Friday, June 11, 2010

Turning a Blog into a Book

By Jean Henry Mead

I never dreamed of converting my interviews at Mysterious People into a book when I started the blog site last year. But such good advice and life stories evolved that I couldn’t allow the material go to waste. I recycled a great many interviews and saving them for posterity seemed the right thing to do, especially after Carolyn Hart and Jeffrey Deaver agreed to contribute to the series.

I interviewed more than a hundred mystery writers and, unfortunately, not all of them made the cut, although my entire blog team here at Murderous Musings are included in the electronic edition: Chester Campbell, Beth Terrell, Ben Small, Mark W. Danielson and Pat Browning.

Since the interviews were accepted for publication by Poisoned Pen Press, I’ve seen Internet ads offering to turn blogs into books for $14.95. A great idea for a blogger’s memoirs but it's not very profitable for resale. I offered my book to three publishers, all of which accepted, so I was faced with a dilemma. Do I go with PPP, which only offered to publish for Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Sony readers? Two small, well respected presses also offered a print version but wanted to make changes. I finally decided to accept Poisoned Pen’s contract with the hope they would also publish a print edition or sell the print rights to another publisher.

Interviews with unknown writers usually don't sell books and I found the best time to approach a bestseller is just before a new release, which is probably why Sue Grafton agreed to an interview when V is for (Victim?) hits the market. Embolded from acceptances from Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Nancy Pickard, J.A. Jance and other publishing giants, I ask Janet Evanovich for an interview. So far no answer but someone from her hometown repeatedly appears on my visitor screen. I'd love to ask how some of her quirky characters came about.

I’ve been featuring quotes from interviewees at my Facebook site. Among my favorites is one from Nancy Means Wright: "Vermont writer Howard Frank Mosher nails up rejection slips and adverse reviews on the side of his barn and shoots holes in them. I just leave mine in a cardboard box and let my Maine Coon cats make a nest or pee on them. So send that manuscript out again!"

And from Louise Penny: "Finish the book. Most people who start books never finish them. Don't be one of those. Do it, for God's sake. You have nothing to fear--it won't kill you. It won't even bite you. This is your dream--this is your chance. You sure don't want to be lying on your death bed regretting you didn't finish the book." Lawrence Block was more succinct with his advice: "Write to please yourself. And don't expect too much."

If starting that first novel has you discouraged or you think you'll never get it finished, read what some of these writers have also gone through. Their stories are not only inspiring, they'll make you laugh and you'll wonder how the publishing business ever survived. (We writers must have inspired the invention of the straight jacket.)

I’ve had so many good interviews since Mysterious Writers was accepted that I’ll have to do another collection. I’d really rather be writing mystery novels but I began my writing career a news reporter, so interviewing comes easily. And the rewards are immeasurable.

I hope aspiring writers will discover something in this collection to help them in their struggle to publication, which is the main reason for the blog site as well as this book. Mystery readers will also enjoy reading about their favorite authors.

(Click on the blog title to read further about Mysterious Writers.)


Bill Kirton said...

Delighted that it appeared at last, Jean - but don't stop writing the mystery novels.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm delighted that you're included, Bill. Your interview is one of the best. And I won't stop writing mystery novels as long as someone buys and reads them. :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Flying is safer because pilots talk to each other. The same applies to authors who are willing to share insightful and encouraging information. Your interviews are the medium for that, Jean. And as you say, there are more to come. Good luck with it.

Sheila Deeth said...

What an interesting idea, and it sounds like it will be really helpful too.

Jean Henry Mead said...


Mysterious Writers is my fourth book of writer interviews and I'm not going to get rich doing it. I enjoy interacting with other writers and hope that it benefits aspiring novelists. There weren't any books like mine when I was struggling to write fiction.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Sheila. I think it's interesting that writers have such different ways to solve plot problems and manage to find a publisher. There are many avenues leading to publishing success.