Can bloggers be authors?

Recently, a well known Japan blogger self-published a book.  You’ve probably heard of him if you pay attention to expat bloggers in Japan.  His blog is Loco in Yokohama, and his name is Baye McNeil (more commonly known as Loco to his readers).  I’ve been a reader of his blog for more than 2 years now, and I’ve always found his writing very engaging.  He tells it like it is, no sugar-coating, and is very honest with his opinions about living in Japan.  His blog posts are sometimes controversial, but very thought-provoking.  But what separates him from most bloggers is his ability to tell stories through his blog.  He is a writer.  That’s the impression I get from his blog.  I highly recommend that you read it!

Now, he’s published his first book, “Hi!  My Name is Loco and I am a Racist” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  It’s an e-book for now, but a print versi0n will be available.  The title stands out, doesn’t it?  I haven’t bought it yet, as I’m waiting for the print version (I wonder if I could make it to his book signing), but if his book is written as well as his blog, it’s definitely a must read!

The whole thought of publishing has been in my mind for years.  Ever since I was in university, I’ve wanted to write a book.  I’m interested mostly in fiction, but I have been considering writing about my experiences in Japan, focusing on the stereotypes and misconceptions of Japan, while comparing its culture to that of North America.  Loco went with self-publishing, which is incredibly easy to do these days.  For example, Amazon supports self-publishers, and there’s pretty much no expense to the author, other than a small cut of the price of the book.  A popular self-publisher can potentially earn far more than an author who goes through a traditional publisher.  It’s very appealing.  The problem with self-publishing, however, is getting word out about the book.  You have to do all of the advertising yourself.  But with a good network of people online, word can spread quickly.

I’m the kind of person who loves paper books.  I’d love to see any book I publish in print.  However, with the increasing popularity of e-books and the diminishing importance of books in print, bookstores and traditional publishers, it seems that e-books are the way to go in the future.  It’s a strange feeling, though.  I’ve never actually bought an e-book, though I do read some public domain classics on my iPhone.  But one of these days, I’m going to have to get Kindle and buy e-books.  My book closet (yes, a closet) is overflowing with books.  E-books take up no space and are easily portable.  Big advantage, isn’t it?  But I like to hold the book and not worry about the battery dying.

So, yes, I am planning to publish a book sometime in the next 2 or 3 years.  I have an entire story in my head just waiting to be put into words.  It’s been in my head for 13 years, but I never got around to writing it.  I have a lot of planning work done on paper, some of it written back when I was in university.  Soon, the time will come for me to start the book itself.

22 Comments

Filed under Books, Writing

22 responses to “Can bloggers be authors?

  1. I am going to write a book! I didn’t know about self publishing. My. Dream.Has.Come.True!

  2. Good for you – go for it. Why not try approaching commercial publishers and agents first and use self-publishing as a back-up if you’re not sure? I went the self-publishing route for my first novel three years ago. As you say, the big issue was marketing, but the upside of only having sold a few copies is that when I am a big-name author, those early editions will be hugely valuable (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). Enjoy the writing

    • Of course, trying the traditional way is one thing I am considering. But I have plenty of time to think it over. I’m nowhere near that point at the moment. I am very glad that there is the self-publishing option, and it’s something that’s encouraging me to write.

  3. Quick answer, No, they can’t. Bloggers, in my opinion, are (at least the best of them) great at the short and quick. Like Cheetahs. Built for brevity. Not for the long haul. Now, some writers blog…abd blog well, but even when you read their stuff you’re not thinking “wow this is some useful information.” as much as you find yourself wondering “now why doesn:t this guy write a book?” At least that’s been my experience.
    The author title is reserved for those writers who can go the long haul and speaking from the tailend of a three year odyssey, it’s a mission! I blogged to prepare myself for it and get into the ractice of telling stories and writing everyday with a resposibility to an audience. It worked like a charm and eventually I produced stuff that was worthy of inclusion in a book…but it was a process! A purposeful one. From day 1 it was my stated goal. My first post was over 2000 words…LOL And despite the complaints of the short attention spans of the blog surfing world, I kept up the long posts to achieve my objectives (I’m just lucky readers hung in there with me and found what i had to say interesting some of the time)
    This is all to say if you want to be an author, whether traditionally or indepedently, you gotta think long haul all the time…cuz that’s exactly what it is for most of us (I still feel funny calling myself an author.,..gotta get used to this) Anyway, thanks for the props Jay-san!! You’re most righteous, and good luck with your endeavors as well…Know that you can count on Loco. I got your back!

    • Your comment was so long, I stopped reading it after the first paragraph. Just kidding! Long posts and comments are definitely a great thing to read. Writing a book is a long process, I can definitely understand that. In my case, I’ve never thought of writing full time, as it’s a difficult thing to do successfully. As I understand it, many authors actually have another job, and writing is additional income. I guess every person who aspires to be an author hopes to write full time, though. Is that your hope, eventually?

  4. I think bloggers can be authors, but they are not necessarily authors. I’m excited about Loco’s book because, as you say, he is an excellent writer. I’m curious to see what you have up your sleeve too! What you said about self publishing was interesting. I also have a book or two in me (I hope!) and I’ve always been concerned about self publishing. Personally, I think I need the reassurance of an editor or publisher telling me that my work is worth publishing. I’ll never say never, but I don’t think I will go down the self publishing route.

    • I’d like to wish you luck on your endeavour. Definitely going through a traditional publisher means that you should be worthy of publishing. You also get a much wider audience with the marketing being taken care of by the publisher. And just seeing your book in a bookstore would be an incredible feeling, I think. I hope you can do it!

  5. I’m also interested in publishing my book or photo book. I think that every blogger can be author at low cost thanks to some services.
    I’m looking forward to reading your own book.

    • Thank you very much. And good luck to you, too. You do a lot of photography on daily life, so I’m sure people would be interested in seeing that, if that’s what you had in mind.

  6. Damien Darby

    Yes bloggers can and should become authors. In this dawning new age of eBookery, writing and promoting an eBook is a splendid idea. I am currently working on both and it is basically a full time job.🙂
    I look forward to your book.

    Cheers

  7. Pingback: Can bloggers be authors? « calmapparatus

  8. Pingback: East Asia Blog Round-Up : 22/1/2012 | Eye on East Asia

  9. Pingback: All Eyez On Loco | LLP

  10. Hi Jay – interesting point you’ve hit upon here.

    The answer is – yes – bloggers most certainly can become authors – but there is a big difference from maintaining a personal blog, and writing a full length book that holds people’s interest and will sell.

    I wouldn’t consider myself a blogger, but like many who come to live in Japan, I wrote a regular blog (http://thefunkydrummer.blogspot.com) documenting my adventures in rural Japan (Ono, Fukui).

    Upon my return home, I used that blog to form the basis of a book called ‘For Fukui’s Sake: Two years in rural Japan’. It was a big challenge though to take my posts and weave them together into something with some structure, flow and story.

    As you noted – Amazon has made it possible for anyone to publish anything, regardless of quality. This means there’s an increasing amount of independently published books available, but because there is little or no editorial process, many may be sub-standard.

    On the topic of Japan, many books on gaijin adventures have already been written, so I think to make a book stand out, you’ve got to find a unique angle that hasn’t been covered much before.

    For me – that was the wild places and rural folk of inaka Japan. A Japan where snakes slither down school corridors, where bears hunt humans, and where foreigners are still considered curious creatures.

    Japan will always hold a lot of fascination for Westerners, so as long as you have an interesting story to tell, and can tell it well, there’s no reason why you can write a book and make it a success.

    Sam
    ForFukuisSake.com

    • NOTE: that should have read – no reason why you CAN’T write a book…

      Doh!

    • Thanks for the comment, Sam.
      I agree that with the rise of ebooks and easy self-publishing, it’s extremely easy for anyone to publish, and most would likely be poorly written. I think promotion, marketing and getting reviews is a great boost to a book. I’ll be working very hard on getting my book polished and I certainly have plenty of interesting, amusing and possibly surprising stories to tell. I have no intention to convert my blog into a book. Most of the things I’ll write about aren’t in my blog at all. This blog is more of a travel and photo journal, although I do have some experiences I’ve blogged about that will be written about in far more detail.

      Good luck with your book! I hope sales are going well for you.

  11. Bah. Can Tweeters be Authors? That’s the Question I have in mind for a long, long time…. but not as long as having a World inside your head for a longer, longer time that can’t wait enough into becoming a full-fledged BOOK! If you read my tweets regularly, you might know by now that when it comes to Technology or Internet-related vocab, I have no idea how it works. Kindle, E-books… Bah… The Oldenyouth isn’t ready for those. Too complicated for me. So for me, I prefer your old-fashioned paper or hard cover book. Besides, I like having a Library🙂

    Anyway, I too wish you good luck and success for creating your Story. So can Bloggers or Tweeters be Authors? I say, Yeah.. why not? I already wrote a Treatise and commentaries… they’re just not famous yet😛

    So says The Oldenyouth (who is also now busy planning his fiction Book).

    • Books are better, but harder to get out there to sell. Many publishers will refuse to look at a manuscript, while others will reject because it’s not mainstream enough. Independent e-publishing is a nice thing to have🙂

      But I agree, I want a library!

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