
6. college humour has a guide to college, but despit having 4 million monthly unique users it doesn’t do so great in the sales 177,705

However (and this is something my mom said to me) why bother to buy a book when you can read it online for free. This is a good question. There is the issue that some people will always want something tangible in their hands, and having access to it on a website is insufficient. In the future this feeling may disappear, but its doubtful.

Apparently you are looking at about 13 sales/day for a rank of 1,000, and our of the books that are available on Amazon these are not bad rankings (actually I’m quite surprised that these rank so high). Also if you look at these there is a tendency to have a focus on coffee table ish, “funny” blogs turned into books. Though the one which translate least well from the net I would think is College Humour with its focus on videos and this is mirrored in its sales rankings.

Maybe all of these diversionary books are so popular at the moment is because of the economic climate, and people need some light respite. Either way this blog is available for publishing (hardcover only, lots of photos please, I have standards)Related articles by Zemanta

Book marketing 101


My sister’s book is being launched in the US in May (buy it). We were discussing innovative methods of marketing her book (mostly online). It is a fairly nascent industry, but there are a few people writing some interesting stuff. One of the things about her book is that it’s set in Durban South Africa, and all of the reference points (places, products, names) have a very Durban flavour. This was one of the challenges we discussed in terms of how to make this very real to an American audience.

Here are some key pointers from our work in progress discussions about how to best harness the power of the internet to sell a book;

Understand your audience
Its marketing 101, but don’t try and communicate with people who cant read by using the internet. Similarly if you’re selling a magical realism book with a focus on love, its probably not the best route to go to people through a car website, because your audience is women 25+ and men read car sites.

Use bloggers.
This takes a number of different forms, you can;
1. Do a virtual book tour I would advise finding people that fit within your audience and find the blogs that communicate with them. Send through a review copy to them with a handwritten note and something to differentiate yourself (some small kind of gift). From there you can have them review you; write a guest post, have a profile or offer a podcast or excerpt from your book.
2. give away tastes.I’m very keen on the Seth Godin free approach. He has proved that if by giving his book away as a free pdf it promotes the sale of his other titles (I haven’t as yet been able to convince my sister to read her entire book and give it away, but giving away excerpts is under discussion)
3. Use your Facebook community to generate buzz, inform people about book signings and launches and run a competition to stimulate virality with other people. One of the cooler things that she did with her South African launch was to have people take photos of a kiss for a competition. This builds on the viral aspect of it and makes people more involved with the product because they’ve taken the time to get involved.
4. Create context. The book is set in Durban which most Americans have no idea exists. Use online tools to showcase specific spots from the book. Have a Flickr stream which shows places which are talked about. Have a Youtube channel and tour of Durban (or even interview yourself and detail why you’re motivated to write this book, how you feel about touring; it adds some personality to the author and thus interest)
5. Use bloggers to mobilize efforts around a specific offline event; she’s thinking of a picnic in Central Park this time. Ask bloggers to get the word out about events or book launches. These are great for PR if you can get a few people present.
6. Create a book trailer. She’s thinking of a stop-motion video about a cupcake to showcase to drive people back to the site. This could also be used with the “showcase the local” in number 4 above. Very important don’t forget to include a call to action message in the movie, e.g. join our FB, enter our competition, download the excerpt etc.

Update: and of course don’t forget to be part of the conversation. Make sure you’ve got a “vanity” search active on Google for your name and the name of your book. If you have some more budget use one of the tools that I detailed here. Once you know people are talking about you, reach out and get involved in the conversation. You can communicate with the blogger, ask them to profile you, contribute to the forum or anything else to get your message out there

I’ll report back with links and performance as things proceed.Related articles by Zemanta