Why your Blog Fiction will never be published


I grew up in a mostly Christian community and didn't learn much about other religions. When I did start learning about other religions I found out many things that fascinated me. One of the things that fascinated me about Islamic theology when it comes to translations of their holy book, the Qur'an. You see, the Muslims believe that the Qur'an was divinely inspired and is the literal word of God. Therefore, any published version of the Qur'an in a language other than the original arabic is considered only an "interpretation" of the Qur'an. It is not considered to be as good as the original. Blog fiction (minus the divine inspiration part) is the same way. A published version of a blog fiction is not going to be the same as experiencing the original online.

Let's pretend that you write a blog fiction site that becomes insanely popular. You have tens of thousands of readers. One day a publisher contacts you and wants to take your blog and make it into a book. Great! All you have to do is take all of your posts, paste them together, and send it in as a manuscript. Or do you? Should you fix all of your misspellings? Probably, well, except for that one that lead to a really long conversation in the comments section. Oh wait, the comments! What about them? Do you put those in the book too? Maybe only some of them? Will it be the same without any or some of the comments?

Let's say you do finally get the manuscript assembled and published. There are a lot of things that make Blog Fiction unique. The interaction, the performance, and the instantness, to name just a few. Now let's think about what would happen to all those things if you were to read a dead tree published version of it.

There is no interaction in a book. Not with the character, author, or other readers. The best you can do is join a book club and talk about it with a few people that may or may not be at the same point as you. There is no performance interaction with the characters either. You can no longer ask them a question when you think of it.

What about the instantness of it? If your blog was taking place in real time you may have been talking about or mentioning current events. Reading it on paper months or even years later is not going to give it the same fresh feel as reading the first time it was published.

I'm not trying to squash anyone's dream of selling print copies of their works. I just want to give a reality check. Fiction created with one medium in mind is going to translate perfectly to another. You may not have to go as far as calling the print version an "interpretation" of the original, but it would be accurate to call it an adaptation, or just a partial reprint.


joel wyatt said...

I haven't been too interested in picking up any of the "blog-to-book" stuff (i.e., "Stuff White People Like") so far, but I've been thinking about checking it out for just what you're talking about above.

I think your logic is sound, but it's all just a bunch of hypotheticals until that one blogfic "breaks through". For my part, I could see incorporating (at least) portions of a comment section, if it would be integral to the plot.

As far as immediacy is concerned, I definately try to incorporate that (i.e., the closing of the Rocky Mountain News, or the"real life superhero" who recently turned up in Denver), but never at the expense of what I would like to have someday in print...

DustinM said...

>>I think your logic is sound, but it's all just a bunch of hypotheticals until that one blogfic "breaks through".

Ah..., but it has happened before. Cheeseburger Brown's Simon of Space was quite popular and was put to print. Unfortunately, the original site no longer exists so we can no longer compare the original to the published version.

joel wyatt said...

VERY cool. I'll have to read the story as-posted; but yeah, I wish he had at least some commentary / examples of what was changed (and why)

5ws1h said...

"Let's pretend that you write a blog fiction site that becomes insanely popular."
Ok, I'm ready!
Print? Who cares about print! I just want someone to read and comment on my blog fiction blog. The blog may never become the book, but writing a blog fiction blog from the point of view of a character IN your book could be a powerful marketing maneuver.

DustinM said...

5w, I've seen blogs and/or diaries of main characters from a famous book or movie. They are usually written as an afterthought.

I wish I could remember an example, but one escapes me at this point.

Isaac said...

Doing a blog fiction blog, not as an afterthought but with foresight, could be a powerful marketing tool.
You could generate interest, and create a reader base, before promoting or publishing a book containing that blog fiction character.

DustinM said...

I agree.
By the way, 5ws1h = Isaac, right?

5ws1h/Isaac said...

Kinda-sorta but not really.
5ws1h = fictional blog fiction writer.
Isaac = blog fiction writer's fictional creator.
Sometimes even I get confused who I am.
That's what you get when you do Blog Fiction within Blog Fiction. :-O

Melanie said...

I agree - converting a blogfic to a book is an adaptation. Different medium, so changes required.

Mine would be easier than most, I think. It's real-time, but in an 'alternate' 2009 (with an apocalypse and all). No comments to worry about. The main problem would be the size - it's already over 145,000 words. Ouch. ;)

And hey, if someone wanted to publish it and pay me? I'm not gonna say no. I'd be happy to adapt it. It just wouldn't be the same as it is online.

Oh, and Isaac? You hurt my brain. ;)

cap'm said...

Christian men have the power of preaching, which makes the prayer.

Victor said...

I think it would be a good idea for a blog to be published to a book in the format of a magazine. The posts would then be articles with the comments as reader feedbacks. If future editions of the book are published, they could contain different posts altogether. The magazine format would of course be a full colour thing with pictures and stuff. It's just an idea, but, who knows?

And, there's another thing. There's a story I originally created to be a screenplay, but I haven't put the script together. I'm thinking of writing it as a blogfic, and then later adapting it as a movie, but I fear that if the blog becomes successful, those who have read the blog might not want to in out and see the movie.

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