Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Success as an Anonymous Blogger

So on Monday I posted about how Klout scores matter to publishers and agents, to the dismay of writers who just want to concentrate on producing a great novel. Everyone in the comments (thank you for commenting and discussing!) seemed to agree that a) Klout doesn't matter and b) social media is about being social rather than numbers. I was heartened!

And yet, numbers do matter--and it turns out, they matter even when you're anonymous.

Also on Monday, The Intern's identity and bookdeal was announced on PW and her blog. (HUGE congrats, Intern!) The Intern has been blogging a long time, and always made it clear she was writing and publishing a book(s). I'm sure I'm not alone when I wondered how having an anonymous blog that had a huge following, hit count, and comment rate helped your book sales when you didn't say who you were.

Turns out it didn't matter. Here's the PW announcement:

In a six-figure, two-book pre-empt, Molly O’Neill at HarperCollins’s Katherine Tegen Books bought North American rights to Hilary Smith’s YA debut, Midnight at the Radio Temple. Laura Rennert at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency handled the auction for O’Neill and said the novel, which is scheduled for summer 2013, is a coming-of-age story about a teenage musician who uncovers shocking family secrets during “an unforgettable summer of love and chaos, music and madness.” Smith was behind the now-defunct anonymous publishing blog, The Intern (www.internspills.blogspot.com), in which she chronicled toiling away as an unpaid laborer in the editorial department at a nameless publishing house; the blog became something of an industry phenomenon in 2009, drawing, at its height, 10,000 visits per month.
Congrats to The Intern/Hilary Smith! And congrats to her for using her blog popularity after all to her advantage. Maybe it is as simple as unmasking yourself to your legion of followers--in fact, how cool was that? We all wondered who she was and what her book was, and now we know. And we all paid attention when she revealed herself because we wondered.

What do you think? A depressing sign that matters number, a clever and successful marketing ploy, or....?


Meghan Ward said...

I think some numbers matter more than others. People have lost faith in Klout because of the recent algorithm change, but I imagine it will regain the respect of users before long. Google Friend Connect is going away, and Google+ will replace it, so those numbers aren't going to matter much longer. And yet Facebook friends/likes and blog hits do matter - because agents and publishers ask for those numbers. Kudos to the Intern for the six figure book deal - her anonymous blog was a huge success. But unless you're a huge success, I think you're better off blogging under your real name - IMHO.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

I wonder how much of it was people she knew. Not that her blog wasn't great, but let's say she she was a physicist blogging anonymously about physics and bringing in that number of hits each day and writing the same exact kind of novel. Would it have helped her get a book deal? Would it have mattered without some connections? I also wonder how blogging about writing or the publishing industry necessarily attracts readers. Let's say she was a physicist writing a book about physics and blogging about...writing and publishing. Even with that amount of traffic to her blog, would it have helped? How many of those people would have bought a book about physics?

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

maybe I'm missing something, but how did being the blog help her get the book deal? She must have told her agent about the blog...?

Sierra Godfrey said...

Hi Handy,

Although I am not privy to The Intern's deal workings, my guess is that the blog didn't specifically get her a book deal, but her blog is hugely successful and therefore her high visitor numbers mean visibility and publicity to her publishers. This in turn means some of their PR is done for them. So, a popular, well-trafficked blog means good things when you're anonymous or not.

My point here is that we like to think the book itself is the most important thing.

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