Monday, August 12, 2013

Utah Author Guest Post: Mark Hansen


Mark Hansen is a local author and blogger. He has published two cookbooks on Dutch oven cooking with Cedar Fort (a Utah publishing house): Black Pot for Beginners and Best of the Black Pot, with two more forthcoming. Mark's interests are diverse and range from, of course, Dutch oven cooking to music and LDS culture. You can find him on his blogs and on Twitter.

Now, without further ado, I give you Mark's guest post.
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Reasons Why Publishers Like Bloggers

I first started blogging in 2005, because I’d heard about it, and it sounded fun.  I created a space, chose a topic (a religious pop culture blog) and started writing.  I must have really enjoyed it, because, before long, I had added another blog about Internet marketing (my day job), and another about my musical hobby.  I really liked the concept of being able to spout off my opinion and watch the traffic tracker draw mountains and valleys on the charts.  Occasionally, I’d hit a nerve and get a wave of comments.  

In 2007, I started what is now my primary blog, http://marksblackpot.com, and in so doing, became not just a blogger, but a food blogger.  I had recently discovered a blossoming interest in cooking on my back porch using a Dutch oven and charcoal briquettes.  I soon established a pattern of cooking my family’s Sunday dinner, and then blogging about it.  I would usually post up the recipe and the story by Monday or Tuesday of that week.  It wasn’t long before the black pot’s traffic overtook all of my older, more established blogs, and it kept growing, steadily, slowly.

I remember seeing the movie “Julie and Julia”, about a lady who cooks her way through Julia Child’s classic cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, while blogging about it.  I really enjoyed the movie, despite it being an obvious chick flick, because I could relate to cooking and blogging about it.

Of course, as a result of her blog, she gets a call from a publisher, and gets offered a book deal.

“Wow.  Wouldn’t that be cool!” I thought.  I also knew that probably doesn’t happen in real life.

Until in May of 2012, I arrived at my tiny little cube at work and opened up my emails, and there was one from Cedar Fort (http://cedarfort.com), a Utah-based publisher.  They had seen my blog and wanted to talk to me about writing a Dutch oven cookbook.  I don’t think my feet touched the ground the entire day.  They looked over my proposals and ended up offering me a 4-book contract, and it’s been a wonderful ride with them ever since.

Since then, I’ve come to realize that there are some real benefits, from a publisher’s perspective, to signing bloggers.  Here are just a few of them.

Bloggers write.  A lot.  

Successful bloggers write and post in their blogs on a regular consistent basis.  Some post daily.  I post a Dutch oven recipe about once a week.  This means that bloggers are accustomed to writing regularly, and they are able to focus on that task.  That also means that if a blogger has been around for a long time, they have a lot of on-topic content already in place.  In my case, that meant tried and tested recipes.  Hundreds of ‘em.

Bloggers are usually good writers.

This is not always the case, but you have to agree that if someone is writing daily, or even weekly, they’re bound to keep getting better.  Practice makes perfect, and all that.  At the very least, as a publisher, there’s a body of work they can review to get an idea of the quality the author can create.

Bloggers are often good at what they write about.

When I started blogging, I was not an expert at Dutch oven cooking.  I still don’t pretend to be the best.  But as I cooked and blogged and blogged and cooked, I got better.  And, I brought my readers along for the journey.  They learned right beside me.

Bloggers often already have readers.

This is a big, big, point for a publisher.  A successful blogger has a built-in audience following along.  It’s a pretty easy step, then, to promoting the new books to that pre-made audience.  Publishers like that!  It makes their job much easier.

Now, it’s true that every blogger and every publisher is different.  All I’m saying is that blogging is a great way to get things started, and to keep things moving once they are started.  Hey!  It worked for me and Julie, right?

4 comments:

  1. Mark, great post. That's awesome that you were "discovered" from your blog. Thanks so much for participating in Utah Book Month!

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  2. That's a really interesting story of how your books came to be! Even for bloggers who aren't going to be writers, all those points are relevant. It's always fun to go back and look at how a blog/blogger has grown over their time blogging.

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  3. Love this story! Makes me feel just a little bit validated for all the blogging I do! :)

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