May 24, 2004

Bloggers and the literary agent who is trying to reach them.

The New Yorker has a piece about a literary agent, Kate Lee, who searches for bloggers to represent. In this search, she spends an hour a day reading blogs. (An hour!) The hitch is, they have to be willing to produce books:
Sometimes she writes to a blogger only to get the e-mail equivalent of a blank stare. The pseudonymous author of The Minor Fall, The Major Lift was particularly unreceptive. “What am I going to write a book about?” he replied. …

[W]hile she loves her bloggers, and has faith in them, it can be difficult to get them to be productive. “They all have day jobs,” she pointed out. Writing anything longer than a blog post is a commitment they don’t always seem up for.

Isn’t it just possible that people who blog blog precisely because they like this literary form? It’s not as if the idea of writing a book wouldn’t occur to a person without the prodding of a literary agent.

MORE: And I love the assumption that writing a book would be more time consuming. You can write a 365 page book in a year if you write a page a day. Don't you think the bloggers who impressed Lee were writing at least a page a day? It seems to me that the bloggers she contacted who didn't want to write books were genuinely interested in writing blogs, writing time-stamped entries that immediately reach out to the whole world. I'll bet the really good bloggers are generally much more "up" and energetic than your average novelist. A blogger has to leave entries every day, and the entries have to be good enough to make people want to come back. I have a sneaking suspicion a good percentage of novelists have long unproductive spells and are among the least up people around. And finally, if Lee really is interested in bloggers, why doesn't she have a more positive attitude toward blogging? I mean, aside from the fact that there is no role for the agent in blogging.


Anonymous said...

I hope she contacts you. I'd read your book.

Anonymous said...

"You can write a 365 page book in a year if you write a page a day."
I get your point, but I bet a book written like this would read like a page-a day-book, akin to a paint-by-numbers picture.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, you only need to average a page a day to appear to be a prolific book writer. Yet a seriously fast writer would write 15 or 20 pages a day, and an ordinary hardworking writer could aim for 5. My point is, it doesn't take that much work to produce a book: you could average less than a page a day and still appear to be quite active as a writer. Now, of course, a book requires some coordination page to page and chapter to chapter, but given that the rate of production isn't really impresssive at all, book writers are not engaged in a seriously impressive feat as compared to good blogging. That's my point. It's true that bloggers can ignore structure, because the blog form amounts to its own structure. But on the other hand, they have to start each day finding some fresh inspiration. Surely, that takes some commitment and energy! Book writers can throw away whole weeks or months and no one would even notice! Book writers can write whole chapters of pure garbage and toss it out and no one even sees that they've written garbage. So, I'm just saying, in the comparison between a book writer and a blog writer, it is far from clear who is putting in the greater effort.

Inspire said...

Interesting post. I blog for two reasons. 1. To have an outlet for self-expression and for inspiring writers. 2. To hopefully catch the attention of a good literary agent or publisher. I'd love it if an agent contacted me solely on the content and quality of my blog. I have novels waiting to be published.