Like many blog-to-book success stories, Parisian Olivier Magny, a sommelier and founder of Paris’ #1 wine-tasting school, Olivier Magny’s Wine Tasting Company, and wine bar, Ô Chateau, started a with little thought of a book. He called the satirical blog about Paris and Parisians Stuff Parisians Like. Little by little the blog became quite popular. He later began thinking about writing a book but not about turning his blog into a book. Berkeley Books had other ideas and chose to release Stuff Parisians Like: Discovering the Quoi in the Je Ne Sais Quoi in 2011. It climbed to bestseller status.
I am pleased to have gotten Olivier to answer a few questions for me about his blog-to-book journey. Here’s what I find interesting about this success story:
- When his agent proposed his book idea to Berkley Books, the publisher choose to publish his blog.
- The continuity of style from post to post eliminated the need for much editing.
- He believes the real secret to blogging success comes from authenticity; he says he is a “lazy blogger” but he succeeded.
You booked your blog (repurposed posts). How many posts did you use from your original blog?
I included in the book almost all of the posts that were on the blog. Plus I wrote 50 new entries just for the book.
So what percentage of your book ended up repurposed posts as opposed to new content?
I’d say about 50-50.
What we wanted was to mix it up as much as possible! Going from “the word Putain” to “not drinking wine” from “Saint-Germain des Prés” to “foreign girls,” etc., I wanted each new article to come as an exciting surprise for the reader. I wanted to hop from one surprise to the next.
What kind of editing did you need to do to make the blog posts work in a book? Did you need to add transitions, revise for flow from one post to the next, rewrite because of the different timeline, etc.?
Not much at all. My focus was really on the quality of each article. I was lucky enough that no transition was needed from one to the next. The key for good readability was a continuity in both style, and humor. (How humorous does that sound, now?) So that’s what I mostly employed myself to do.
How did blogging a book or booking your blog make you a better writer?
When you write a blog, you see soon enough if people come visit your blog, if they come back, if they eagerly wait for your next post. Those are not only great signs but also, in my case at least, wonderful encouragements to simply keep writing.
Did booking your blog make you a better blogger?
I was never much of a blogger, but publishing the book actually made it even worse. A lot of things happened at the same time for me, and I didn’t have as much time as I used to have to keep writing new posts for the blog. I’ll take responsibility though – I work too much!
What advice would you offer to aspiring writers who might want to turn their blogs into books or blog a book?
I would say two things: Don’t try and be patient. Don’t try simply because we can all sense fakeness and marketing infused projects; people to respond to that. My second tip is simply due to the rhythms of the publishing industry. They will pick up a blog not only because it’s good but because it has a good following. Then, once you get a “yes,” be ready to wait a while until the book is actually available.
What one thing did you do that increased your traffic or brought in more unique visitors?
I am a very lazy blogger, so I didn’t do much at all. I guess I was lucky that people just liked what I wrote.
How long did it take for you to gain blog readers, and can you pin point any certain event that created a tipping point when readership increased noticeably?
I believe in my case it was gradual—I’d say after 3 or 4 months. People kept asking me to write more; that’s always a great sign.
You are traditionally published. How did your blog-to-book deal come about?
My agent was actually pitching another book I had been working on (a wine book, since wine is my day job). My blog was in my bio, and they simply said, “We’ll take the blog.” So it was extremely random.
I‘d say be genuine. And focus on the quality of what you do. Despite all the talking about social media, I believe that people respond to the same things on and offline.
About the Author:
Olivier Magny is a best selling author, sommelier and founder of Paris #1 Wine Tasting School and Wine Bar – Ô Chateau. He was born and raised in Paris.