If I had a nickel for every time someone told me I should write a book… (A nickel??? I’d be foolish for not asking for a loonie to cover the rate of inflation since someone coined that phrase. Or foolish for throwing in that pun.)
Stephanie wrote it in a comment, and instead of writing a huge reply I’ve decided to write a post. When someone says “You should write a book” I say I have, it’s this blog. With more than 4,750 posts it’s a pretty big book already. I just spread out the writing over 11 years and ignored the book format, publishers, deadlines, a thesis, linear thinking, and learned how to put it on the internet myself. But why don’t I write a proper book, with covers and a spine? Here are 20 reasons why, in no particular order:
- I’m a chronic revisionist. I write late at night in various states of wakefulness and often return to the post the next day to fix errors or rework sentences. Sometimes I review the posts and wonder where on earth my mind wandered to when I typed it out, but there’s always an opportunity to revise it to make sense. As someone passed along to me recently, the phrase is “Write when drunk, edit when sober.”
- I can reference previous writing and add external links. You want to go down the garden path, reader? Sure, why not. Go wherever you want.
- Content can be random. Each post stands alone, and I don’t have to make them connect to each other at all.
- No real deadlines. I can also schedule the post to publish in the future, or in the past.
- Content is published in installments, not all at once. I can write every day, skip a week, be prolific or just write a line or two.
- Content easier to index. Remember the index at the end of the book? Don’t need it, there are other ways to search and index content. Search engines do a lot of that work for us, anyway.
- Readers can filter by topic, tags, time, author. It’s a big archive, I don’t expect anyone to read even a fraction of it. You can find what you’re looking for and skip the rest.
- Wider audience. My blog is free and available 24/7, wherever there is an internet connection.
- RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) fetches my writing for you. What could be easier?
- Additional features such as widgets, plugins, tag clouds. With a large archive, these become more and more valuable as a means to serve up the content in different ways, such as frequency by tag clouds. On the sidebar you’ll see a widget for Top 10 Posts & Pages, family sections, and the latest tweets in my Twitter feed. Not even eBooks show content this way.
- Readers can translate my blog themselves. Most books are not translated and published in different languages because it’s expensive. Blogs can be translated instantly, although not very well. But online translators are improving.
- A variety of media (videoclips, audio, text, music, slideshows) can be embedded. This is a big one for me. I like media-rich blog posts. Not always, but at least one picture enhances.
- Password-protection by post and page. I don’t do this often, but I like having the option.
- Stats. Another big one for me. I’m a stats nerd, not just for this blog but it’s been part of my working life, too.
- This writing platform is free. Sure, I pay for hosting but my operating costs are covered by a mix of advertising and invoicing. I’ve been using WordPress since 2005 for my blog, which is free. Before that it was on Blogger, which is also free.
- No promotion required. No book tours or paying for advertising.
- Self-publishing. I could self-publish a printed book, but it would still cost me and it’s a hassle deciding on a print run.
- Environmentally-friendly. No trees or shelf space required, and it doesn’t need to be lugged around. Imagine if I’d printed out all my blog posts WITH the pictures? I’d kill a lot of trees.
- Interface control. I can change the template, fonts, etc. whenever I want. This blog has undergone a number of facelifts already. I wish I’d kept screencaps of them all.
- Evolution. This can only really happen over time, and a blog ends only when the writer decides (or it’s the end of the writer). There is no unfinished blog per se, while there are unfinished books. Once a book is written it can’t be extended, only followed up with another book published separately. I like the continuous nature of a blog versus the beginning-middle-end format of a book.
So there you have it, folks. The book format just doesn’t work for me, it’s not my style. Blogging’s been around for many years, and it’ll stick around as long as there are writers like me who enjoy the freedom of writing whatever and whenever we feel like it.