2 Things to Consider about Blogging & Books

There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the demise of blogging (and, oddly, the demise of commenting, although they couldn’t prove that by you guys), which was brought home to me recently by a friend who said, “Just when I decided to start a blog I was told blogging is over!” At the same time we hear more and more in the self-publishing arena about How to Turn Your Blog into a Book. So it would appear, on the surface, that the whole blogging movement is segueing into a whole book-authoring movement.

But is it?

Well. . .

Here’s the thing: it’s true that blogging is writing. It’s fabulous practice at developing confidence in your voice and ease with words, as well as focus, dedication, and a solid understanding of the importance of getting to the point (not to mention the inevitable epiphany that writing enough words to fill an entire book is a whole darn lot of writing).

But blogging is a very specific form of writing. It has very specific purposes. And it has very specific readers.

These are not necessarily the same readers a writer needs in order to succeed with a book.

  1. Blogging is conversation

    Blogs are about the writers, not the readers.

    They have to be.

    Free, largely invisible, and sometimes—when visible—lifted without permission by less-visible bloggers who don’t know about the DMCA of 1998, (most) blog posts give their owners none of the usual rewards of massive publication:

    • reputation
    • income

    Yes, some bloggers are famous. As Andy Warhol said in the 1960s (and without benefit of ESP regarding the Internet), “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”

    However, most of us are not.

    And yes, some bloggers make money by monetizing their blogs. But unless you’re using your blog as the portal to a service or product others find both intensely helpful and worth a considerable amount of their hard-earned money. . .

    most of us don’t do that, either.

    And because of this—the basic lack of tangible rewards—blogging can really only be worth the blogger’s time if it provides intangible rewards. For most bloggers, these are the same rewards as those of unpublished writing: the thrill of self-expression.

    Oh, blogging is great fun. Whee, doggies! It was plenty of fun even when no one but my husband and one friend were reading.

    But then you folks started reading, and it turned into an extraordinary, unexpected party. All of you friendly and amazing people who love this craft I love, coming here to talk with me about it and saying kind things, all you people I never would have known otherwise!

    Suddenly I understand why people get up on soapboxes under Marble Arch in Hyde Park and wave their arms and pontificate to the crowds.

    Talking about what’s important to us is utterly invigorating.

  2. A book is a monologue that costs money

    Because books cost money, they are about the readers, not the writers.

    A little over a year ago, a guy named Paul Ford wrote a fascinating post about blogging: The Web is a Customer Service Medium. Boy, do I love Ford’s theory that blogging is all about addressing the question: “Why wasn’t I consulted?” But even more than that, I love the old James Thurber bio that describes him as someone always thinking about what he’s going to say when the other person stops talking.

    This is a typical blogger.

    This is, coincidentally, also a great blog reader.

    “Nice blog post,” the blogger hears (if they’re lucky). “You know what I think. . .”

    And thus begins the conversation between a blogger, a commenter, and all the other readers of that particular blog post.

    But this has nothing to do with reading books, where the reader is alone with the words and their own imagination, absorbing in utter privacy something for which they have paid hard cash. They don’t really care about the writer, beyond imagining that writer would, if they only knew, like to be their best friend.

    The writer doesn’t fit into the book equation. It’s entirely between the reader and the book.

All of which is what we’re missing when we talk about the popularity or demise of blogging and How to Turn Your Blog into a Book:

  1. the difference in purpose between:

    • tangible rewards
    • intangible rewards
  2. the great, yawning abyss between the needs of:

    • the person who writes
    • the person who reads

So when you’re wondering:

  • Is blogging over? or,

  • Should I turn my blog into a book?

Try shifting that to:

  • How am I thinking about blogging and books in terms of my own needs?

  • How am I thinking about blogging and books in terms of the needs of others?

  • If blogging is quote unquote ‘over,’ does that mean it’s automatically not worth it to me?

  • Or. . .?

The Art and Craft of Fiction:
A Practitioner’s Manual

by Victoria Mixon

“The freshest and most relevant advice you’ll find.”—Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Wonderfully useful, bracing and humorous. . .demystifies essential aspects of craft while paying homage to the art.”—Millicent Dillon, five time O. Henry Award winner and PEN/Faulkner nominee

“Teeming with gold. . .makes you love being a writer because you belong to the special club that gets to read this book.”—KM Weiland, author of Outlining Your Novel

The Art and Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner’s Manual
by Victoria Mixon

“This book changed my life.”Stu Wakefield, Kindle #1 best-selling author of Body of Water and Memory of Water

“Opinionated, rumbunctious, sharp and always entertaining. . .lessons of a writing lifetime.”—Roz Morris, best selling ghostwriter and author of Nail Your Novel

“As much a gift to writers as an indispensible resource. . .in a never-done-before manner that inspires while it teaches. Highly recommended.”—Larry Brooks, author of four bestselling thrillers and Story Engineering

“I wish I’d had The Art & Craft of Story when I began work on my first novel.”—Lucia Orth, author of the critically-acclaimed Baby Jesus Pawn Shop

30 thoughts on “2 Things to Consider about Blogging & Books

  1. Victoria, this post reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother a few years back. I told her that I had begun blogging and her first response was, “Do you get paid for that?” When I said that I did not she sniffed, “Well, that’s not really writing.”

    I can’t recall exactly what was said next, but my reply was something along the lines of a quote from The Bishop’s Wife: “My pockets are bulging with the coins of self-satisfaction…”

    Intangible rewards certainly do have value!

    1. Victoria says:

      “My pockets are bulging with the coins of self-satisfaction…”

      Brilliant quote, Kathleen! 🙂

  2. I had to comment, simply because another Kathleen Kelly commented before me, and the odds of that are remarkably slim!
    I recently started a blog for one of the reasons you mentioned: to find my written voice. I decided that I can’t hide in my basement cave forever with dreams of improvement without trying something new.
    In my opinion, as long as there is on blogger left, blogging won’t be over.
    I do it for fun and I do it for me, and I think both of those are the most important reasons.

    1. Victoria says:

      You guys should start a blog together called Kathleen Kelly.

  3. Susan Kelly says:

    Yay for bloggish conversation! I love that we can talk to people who have gone to the trouble to start the conversation (that is, they started a blog) and it’s an interesting conversation because that blogger is an interesting person. How can that be “over?”

    Sometimes it must seem like shouting into the dark. I’ma gonna give it a try, as soon as I can muster up the fortitude to face that dark. How do you get over that, Victoria?

    1. Victoria says:

      Don’t think of it as darkness. Think of it as light. So long as there’s nobody in the audience, you can do and say anything on that stage you darn well please!

      It’s really only after you start getting regular readers that you have to start editing your posts really carefully As J.D. Salinger knew, there is a marvelous freedom in having your personal playground all to yourself.

  4. Bill Polm says:

    Insightful, Victoria.

    I recently started blogging (about 6 months now) and tried to do a guest post and was told it was too much like an article. We, the blog editor and I, worked on it, and it has been accepted.

    But blogs have a style all their own–sentences and formatting too.
    I think it’s important to think about what we write and how we should write it. Books don’t have to be written in blog style, even if they are offered as freebies or for sale on blogs.

    Another topic that interests me is, How is the Internet and blogging affecting our language–both written and conversational? Hyperlinks, after all, make text more three-dimensional. Sentence fragments are frequent along with one-sentence or very short paragraphs, etc.. And, do these characteristics (and others) have the negative affect of further increasing our contemporary short attention span?

    1. Victoria says:

      These are really good questions, Bill, and I hope other commenters chime in.

      Books should not be written in blog style. If a blogger wants to use their blog content in a book, they need to shape it quite specifically. Blogs by nature are fairly random, even a highly-focused blog like mine. When I use my blog content for my books, I have to do a ton of condensing and arranging and polishing to bring it up to the quality that a reader has a right to expect when they fork over money. Even if I were to offer my books for free, once the material is cast into book form the reader expects professional-level work.

      And, yes, the Internet—Twitter and texting, as well as blogs—is having a huge effect upon our language. It’s kind of fascinating to watch. It’s pidgin and even creole, the birth of new language, all speeded up.

      Television has had a similar and extremely powerful (even devastating) effect upon modern fiction.

    2. Judy Dunn says:


      I love your questions. I wrote a post not long ago called “Is Twitter Masking Us Crappy Writers?” and there a very lively discussion that ensued in the comments. My take on it is that it, in some respects, it has made people more concise, to-the-point writers. In other ways, it has made our writing sloppy and unintelligible (“U” for “you,” etc.)

      I use sentence fragmenting quite a bit when I blog. But in some ways, if I am writing realistic dialogue, I’m doing that, too. Nice to pop into Victoria’s blog again…I’ve been away too long. : )

      1. Victoria says:

        Hey you!

        I added the link to your post. 🙂

  5. I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this piece! You delivered a great deal of insight in such a short space about both the reasons for and expected rewards of blogging. There is so much about blogging that I should have known, but had never heard before, like that blogging was “over,” or that blogging should be more for personal development and expression than for marketing.

    Does this mean that starting a blog as a way of supplementing your personal branding is a stretch, in your opinion?

    1. Victoria says:

      This is a really good question too, Morgan. It really depends upon what you mean by your personal brand.

      If you have high-quality content you want to brand because you’re starting a business, then blogging is an excellent, free tool just lying around out here at your disposal. Before the blogosphere, the opportunities for cottage industry were almost non-existent by comparison. And there are some great online marketers blogging who can help you focus your blog so you reach the people your business serves. (I like Judy Dunn, and not just because she’s a sweetheart either.)

      However, if you’re not sure what exactly it is that you have to brand, if you’re just whirling from the echo-chamber of marketing-speak on the Internet, then I wouldn’t worry about your personal brand at all.

      Blogging helps you learn what you’re interested in and how you want to talk about it. And it eventually connects you to others who share your passion.

      Do it for the intangibles.

  6. Judy Dunn says:

    Morgan (and Victoria),

    I have been in both spots with blogging. When I started, it was marketing blog and I offered design and copywriting tips for small businesses. Got quite a few new clients using that strategy.

    Now it’s a writing blog and I do it to brand myself as a writer, to build my author platform and to attract agents and editors. A different purpose, but it still falls in the marketing corner. I love what Victoria says here, that blogging connects you with others who share your passion. So true.

    And, aw, Victoria. You have put a smile on my face. Thanks for the kind words. : )

  7. mj monaghan says:

    Great post and excellent comments. I have been blogging a short time and did it to see, 1) could I do it, and 2) to see if I had a specific “voice” to be able to write for any audience.

    I have loved it for many reasons beyond just those two, above. The differentiation between WHO (or is it whom?) you’re writing to/for in blogging vs. book writing is a profound distinction. I’ve felt that same way, but you put it into words perfectly. Thanks for sharing this, and for blogging still, even though it’s “dead.” 😉

    1. Victoria says:

      Thanks, mj! I love this stuff.

      Oh, and it’s “whom” here. You’re using it in the dative case, not the nomative.


  8. CG Blake says:

    Thanks for your insightful comments. I have given some thought to turning my blog posts into a book, but when I put on my editor hat, I can see most are totally inappropriate for publication without major rewriting. Maybe it’s a first draft. Thanks again.

    1. Victoria says:

      Yes, CG. We all start out with a first draft! It’s a wise writer who recognizes one when they see it.

      It’s like that old Groucho Marx joke about safari hunting:

      “Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas! How it got in my pajamas I’ll never know.”

  9. Brian says:

    I visit here often, Victoria, but I don’t remember telling you how much I benefit from your perspective. Consider yourself told. This post in particular was encouraging to a guy who’s been blogging for a year, likes it more and more every day, but periodically wonders if it’s worth the effort.

    Thanks for reminding me that it’s okay to write because I like it, not just to attract an audience of thousands (I’d settle for dozens).

    1. Victoria says:

      You’re very welcome, Brian. Thank you for the kind words. I blog just because I like it, too. At this point I’ve got enough clients and content that I could quit anytime.

      I could. I really could. I don’t inhale. . .

  10. Hi – All great comments, and Victoria, I think your parsing of the differences is right one, and why blogs don’t become books directly.
    Having said that, I have converted a series of posts into a white paper on business writing – although, “used a series of posts as a basis for” is more accurate. The white paper is a marketing piece, and the business-casual voice of my blog translated pretty well. I also think that E-books meant to promote your business can be created from a series of related blog posts with a little editing, good transitions, and a framework to tie them all together.
    In short – I think a blog can be repurposed for some types of longer publications, but you have to keep Victoria’s differences in mind and emend accordingly.

    1. Victoria says:

      Oh, yes, Michael. Informative writing like a white paper is very specific and fits the blog style pretty well if you know what you’re up to. A lot of blogging is informative, especially on business blogs.

      I worked with a bestselling nonfiction author last year who wanted to turn their blog into a book. We talked a lot about the framework that would best tie together the posts they wanted to use—there are always a number of choices, and it’s a key decision.

  11. José says:

    Hi Victoria, I really liked your analysis and I agree with it. There’s just one thing I could not entirely deal with: the book being a monologue. I think books have always been part of a converastion, only an incomplete one. IMHO blogs can be a way to complete, at least partially, that conversation. I followed blogs after reading their authors’ book and also read books after reading and liking what was written in blogs. Of course the blog has to “continue” the conversation topic of the book, for this to be the case.

    I would really like your opinion on this!

    1. Victoria says:

      Hi, Jose! A book is a monologue simply because the reader can’t respond to the author. The blog is where the writer’s monologue becomes a conversation between blogger and commenter.

      Some blogs are monologues too. I read a fascinating post last year by a guy who’d turned off comments on his blog altogether, and his readership skyrocketed.

      Of course, multimedia in ebooks is changing some of that. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in the interactive world.

  12. Susan Kelly says:

    There’s something appealing about that (turning off comments). For people who need to get comfortable with talking to the world, it might be a good thing.

  13. Steve Broome says:

    I’d agree that commenting, etc. seem to largely be dead, but the demise of blogging seems more to do with the downfall of longform content. For example I find almost no long-term use for twitter and facebook, but I know people who are on both day and night. I make a longform webcomic and subscribe to newspapers still, while most folks read one-off, gag strips and get their news from content farms. Even if it’s not very popular I’ll continue to use blogging.

  14. Hi Victoria,
    I’m always late to the party with trends, so it doesn’t really bother me if blogging is supposedly dead. I agree that it can be fun. But your insight about the intangibles of blogging are spot on!

    I was simply amazed after reaching just ten followers. I hadn’t even done anything to publicize my blog. I simply started a conversation and hoped it might be commented on by somebody – someday. Knowing that I now have “readers” is even more motivation than simply pretending to be that Saturday Night Live character, Linda Richman, who throws out random topics for conversation.

    Blogging is definitely “worth it” for me because it also provides structure and makes me disciplined. Otherwise, I’m just a wild dog when it comes to writing.

  15. Lisa Nolan says:

    I started my first blog in 2008, as a way for people to get to know me in a more personal way–which I found very hard to do on my website where I sold (sell) educational/homeschool programs. I also created blogs for all my content, as a better format than a webpage (webpages). Then, in 2011, I did the “turn your blog into a book” thing and published my first (of three) Kindle books. And you are correct, there is a difference between a book and a blog! I was constantly editing my book and taking all that personal stuff (about me and my son) out of the book! Because it is all about the reader (and HER children…). Great post! I look forward to more as I try to get inspiration for my writing blog, which has had a year-long identity crisis, to say the least!

  16. Don’t tell me blogging is over! I love to blog, and read other’s blogs, mostly because of the people I meet and the conversations I have about reading, writing, cooking, and life in general. These are conversations that most people I meet don’t have the time to engage in. So blogging fills the need for leisurely conversation.

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