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February 16, 2006

Will Blog for Book Deals -- Part 4

It's time for another installment of "Will Blog for Book Deals," wherein we peruse the latest batch of publishing deals announced by bloggers' agents. For previous listings of blogger book deals, see this and this and this:

* One-time teen prostitute/blogger turned bestselling memoirist in Brazil (now 22 and retired from her previous profession) Raquel Pacheco's THE SCORPION'S SWEET VENOM, to Unieboek in Holland at auction; Sonzogno/Rizzoli in Italy at auction; Planeta Argentina for Latin American Spanish rights; Edicoes ASA for European Portugese rights; Tramvay in Turkey; Tammerraamat in Estonia; and Vinabook in Viet Nam; with an auction underway in Germany; all sold within the past week.

* "Hog on Ice" blogger Steven H. Graham's GOOD MORNING, NIGERIA! How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spam, in which Graham scams the con artists whom everyone has come to hate, the Nigerian spammers in the tradition of Ted L. Nancy's Letters From a Nut series, to Citadel, for an advance up to $50,000.

* James Beard Award winner, Time magazine columnist, and Food and Wine Magazine award winner for her blog "Veritas in Vino" Alice Feiring's THE BATTLE FOR WINE AND LOVE (OR HOW I SAVED THE WORLD FROM PARKERIZATION), a chronicle of the author's crusade against wine critic Robert Parker's palate and her search for real wines around the world, from the last riojas in Spain to true champagne, to Harcourt.

* Constitutional scholar and attorney Scott Gant's WE'RE ALL JOURNALISTS NOW: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age, an analysis of a brewing battle in which bloggers and other citizen journalists will vie for rights and privileges enjoyed by professional journalists, and offers legal and philosophical ammunition for their struggle to gain equal standing under the law, to the Free Press.

* Former Wonkette blogger Ana Marie Cox's first nonfiction book, on the next generation of political activists, again to Riverhead, reportedly for "mid-six-figures" (Washington Post).

* New Yorker, Playboy, and Radar contributor, and blogger Daniel Radosh's RAPTURE READY!: Adventures in the Strange Pop Culture of the Religious Right, an investigative account of the burgeoning multi-billion dollar Christian media industry, to Scribner, at auction.

* Seth Godin's SMALL IS THE NEW BIG: And Other (Little) Ideas that Change Everything, a small collection of big articles - from blog posts, ebooks, and magazine articles, to Portfolio, for an advance somewhere between $100,000-$250,000.

February 09, 2006

When Consumers Call the Shots

A study by the Yale Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management indicates that consumer reviews on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com had a potent effect on sales of the products reviewed.

Interestingly, the study's authors, Judith Chevalier and Dina Mayzlin, found that a 1-star review depressed sales more than a 5-star review boosted sales. It seems that negative packs more punch than positive in word-of-mouth.

This report contributes to a growing body of research demonstrating the impact of consumer-generated content -- whether in blogs, product reviews, or other new media -- on brand image, sales and even share price. I'll be posting more on this research in the future.

In the meantime, consider this little factoid from another study by the Yale center, which found that the new price and feature comparison capabilities enabled by the Internet is forcing a transfer of riches from auto companies to consumers amounting to at least $240 million per year for those who shop at Autobytel.com alone, or about 2.2 percent of the cost of the average car. That's $770 saved on the price of a $35,000 vehicle.

And again, that's the savings just at Autobytel.com alone.

More evidence that the Web-fueled power of consumers is increasingly being felt in the marketplace.

November 15, 2005

Two New Blog Book Deals

According to Publisher's Marketplace (subscription required), the first half of November has already yielded two new book deals related to blogs and bloggers.

Brooke Parkhurst's BELLE OF NEW YORK, about a beautiful Southern debutante who comes to New York and lands a job in the news room of a conservative cable network while reveling in the hedonisitic pleasures of the city, is based on the blog BELLE IN THE BIG APPLE. It sold to Sarah McGrath at Scribner.

Then there's Jonathan Yang's ROUGH GUIDE TO BLOGGING, which is billed as "everything you need to know and didn't think to ask about the blogosphere and your place in it." It sold to Andrew Lockett at Rough Guides.

November 03, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck, Aaron Brown

According to a late-breaking story in Media Daily News , Aaron Brown has left CNN's Newsnight and will be replaced by co-host Anderson Cooper. Brown's departure was described as a "mutual decision" -- a euphemism for being forced out but getting a nice severance package in the process.

I'm all in favor of the TV networks' recent efforts to humanize their broadcast coverage. And I like some of Anderson Cooper's reporting, especially his exposure of government ineptitude during the Katrina disaster.

But as a CNN anchor, Aaron Brown provided something that has become increasingly rare in TV news today: thought leadership. He explored issues deeply, and he made you think.

Now the networks just want their anchors to make you feel, not think.

Could Edward R. Murrow even get hired in today's news business? Very doubtful.

October 25, 2005

More Bloggers Get Book Deals (continued)

Herein, some more recent book deals for bloggers:

* Former Gawker and MediaBistro blogger Elizabeth Spiers' novel AND THEY ALL DIE IN THE END, a satire of Wall Street and the media, to Geoffrey Kloske at Simon & Schuster, by Kate Lee at ICM. agent Kate Lee has indeed been busy of late, getting book deals for Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds, YPulse's Anastasia Goodstein, and Phillip Brooke -- aka Dong Resin of Gawker's Screenhead blog -- among others.

* Blogger Dawn Eden's THE THRILL OF THE CHASTE, giving marriage-minded single women -- who want more to life than sex and the city -- an inspirational and motivational message, to Greg Daniel at W, for publication in fall 2006, by Janet Rosen at Sheree Bykofsky Associates.

* John Jantsch's DUCT TAPE MARKETING: The Only Small Business Marketing Tool You Really Need, providing proven low-cost solutions in a simple, effective, and systematic way, to Victor Oliver and Jonathan Merkh at Nelson, in a good deal, by Stephen Hanselman of LevelFiveMedia (world).

* Pseudonymous blogger and author of THE INTIMATE ADVENTURES OF A LONDON CALL GIRL Belle de Jour's THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BELLE DE JOUR, again to Helen Garnons-Williams at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, in a good deal, for publication in September 2006, by Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh (UK/Commonwealth).

September 27, 2005

Thank You Joe Trippi and Jeff Jarvis!

Although my new book is hardly even in bookstores yet, I'm pleased that it's getting some attention (although we're still waiting to see if any of the major media will review it).

Here's what former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi had to say about blog!:

BlogRevolt is a new blog that people should check out if they are interested in how blogs are changing things.

David Kline started the blog a few weeks ago — but he has also co-authored a book with Dan Burstein. David and Dan interviewed me for the book some months ago — but I really did not know what to expect from the interview.

Their book is a must read. When I wrote “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” I really hoped that other books would be coming out that expanded and explained the true communications revolution that we are in — Kline and Burstein have done that with "Blog!"

And then Jeff Jarvis over at Buzzmachine was also kind enough to mention the book:

I got a galley of Blog! by Dan Burstein and David Kline. Among other things, it compiles interviews with a host of bloggers (me included), among them: Scoble, Shirky, Cox, Huffington, Denton, Wheaton, Curry, Ito, Trippi, Kos, Rosen, Simon, MacKinnon, Calacanis, Lee (the agent), Teachout, and more. If only it were a podcast!
Thanks also to marketing communications expert Jane Genova and Internet technology consultant and democracy activist Jon Lebkowsky for also mentioning my book.

September 23, 2005

Looney Tunes Revisited

He's baaaaack!

Yes, everyone's favorite Pollyanna Pundit, that lovable Paleo-Libertarian George Gilder, is back on the Wacky Predictions circuit, once again touting new technology as the answer to all of society's problems.

This time he's talking about blogs and how they will "redeem" civilization all by themselves. In remarks at an AlwaysOn conference this summer reported by Dan Farber and Francine Hardaway, Gilder also picked up on an old theme of his, once again predicting the imminent death of TV and Hollywood and all other mass-market entertainments he happens to find "stultifying" or otherwise not up to his elite taste standards.

Now you'll forgive me for not commenting sooner on Gilder's return to the spotlight after the lost years of the dot-com disaster during which he lost not only his shirt but his reputation as well. But at the time he spoke, I had not yet launched my blog. And besides, Gilder's predictions really do tend to get juicier and loonier with age.

In fact, let's go back in time and see what the Mad Hatter of techno-Utopianism said in 1994:

"Over the next decade, TV will expire and transpire into a new cornucopia of choice and empowerment ... Hollywood and Wall Street will totter and diffuse to all points of the nation and the globe.... [and] the most deprived ghetto child in the most blighted project will gain educational opportunities exceeding those of today's suburban preppie."

Well, more than a decade has now passed since Gilder made those remarks, so how do his predictions stand up against the test of time?

Yes, thanks to cable's growth and the emergence of on-demand programming opportunities, TV now offers many new choices to viewers (although one would be very hard pressed to call The Apprentice or Showdog Moms and Dads exactly "empowering"). Nonetheless, the most popular and critically-acclaimed shows continue to emanate mostly from the networks. Hollywood and Wall Street, meanwhile, have despite their many challenges just enjoyed their most profitable decade in history. And as for our nation's ghetto children, it should be obvious to anyone with basic common sense that new technology cannot by itself rewrite existing social and economic reality -- and that it will take a lot more than Internet access to overcome the institutionalized forces of deprivation that continue to cripple the educational and work opportunities of inner-city children.

You'd think Gilder would be too embarrassed to keep spouting this nonsense. But alas, I suspect his speaker's fees rise in direct proportion to the outrageousness of his remarks.

Consider, if you will, Gilder's remark about disgraced WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers, sentenced to 25 years in the slammer for orchestrating the biggest corporate fraud in human history:

“He’s been made the scapegoat for the telecom crash …and for the appalling blunders of the [government] regulators who thwarted the [telecom] revolution.”

Oh, it's the government's fault, is it? How much did industry spin meisters pay for that one?

September 16, 2005

Will Blog For Book Deals

When bloggers storm the ramparts of fortress mainstream media, it's not always with sword in hand and righteous indignation in their hearts. Sometimes they're just looking for book deals.

Indeed, a quick perusal of book publishing deals reported at Publisher's Marketplace (whose founder Michael Cader I interviewed for my own book, blog!), shows that publishers have been very eager to capitalize on the blogging phenomenon. And hardly reluctant maidens, bloggers have been happy to help them do so (yours truly included).

Herewith, a small sampling of book ideas snapped up recently by blog-obsessed publishers:

*** Peter Kuhns and Adrienne Crew's BLOGOSPHERE: Best of Blogs, a book for people too busy to read blogs who want to know what's out there, to Michelle Newcomb at Que.

*** Nadine Haobsh's untitled memoir, in which the Ladies Home Journal associate beauty editor recently fired for her blog, "Jolie in NYC," dishes about the beauty industry, to Carrie Feron at Morrow, in a two-book deal.

*** Creator of teen media and marketing trend blog pulse.com Anastasia Goodstein's MEET JUDY JETSON: Decoding the 21st Century Teen, a parent's guide to better understanding the technology children are using today, to Becki Heller at St. Martin's, by Kate Lee at ICM. [Kate Lee is a very smart agent ... I interviewed her for blog!]

*** Former Houston Chronicle blogger Rachel Spencer's AU PARIS, about a young woman who gives up life in the corporate world and travels to Paris to be a nanny for a well-to-do family, to Danielle Chiotti at Citadel, in a nice deal. [A "nice deal" means an advance somewhere between $1 - $50,000.]

*** Rob the Bouncer's CLUBLIFE: Behind the Velvet Rope, based on the blog that has been featured in Gawker and Newsweek, exploring the nightclub subculture from the point of view of a New York City bouncer, to Harper.

*** Blogger Anna Broadway's SEXLESS IN THE CITY, about her exploits as a half-hearted virgin struggling to reconcile the deeply held faith of an evangelical upbringing and life as a Brooklyn denizen and chaste party girl, to Broadway.

*** Electrolicious.com blogger Ariel Meadow Stallings's AND THE BRIDE WORE A HULA HOOP, helping brides-to-be buck tradition and create a unique wedding, to Brooke Warner at Seal Press, in a nice deal.

*** Author of GAY HAIKU and blogger Joel Derfner's SWISH: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever, exploring the more flamboyant facets of modern living, to Andrew Corbin at Broadway.

*** Corporate blog coach, Fortune 500 speaker, and consultant Debbie Weil's BLOG, making a case for corporate blogging by revealing how your business can benefit -- and profit -- from this cultural and technological phenomenon, to Megan Casey at Portfolio. [Oh-oh, maybe this is a competitor to my next book.]

*** Consultant and seminar leader Andy Wibbels' EASY BAKE BLOGS, a 'business blogging cookbook' on how to leverage blogs to build and market your business, to Megan Casey at Portfolio, in a pre-empt.

*** Air America radio pundit and Liberaloasis.com blogger Bill Scher's WAIT! DON'T MOVE TO CANADA, commentary and strategic advice for frustrated liberals and Democrats, to Chris Potash at Rodale.

*** Lawyer by day and Snarkywood.com blogger by night Martha Kimes' IVY BRIEFS: A Privileged and Confidential Law School Story, relating her humorous adventures as a Midwestern girl struggling to survive at Columbia Law School, to Suzanne O'Neill at Atria, in a pre-empt.

*** New York Times writer and occasional blogger known as D-Nasty Dana Vachon's MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS: A Romance, to Cindy Spiegel at Riverhead, reportedly in a major deal for $650,000, for two books.

*** Paul Davidson's BLOGOSPHERE, a collection of blogs "written" by historical figures and celebrities such as Elvis, JFK, Confucious, and John Lennon (upon meeting a young woman named Yoko Ono who seems very interested in how The Beatles deal with the publishing rights to their song library) to Warner. [Now this sounds like an interesting book!]

*** Creator of the "Bullsfreak" basketball blog and author of Hard Bop Academy: The Sidemen of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Alan Goldsher's BLEEDING BLACK 'N' BLUE: A Smashmouth History of the NFL's Toughest Division, to Jack Heffron at Emmis Books.

*** 26-year-old blogger and role-playing game freelancer Scott Lynch's four books, beginning with THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORE, to Simon Spanton at Gollancz (world). They've sold rights to Bantam, reportedly for six figures for three books.

*** Blogger and writer Jami Attenberg's INSTANT LOVE, a collection of linked short stories, pitched as a worthy of comparison to David Schickler's KISSING IN MANHATTAN and Melissa Bank's A GIRL'S GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING -- exploring what it means to be in love and what it means to be lonely, and particularly what it means to be both at the same time, to Sally Kim at Shaye Areheart Books, at auction.

*** Blogger and photographer Stephanie Klein's STRAIGHT UP AND DIRTY: The Life of a Young New York Divorcee, a humorous tell-all tracing the author's return to single life as a "firm, fashionable, and let's face it - fetching" twenty-something, plus a memoir based on the author's childhood experience at Fat Camp, to Judith Regan at Regan Books, in a major deal (including film rights). [A "major deal" means more than $500,000 -- how's that for "fetching?"]

*** Blogger and third-year Harvard Law student Jeremy Blachman's ANONYMOUS LAWYER, a novel based on the now infamous blog of the same name (his fan's thought he was a middle-aged partner in an LA firm until a recent NYT article), about a partner in a big LA firm who commits a seemingly minor ethical infraction he could probably get away with until he is found out by his nemesis at the firm, a fellow hiring partner known simply as The Jerk, to John Sterling at Holt, in a pre-empt.

*** Twenty-eight-year-old Army soldier and blogger Colby Buzzell's MY WAR, depicting his experiences as a soldier in the line of fire and presenting uncensored stories that bring home the realities of war, expanding on material first filed on his blog of the same name, to David Highfill at Putnam. [We also interviewed Colby Buzzel in blog!]

*** Blogger Jen Lancaster's (jennsylvania.com) memoir, BITTER IS THE NEW BLACK: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office, in which the author, a former sorority girl and self-described pain-in-the-ass who defined herself by the trappings of success in the heady days of the dot-com era, explores what it's like to go from having a household income of almost a quarter million dollars to being evicted from a slum apartment in less than two years and ultimately discovering that money has nothing to do with happiness, to Kara Cesare at NAL, at auction.

*** Lit blogger "Moorishgirl" Laila Lalami's THE THINGS THAT DEATH WILL BUY, a collection of linked stories, about four Moroccans who illegally cross the Straights of Gibraltar on a lifeboat destined for Spain and how their lives are irrevocably changed, and A PLACE TO CALL HOME, a novel about a man and a woman from Casablanca, who, unbeknownst to each other, are siblings and whose lives unexpectedly come together under extraordinary circumstances, to Antonia Fusco at Algonquin.

*** Microsoft employee Rebecca Agiewich's BREAK UP BABE, a memoir based on her blog, about the quirky phenomenon of computers and relationships, showing how the Internet is changing the way we meet, communicate, and fall in love, to Allison Dickens at Ballantine.

*** Blogger and Spin magazine writer John Sellers's GOLD SOUNDZ: One Man's Journey Into Indie-Rock Idiocy, a humorous first person account of the Guided By Voices farewell tour, and a look back at the influence that the band and other stalwarts of the indie genre have had on the author's life, to Geoff Kloske at Simon & Schuster.

*** Essayist and blogger Marrit Ingman's INCONSOLABLE: DISPATCHES FROM A POSTPARTUM LIFE, a stylish memoir about the forbidden truths of postpartum depression, from the fallacies of Dr. Sears and the "designer parenting" movement to the difficulty of arranging childcare for one's suicide, to Leslie Miller at Seal Press.

*** Andy Greenwald's MISS MISERY, the story of a young aspiring writer and his virtual, alter-ego self, unfolding his struggle with identity and his attempts to connect with the world around him through the world of blogging, featuring first-person narrative and a variety of secondary media sources, such as diary excerpts, records of voice mails, e-mails, and IM conversation, to Simon Spotlight Entertainment Entertainment.

*** The former Senate aide, who serviced inside-the-Beltway players and blogged about it Jessica Cutler's THE WASHINGTONIENNE, to Kelly Notaras at Hyperion, in a significant deal, for publication in summer 2005. [A "significant deal" is between $251,000-$500,000.]

*** BELLE DE JOUR, the diary of a Ph.D.-turned-high priced call girl made famous on the blog of the same name, building up to her decision to leave her night job behind and return to academia this fall, to Amy Einhorn at Warner, in a good deal. [A "good deal" is between $101,000-$200,000.]

*** Mu Zimei's ASHES OF LOVE: THE DIARY OF LI LI, the sexual-revolutionary "blog" diary of 25-year-old columnist from Canton, who received millions of hits a day and but when the book was published in China, the book was banned, her website shut down, and she was fired from her magazine job, to Prometheus Publishers in Holland in a pre-empt, in a nice deal.

*** Blogger, geek, and the actor who portrayed Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Wil Wheaton's three books, two of them originally self-published, DANCING BAREFOOT and JUST A GEEK, almost unbearably honest tales of life, love, and the rigors of being an ensign on the Starship Enterprise, and WIL WHEATON'S WEBSITE DESIGN, to O'Reilly & Associates. [See my interview with the terrific Wil here .]

And then there's the blogger who may have started the whole blog-to-book trend:

*** Julie Powell's THE JULIE/JULIA PROJECT, a year in the life of Julie Powell, a 30-year old secretary living in Queens, who decided to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which drew a following (and press) through her Salon.com blog, to Judy Clain at Little, Brown, for six figures, at auction.

Finally, I suppose I should include the notice of my own next book deal:

*** Former war correspondent David Kline's THE HUMAN ELEMENT: Blogs and the Transformation of Business, blending a "big picture" view of the transformative impact of blogging on corporate America with a practical guide for using blogs to competitive advantage in every functional unit of the enterprise, to John Mahaney at Crown Business, at auction.

So there you have it -- proof that blogging and traditional media can co-exist peacefully, if not even profitably.

Who says bloggers don't like "dead tree" media?

September 14, 2005

Yahoo vs. The New York Times?

By hiring independent TV journalist Kevin Sites to cover wars and other "hot spots," Yahoo is clealy positioning itself to compete against mainstream media outlets in providing coverage of international events. The question is, how competitive can Yahoo truly be against the likes of the New York Times or Washington Post for this sort of news?

In other words, will readers find it as credible and trustworthy as mainstream media coverage in this arena?

I could be wrong about this -- God knows it won't be the first time -- but I suspect that for at least the near future, first-hand reportage of wars and other critical issues by Web media organizations such as Yahoo will be more of a complement to, not a substitute for, the coverage of the established press. With all the loss of respect the MSM has suffered in recent years, it still commands more reader trust, overall, then does new upstart media (including blogs). It also has the power of incumbency and far greater resources than upstart media like Yahoo.

Still, I have to say how pleased I am that an intrepid reporter such as Sites was able to secure Yahoo's backing and support. And truth be told, I have to admit that I'm rather envious. When I was humping mountains covering wars and revolutions, we didn't have digital video and satellite uplinks or satellite phones. The first time I crossed the mountains into Afghanistan, in fact, I had a notebook, a still camera, a Super8 camera with extra batteries provided by NBC -- and of course, the numbing realization that if anything happened to me, there was no way to call for help except to send a runner 3 days over the mountains and hope he got through.

Good luck to you, Kevin Sites. You've just become a bigger target, so keep your head down.