Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Publishing in the 21st Century (Part 3)

Blogging is fun. It's very gratifying, as well. You get to see your words go out into the world right now; you get feedback on what you've written right now. Haloscan sends you a little tickler every time someone posts a comment, and your email inbox is kept fat and happy. Almost every writer I know has a blog these days, and it certainly is a great way to keep in touch with your fans. (Or in my case, fan. Hi, Christy!)

The trouble is, blogging is so much fun and so immediately gratifying that it's quite easy to turn your blog into your fulltime job and forget that you need to write for paying publication. I know some good writers who have done this. Their writing careers have been completely consumed by their blogs, and now they just sit at their computer all day long, nattering away online and imagining they're accomplishing something. I know others who have managed to keep the two in some sort balance, but most of these will admit they can't credit their blogs with any positive change in their book sales. I know yet a few more who get some pocket change income from Google ad-sense and click-throughs, but nothing to brag about.

What I don't know are any writers who are making serious incomes from their blogs alone, or any good writers who started with a blog and then made the transition to successful print author. Blogging demands a punchy, pointillistic, nearly epigrammatic style, and it's very hard to make the transition from doing that to writing the next 2,000 words of your novel in progress. I know. I try it every day.

The foregoing assertion seems to need some qualification. Yes, there are writers who are paid to write blogs, but that's better described as PR flack work, no different from having a day job writing advertising copy. Yes, Wonkette did parlay her blog into a quarter-million dollar book advance, but her novel, The Washingtonienne, was released to damning reviews and is languishing in the mid-20,000s sales rank. (This may change now that Sarah Jessica Parker has optioned the book for a made-for-HBO movie.) Yes, I am watching the career of Diablo Cody with interest, but only because I'm curious to see whether she actually makes it as a writer or is simply this year's Xaviera Hollander. These latter two are both living proof that with the right combination of luck and chutzpah, anyone can get a huge book advance once. Even Pia Zadora got to make one big-budget movie.

I could write more. I could write lots more. But right now, it's time to get back to paying work.