I couldn’t help but take notice when my Google Alert brought up this blog-to-book deal: Your Boyfriend and Other Guys I’ve Kissed: The Tails of Totally Tyler. It was written by someone named Totally Tyler. I looked at the cover. This was worth pursuing. Tyler shows what can happen when you blog—or blog a book—honestly, boldly and authentically. I don’t need to say more. Tyler says the rest.
In the beginning, there was no blog. There was just a hilariously bad date with a boy that dressed like Carrot Top. I documented the date in a letter to a friend. “This is really funny and well written,” she said. “You should consider writing professionally.”
I thought about it briefly—for, like, a second—but if I am anything, I am lazy. Trying to make a living by writing seemed like it might require me to actually get up from my couch, and as long as there were Little Debbie’s and porn, that wasn’t happening. Instead, I kept writing. I occasionally posted items on my MySpace blog. Before long, and much to my surprise, complete strangers were reading about my life as a single, gay man and my dating woes. Heartbreak after heartbreak, bad date after bad date, I documented everything. Nothing was too personal. I didn’t just write about my love life. I also wrote about my many jobs as a retail queen and how I eventually ended up working as an event planner. I wrote about growing up with my lovable but weird family of country bumpkins back in Indiana. I wrote about my friends and how I simply could not survive without them.
And then, in January of 2010, I moved the blog to my own website and started taking my writing seriously. In 2011, after a live reading, an author insisted on introducing me to his publisher, which resulted in a book deal. The publisher was interested in publishing a collection of my blogs.
Since you booked your blog (repurposed posts), what process did you use to find or choose the blog posts that went into your book? And out of how many posts did you choose and how did you then organize them?
Because my blog is based on my life, it made sense for the first book to start with the first blog posts, and because the blog posts read like a story, it made sense to keep everything in sequential order. After reviewing all of my blog posts, it was decided to divide the posts by the year in which they were written and to publish one year at a time. The first book is a collection of blog posts from 2005.
What percentage of your book ended up repurposed posts as opposed to new content?
I’d say a very large percentage.
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, etc.?
I did clean up a lot of grammatical errors, etc. I also changed names to protect the innocent and, at my editor’s suggestion, combined a couple of characters to keep things simple for the reader. I didn’t really change the flow.
Did you take your readers input (comments) into account before the manuscript went to press.
I did not take reader’s comments into consideration.
Did blogging a book or booking your blog make you a better writer or blogger and how?
I think it made me a better blogger and a better writer. I stopped worrying about writing long blog posts, fearing no one would read them. I was constantly editing myself and summarizing story points to avoid a long post. And, on the other hand, the entire process taught me a lot about editing and cutting unneeded sections.
What advice would you offer to aspiring writers who might want to turn their blogs into books or blog a book?
I’m a big fan of doing what you love. If someone loves writing and they have a dream of being a published author, then by all means, make it happen!
Do you have any tips you can offer on blogging books or booking blogs?
It’s difficult maintaining a full time job, editing a book and keeping up with writing blog posts. I would suggest writing for a half an hour every day, even if you feel uninspired. Keep those creative juices flowing! Another tip is to never accept a “no.” Keep going and going until it happens!
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 don’t really pay attention to my numbers, to be honest, so I couldn’t tell you when I started to gain the following I have. I’m more focused on the writing. I tried to do a couple of contests, but it was more of a hassle than anything. I receive offers from marketing companies wanting me to write about products for free swag, but I typically decline for fear of looking too gimmicky.
If you are traditionally published, how did your blog-to-book deal come about?
The publisher contacted me with an offer after another writer on their roster heard me read. I wasn’t too pleased with the publisher, so I am using Create Space for my second book.
What’s the most important thing a blogger can do to get noticed in the blogosphere and build an author platform or fan base?
I think the most important thing a writer can do to get noticed is write honestly and boldly.
About the Author
Totally Tyler is a legend in his own mind who aspires to be a legend in yours. After his birth in 1973 to a vending machine filler-upper and a grocery store cashier, he learned that he liked boys and disliked math. He didn’t learn these things immediately after his birth, mind you. He still likes boys and dislikes math. This is why he over tips. The math-disliking, that is, not the boy-liking. He spent his early years in small-town Indiana and his later years in big-city Georgia. Now, having run out of retail outlets in which he hasn’t worked and boys on whom he hasn’t crushed in the South, he’s escaped to Manhattan, where he toils away as an event planner. Things you should know about him are, in no particular order: He survived self-electrocution by the grace of Madonna; he comes off shy in spite of his love of an audience; he takes fashion risks that, had he stayed in the South, might have gotten him institutionalized; and he is at once grateful and sorry that his late brother watches over him (presumably shielding his eyes from the naughty bits). Oh, and he has a mutt named Lola who is middle-aged in dog years and who he loves more than he will ever love any boy. And in spite of all this information, you still only have a partial picture of Totally Tyler. But if you stick around long enough, you’ll get the whole one. He’s giving that way. (He’s also the author of the book, Your Boyfriend & Other Guys I’ve Kissed: The Tails of Totally Tyler and of the blog, The Life and Times of Totally Tyler.)
Lottie Nevin says
Great post, Nina, thank you 🙂 I’m looking forward to checking out Tyler’s blog and writing. I love his confidence, it’s very refreshing.
Amanda Socci says
This was such an inspirational blog post and story. I love how Tyler’s evolution as a writer happened nonchalantly, without him putting much thought into it. I also love Tyler’s simple advice to be bold and honest. That resonates with me as a sort of genuineness, which I believe I express in my own writing. Wonderful, fantastic story.
I always love reading about people that have been successful in blogging and turning them into books! I try to not to pay attention to how much I write or what I write. I just write and keep moving forward. Hopefully, that is the secret of success considering I have a 3-year-old that won’t let me write as much as i would like to at times….yikes!
Totally Tyler says
Thanks for commenting, you guys! I’m going to check out your writing as well! Keep writing!
Tyler’s story has the authenticity often looked for by agents and publishers. I hear this word thrown around a lot at writer’s conferences. But even if you self-publish, authenticity is important–obviously. Plus, Tyler has a good story–and a unique one. He also wasn’t afraid (isn’t afraid) to be honest. We get a real view into his life and into Tyler. That’s what makes his blog and his book “sell.” I’m really grateful to him for sharing, yet again, here on the blog, and so pleased so many of you learned something from him. Maybe he’ll come back and tell us about his self-publishing experience with book #2.