Sunday, 8 February 2009

It's All About Me

Lots of people have posted their own snow pictures this week, and I can no longer resist the temptation to show off. We have a huge amount of the white stuff here (that drift is now two feet deeper), I have a stupendously unfashionable parka: but we do seem to have lost my husband's car... it's got to be out there somewhere. Meanwhile we've been sliding about, very slowly, in my Discovery, and wondering when all this horrible snow is going to melt.

Right: onto business. The more observant among you might have noticed that I've added a list of people who have linked to me. I am amazed that there are so many of you: thank you for your support! If you've linked here from your blog but aren't on my list, comment here or email me with your details and I'll add you as soon as I can.

And speaking of being amazed: just look at my hit-counter! I was thrilled when it hit 6,000 after I'd been blogging for just a few months; on New Year's Eve it passed the 15,000 mark; it got just over 5,000 hits in January and just one week into this month nearly 3,000 more people have visited. It's become far more popular than I ever expected it would. So popular, in fact, that the publisher I had lunch with yesterday strongly advised me to turn it into a book. The thought had crossed my mind before but I've always felt that the interraction that we all have together is what makes this blog a success. I love the debate and fear that to try to reproduce this in book form would fix it too much, and make it even stuffier than it already sometimes is. So what do you think? Would you buy a How Publishing Really Works book? If so, what would you like to see in it: brief pieces which echo the blog's format, or longer essays which explore more things at once, and in more depth? All comments are appreciated on this, even if you think it's a bad idea: I'd be grateful for your opinions.


Anonymous said...

Longer, in-depth essays would be of more interest to me in a book format.

Would I buy it? Have to be honest and say I'm not sure. After all, there is a lot of information on this blog, would you be able to provide new material for the book?

Having said that, I'm sure there would be a huge market for this. Not just writers, but people interested in working in publishing in any form.

Nicola Morgan said...

re coat: Jane, where is your face?

Re book: great idea. I think the fact that there's so much info on the blog is not a problem or a reason not to do it - blogs and books work in different ways and each has its advantages. Both together would be greater than the sum of its parts.

Just don't turn up to the launch in that coat.

Jane Smith said...

Richie, if I DO write an HPRW book I will hunt you down and make you buy it. You ingrate.

Joking apart, I share your concerns about the possible overlap of blog and book; but if Nicola Morgan (chair of the Scottish branch of the Society of Authors) thinks that there's a market, then who am I to argue? Although she has no idea about coats: and the fact that you can't see my face when I wear it is probably a bonus.

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

I love your blog - also love books about writing and the publishing industry. I'd definitely buy your book - even if there was no new information. I'd always prefer to have a bound, hard copy rather than read a cold computer screen.

Great snow picture. And your coat is great - I have a similar one.

Anonymous said...

Jane - as someone who has already had a go at looking for agents and publishers and will take any advice going, I'm bang in the market for your proposed book. Despite having done the rounds of writing courses, getting pubished days, talks by agents, editors etc. I might even buy one ;) But what I like about your blog (and blogs generally) is the bite-sized chunks approach, something I can dip into and keep up with when I have the odd five minutes. Then there's the input from your other readers which broadens the appeal - and of course, it's always up to date. So, by all means make some money and reach a new audience with a book - but do please keep the blog going!
BTW any offers for Greyling Bay ;)

DOT said...

I think it a great opportunity to produce different format of 'How to…' book in the terms you allude to, i.e. a book that has been created via a strong opinion, yours, versus the arguments advanced by others.

My mate, the permaculturalist in France,, has also been approached to do a book - his will be far more of a pragmatic book of an established format if it is ever accomplished, yours, I believe, could break new ground.

I hope you do it.

Nicola Slade said...

I like the idea of topics rather than chapters or essays; you already have the topic format here and could prune the comments into chunks of information rather than individual remarks.
I've read loads of how to write/get published books and they tend to be limited, so I like your one-size-fits-all approach. Go for it; there seems to be for a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is book.

HelenMWalters said...

I think a book would be a good idea, as long as you keep the blog going as well! They would serve different purposes as the blog would keep its immediacy and the interactive element, whereas a book would be a great resource for people to read and then dip into for specific information when required.

Nicola Slade said...

Oh look, a missing word makes nonsense of my last sentence. I meant, of course: there seems to be a MARKET for a no-nonsense, tell-it-like it is book.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that you could write a useful and authoritative book on How Publishing Really Works, but it would be a static thing. I find blogging to be more of a conversation, something that grows and changes and gets better over time. And to be honest, if I thought a blog was being written with the intent of making a dollar (or a pound, or a euro) out of it, I'd be suspect of the information in it. Would the blog author be speaking honestly any longer or merely saying what would increase hits and sales? Would the financial influences behind it edit the content or slant it somehow? Blogging is (or can be) egalitarian and mostly free from money forces.
There is a sentiment I've seen that feels that a novel is "legitimized" when it is made into a movie. I think a novel is a higher form than a movie, but that's a different matter. What I'm also beginning to see is that many bloggers are looking for a book deal as well, as though that is some kind of apotheosis for their blog. I don't mean to ascribe this motivation to you, but I am beginning to wonder if a "book" is a 20th Century convention and that maybe it's time to discover the new publishing conventions of our internet age.

Misssy M said...

I started reading your blog about a month ago ever since I took a selfishly personal interest in publishing, after a non-fiction book I am writing got representation from an agent. (Arrgh! I'm in "Will a publisher take me on" limbo at the moment! In a recession, for goodness sakes! How's that for timing?)

What I have found is, a lot of the publishing stuff on the net is American and what UK stuff there is , for want of a better expression, is a little snooty, which can put new writers off. There are exceptions, of course. Your posts are not like that. I have to say that whilst buying my copy of "The Writer's And Artist's Yearbook", if a book called "How Publishing Really Works" had come up in the "You may also like..." section, I would certainly have bought it.

My best wishes on where you go from here.

By the way I'm conducting a little blog survey for a talk I'm doing at Aberdeen's Word Festival on "Why Blog?" and very I'm interested in hearing from any bloggers who are also writers/industry people (as well as anyone else). I would be grateful if you and any of your readers could pop by my blog "The Misssy M Misssives" and give their views.

Paula RC said...

I hope you don't mind me saying, but wouldn't that mean you would join the list of other blogs that have been turned into books .i.e. The Girl with the One Track Mind by Abby Lee.

And may I also point out they haven't become bestseller overnight, not even the next day.
Sometimes they work better as a blog than a book even though they've had many hits (I hope, that's the right word, I'm new to blogging) doesn't mean the book will automatically sell well.

You need to remember your blog is free where buy your book cost money.

Oh, and one other point, I saw 'Girl with the One Track Mind' in a loo for sale (I mean the book not the girl,) of course it was for charity at

Nicola Slade said...

I know what you're saying, Caroline, but a How Publishing Really Works wouldn't be one of those vapid one-man/woman-blogs-turned-book. It would be a useful tool for both published and unpublished writers on the lines of The Writers' Handbook, giving readers the low-down on something most writers are pretty ignorant about. It could also be updated regularly to encompass major changes in publishing, so it has the potential to become a standard work.

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

Hello Jane,
Great pic....i thought that we'd had a lot of snow, but that takes some beating!
I too, could say 'where's your face?' but i have found you in full technicolour glory on a certain agents website today...a really good informative piece, by the way.
But i would have expected nothing less from your good self.
Personally, i like the fluidity of your writing on this blog- you can write what you want, when you want.
Having said that,it doesn't seem to have harmed 'Wife in the North'.
She still blogs- but as it stands, you are really good at replying to all the comments you get.
Would you still blog if you published a book?


Jane Smith said...

SH, thank you for your kind comments about my writing: I didn't realise that piece was up on Andrew Lownie's website yet--I'll put up a proper notice about it tomorrow, but meanwhile here's a link:

Moving on, reading through all the comments here, it seems that on the whole you all have the same reservations about the book thing that I do: that it might just work, but it won't be the same as the blog because I'd lose the immediacy and spontaneity that our interraction provides. However, I'm not sure I'd WANT it to be the same--as Nicola Morgan pointed out, books and blogs are two different animals, and serve different purposes.

I doubt that writing a book would stop me blogging: I'm always writing something, and have still kept the blog going alongside that work; and the blog allows me to respond to current events and share interesting things I find with you all, while a book is naturally more static and fixed (I particularly liked Nicola Slade's point that such a book could become a standard reference: that's rather alluring).

And Caroline, I've been a writer for some time now and realised ages ago that having a book published doesn't automatically lead to high earnings: as for fame, really--who wants it? Certainly not I, I have too many friends who have got tangled up with that particular blessing to want it for myself!

I shall go away and think about this a little more and meanwhile, than you all for your input: it is most appreciated.

TOM VOWLER said...

Reading such a book would be too much of a time commitment for me; I always have more books than time. I love that the blog gives me a distraction from work, yet is related to it.

And I don't think my blog's on your list :(

Jane Smith said...

Tom--sorry for the ommission. It is now. And I'm glad to provide you with a distraction.

Karen said...

What HelenMHunt said :o)

Barry Walsh said...

Yours is a fine blog. Would it suffer if you were to have another major project to complete? Selfishly, I hope not. Only you know.

As for the photo, OK it's better than minebut I thought you'd be above the universal 'picture post' urge.

Anonymous said...

I read a far amount of blogs, but I link to only three: yours, Nicola Morgan's and Alan Rinzler's. Each one offers excellent advice, but in a unique way that keeps my interest as a writer and reader.
Why don't you and Nicola co-author a book? Your succinct advice combined with her wit would make a book about how publishing works really enjoyable and well as informative.

Jane Smith said...

Pimlico, I'm always working on at least one major project as well as this blog, so I don't think the two would conflict; as for temptation--well, you throw it in my path and I'm bound to fall for it, every time. I have very little self-restraint!

Donna, thank you for that compliment: I'm glad that you compare me to Nicola (I don't know Alan), who I admire. Whether we could work together or not I'm unsure: she's bound to claim all the best lines as her own, and I know she fights dirty when there's a bottle of Pinot Noir up for grabs. I'm not sure I'd be up to the challenge!

Anonymous said...

I read your blog because I am a student interested in working in publishing, and I like the insight it provides into 'how publishing really works' and what good editing and publishing really is, rather than from an author's perspective. A book based on your insights and experiences would be interesting to me therefore just because I am interested in publishing as an industry, and because I feel the more knowledge I can gain about what it's all about, the better an editor/publisher/marketing exec I hopefully might be in a few years time. I agree that your blog is still valuable as a living thing able to respond to events and issues as they come up; but a 'standard reference' book bringing all your knowledge together into well-structured categories would definitely complement the blog well and not detract from it, in my opinion.

I link to your blog too! ;-)

Nicola Morgan said...

Excuse me, Jane - I told you about the Pinot Noir in confidence! Would you like it if I told the world what you were drinking last night? And the night before? Donna - the suggestion is a very interesting and flattering one but she'd have to get rid of that coat first. What would we look like at the champagne launch? Anyway, I don't do writing projects with people who look as though they're trying to look like Ranulph Fiennes. Do I mean Ranulph? Sorry, something has destroyed my long-term memory. Can't remember what.

Jane Smith said...

Nicola, at least I didn't tell them about the Cava or the firemen. See, I CAN keep a secret.


Anonymous said...

*starts eating popcorn* Pinot Noir, Cava, Arctic explorers and firemen! Now this is the stuff we want to know about!

Anonymous said...


Do I get a warning when the hunt begins? Or will I only find out when you jump at me from a nearby clump of trees? I can tell from the photo you're an expert in camouflage!

Anyway, as long as the book is not just a collection of blog posts, I'm sure it will do well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane, I hope you find your husband's car.

I think a book is a good idea (when is it not?) and it wouldn't necessarily detract from this blog, assuming it will continue in parallel with the book.

I link to your blog from mine.

Jane Smith said...

Donna, let's hope that Lynn Price from Behler doesn't find her way here--those chocolate margaritas of hers could be the final straw for Nicola and me.

Richie, I've already started. You might just as well abandon hope now. Mind you, a bribe might work.

Captain, we thought about digging the car out this morning before we took the children to school, but as we had another few inches of snow overnight we're just going to continue to shuttle each other about in the Discovery until the snow clears a little. I'm sure the Focus will be fine--wherever it is. And I'll go and sort out that link of yours now.

JFBookman said...

Well, Jane, that snow is mighty impressive! But you knew that when you moved out there, didn't you?

On the book, I think it's a good idea but would need filling in. In the book you'd want longer pieces, where you can really "stretch out" and explore topics in a way that's not that comfortable in blogs (my opinion).

But hell, publish it. I'll buy one!