Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"I getz book deel? KThanxBai!" When Web sites become books

Sometimes, all it takes is a quick flash of inspiration to end your spell of writers block and get your book picked up by the ever powerful traditional publisher. Other times, all it takes is maintaining a Web site with pictures of cats and other small critters speaking broken English in block letters to land you a deal (bear with me, this is post is a legitimate one-I promise).

A few posts ago, Stephanie Mayabb talked about the recent rash of movie studios pulling inspiration from literature to fill the seats at the local cinema. Though blogs have been the source of book deals for years, I’ve noticed several, um, unique blogs being tapped by top publishers recently. Take a look:


The LOLCats Web site presents several photos everyday of cats and other animals speaking “Kitty Pidgin”. I won’t get in to the linguistics of it all, but the sentences surprisingly make sense and animals are just so darn cute. The owners of the photos take pictures of their pets and then superimpose little sayings in block letters on them. It sounds insane, because it is, but the Web site has taken off and garners thousands of unique visitors each day. The site has even been featured in Business Week, TIME and the Wall Street Journal. Early this year, the proprietors of the LOLCats juggernaut secured a book deal with Gotham Books. The book will feature pictures from the Web site and will be narrated by Professor Happycat. You just have to check out the site to see what I’m talking about.

Postcards from Yo Mama:

Yesterday, GalleyCat and the site owners made the announcement that this blog will be the next to become a book. Another favorite of mine, Postcards From Yo Mama features reader submitted e-mails from mothers. My favorites are the IM transcripts. The blog definitely reminds me of the short-lived period during which my mother and I tried to communicate via IM.

Extreme Pumpkins:

For those of you who take pumpkin carving seriously, this is the Web site and book for you. The guide to jack-o’latern carving has been wildly successful. Released by Penguin in September 2007, it’s currently on its third printing and has sold over 10,000 copies. Author Tom Nardone made a bevy of high profile media appearances and you can track the book’s success here. I’m not precisely sure what order the Web site and book deal came in, but I can say I know that I’ll never carve a lame pumpkin for Halloween again.

And in an alternative to goofy coffee table pieces, books with more serious topics that were borne from blogs and Web sites have made waves as of late. The best example I can think of is the PostSecret project. The project began as an art exhibit in 2004 in Washington, DC. Creator Frank Warren launched the blog on January 1st, 2005 at Blogspot and presently uploads 20 new postcards with secrets to the blog every Sunday. Since the project launched, Warren has published several books packed with secrets from people around the world and the blog won Weblog of the Year for 2007.

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