When blogs began to take off in the early 2000s, they were heralded as an affordable, easy tool allowing users to express themselves and later, as a means to potentially build a following or boost your brand. Suddenly, people no longer had to rely on magazines, newspapers or books to get their thoughts and ideas out there. Anyone could start a blog and nearly everyone did.
In early 2005, there were about 7 million blogs and by 2006, the number had jumped to 30 million. This year, different estimates put the number of blogs somewhere between 125 million and 145 million, and the number keeps rising.
Yet over the years, many of the most successful bloggers have taken a leap back into the old world of publishing, releasing books based on their sites.
Back in May 2004, the New Yorker predicted “books by bloggers will be a trend, a cultural phenomenon.” Sure enough, in the years since, dozens more bloggers have seen their content extracted from the Internet and packaged between the covers of a book.
Some point out books based on websites do not tend to sell very well, but from a writer’s perspective, releasing a book can still lead to significant revenue just from the publishing advance as well as getting wider exposure.
We spoke with five bloggers who turned their websites into books. Here’s how they did it, and what effect, if any, publishing a book has had on their writing careers and websites since.
Stuff White People Like: The site makes fun of white culture with posts explaining the affection white people feel about everything from coffee to “black music that black people don’t listen to anymore.“ The site became a book in 2008. Lander is currently finishing up a follow-up book, also based on the site.
MainStreet: How did Stuff White People Like get started?
Lander: I was having an instant message conversation with my Filipino friend and he said he didn’t trust any white person who didn’t watch The Wire. And then we started joking about what white people did instead of watching The Wire. It was really funny, and I decided to turn it into a blog. In no way did I ever think it would get popular. I make the analogy that when you buy a lottery ticket, as a normal human being you usually say you know you won’t win, but it would be nice. I didn’t even think about that.