Archive for March 27th, 2010

From blog to book…

Saturday, March 27th, 2010
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BakerKline

Baker Kline

In a She Writes radio broadcast yesterday: Kami Wicoff interviewed Christina Baker Kline about that formidable topic, creating a dynamite book proposal.  One message came across clearly:  Don’t underestimate the power of the internet.  It’s turned the whole world of publishing upside down.

One obvious example is the blog-to-book phenomenon — tricky to negotiate, because it has to be more than pouring your web content onto the printed page.  And if the blog suffers in the transition, it will hurt book sales, too.  Galleycat describes the negotiations here that resulted in Citadel Press acquiring book rights to PleaseFireMe.com.

The more high-end of these kinds of transitions won’t involve movie rights.  More scholarly authors actually have to develop an idea, a process that doesn’t lend itself to snippy blog posts.  I wrote about one solution here:

A scholar wants to tease out an idea for a book. He writes a paper. He flies across the state, nation or even world to deliver it for 10 minutes to a roomful of jet-lagged peers. He flies home. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But how does this time-honored academic cycle survive in the 21st century, when travel budgets are dwindling?

In the humanities, at least, an alternative is surfacing via the net: Arcade.

Roland Greene, head of Stanford’s Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, launched the website in November. Pretty much by word-of-mouth alone, and some nifty technological know-how, it’s now attracting more than 5,000 visitors a day.

Greene_news

Arcade maestro Greene

Arcade provides a venue for scholarly articles, an intellectual network, a public conversation, a digital salon and a sounding board for ideas before they wind up between hard covers. “In my field, it’s really a boon,” said Greene, professor of English and of comparative literature. “There’s nothing like it on the web.”  Read more…

Had a chat with Zach Chandler, web editor for Arcade, over coffee yesterday.  He told me that Arcade does have an advantage over many other blogs:  The site features 30 bloggers, not one.  And each of those bloggers likely has a cadre of students, somewhere.  That’s not even calculating for the cross-traffic the site produces among contributors.  Zach still hopes the Arcade numbers will go up dramatically in the coming months.  (They’re currently at about 5,000 visitors a day.)

Meanwhile, if you want to hear Baker Kline’s webinar about “How to Write a Non-Fiction Book Proposal That Sells” — next Wednesday from 1 to 2 p.m. — check this out.