Sunday, November 20, 2005

PPS Co-Author Book: The Voice of Malaysian Bloggers

After reading a post from Mini Minishorts entitled “From Blog to Book” and post 24 hours processing while eating at a new Thai and Japanese fusion fast food restaurant in Low Yat, I come out with a brilliant idea: Why not the bloggers of Malaysia co-author a book based on our best postings?

Why and how should we do this?
  • Co-author is less tedious than publishing your own book, not many people can afford to churn out that much of meaningful text and have a hoard of loyal readers (besides an exceptional few). Thus co-author could be a good idea, as the burden is distributed to many writers, where each could produce their best peace. Successful co-author book I know of is Best Software Writing I (Editor is Joel Spolsky, most probably the most influential guy on software blog) and Game Programming Gems 1-6.
  • We could select the top 100 postings (or 101, 108 or 168, or other commonly used and auspicious number) by various bloggers voted by readers. How could we find or vote for such articles? Probably we could make use of existing infrastructure from PPS and BlogsMalaysia for entry submission, approval by panel and followed by massive voting. I am not sure whether PPS keep track of the popularity of postings pinged to PPS (based on the number of clicks). Probably these articles need to be error-checked, polished and enhanced before going into publication.
  • Probably we could lay down the basic framework of what kind of articles which we would like to publish (based on popularity), and choose a few categories to focus on (e.g. Love & Relationship, Humour, Serious Talk, Blogging, etc).
  • This would be a historical milestone probably for Malaysian Blogospehere, and probably the 1st in the world as well (Malaysia Boleh!).
  • It would bring great exposure of Malaysian Blogosphere to the masses and probably main stream media (from Blog to Book, sounds like quite an achievement to me). This book will like a guide and sitemap (Malaysian Blog Bible) for those not familiar with blogs, to look for their favourite blogs to read and probably be inspired to start their own as well (One Blog for every Malaysian, YEAH!).
  • We can make this into a good cause as well, where the article contributors can voluntarily donate all the income generated from the sales of book to one or more of our favourite charity organization. Fame and charity, sounds familiar.
  • With this project, the is a small little chance we could all afford to turn into professional bloggers and survived just by writing online.
I truly believe this could be a very interesting and meaningful project. Everyone could work together to contribute their little piece, and probably would be the greatest co-operative effort by Malaysian bloggers. Yvonne Foong had experience in book publication; maybe she could give us some guidance. Minishorts seems to write good English and sounds like a capable lady with enormous support and capability, maybe she could somehow bring this project to life. Probably the good people from PPS and BlogsMalaysia could collaborate on this matter, and all Malaysia Bloggers could provide enormous marketing and publicity for this book. As for me, I would like to help out in whatever I could.

Sound good?


The Great Swifty said...

Ultimately, it becomes more like a popularity contest instead of something that is created based on quality. The most popular and well-knwon bloggers with massive fanbases will most likely be voted, while the little-known ones like teeny weeny me will be shunned and discarded at the corner, continuing to languish within the pits of obscurity and resentment towards the fact that I was excluded from this wondrous act of patriotism.

The Great Swifty said...

So yeah, since it will make me feel miserable, it's a good idea.

d_luaz said...

Hmm, we could lessen the popularity influence by hiding the of the contributor's name during the voting process. Though some of the postings would still be recognisable by their hardcore fanbase, but it can't be helped. Part of natural selection process, the world isn't fair after all. If you could survive this process, probably it means you are good and you had work hard enough.

minishorts said...

two words:

for what?

d_luaz said...

Hmm, for fun and all the above reasons? Somehow it just sounds like a good idea (to me, at least).

Some might ask why bother publishing when all the postings are available free online? Well, I could think of 3 reasons: i) for non-blog savvy person to read ii) for people who are interested but aren't familar with Malaysian Blogosphere iii) as a collection, even Joel Spolsky published all his famous software blog entries, and another book for the collections of reputable software articles from other contributors (perhaps it is still feasible, since someone had done it before).

If you mean what is it in for you? Besides fame (which you already got) and lots of work (which you already have plenty of them), maybe as a milestone for bloggers and perhaps, for charity as well (if this plan is actually feasible).

At the end, it just sounds like a fun idea to me, definitely not about patriotism or Malaysia Boleh.

Yvonne Foong said...

Hmmm.. sounds fun. If we were to feature blog posts, they have to be of a certain standard, because no publisher would want to throw out unpolished work. This is a chance to give the little unknowns out there to be heard.

Why don't like this. We have a blogging contest. Someone chooses a theme (not specific topic) and we all blog about it. Selection is then based on the responses - which are the ones that were most effective and encouraged most discussion.

The reason I said "theme" and not specific topic is because a book needs variety. Let's just say our theme is Christmas. Everyone can write anything about "christmas". Be it personal reflections, short stories, thoughts, and what not. Or if we want to include a Malaysia flavour, we can choose themes like "uniquely Malaysia" or "childhood" and everyone will want to write about their life as a child in Malaysia! geeez... this sounds fun.

Now, the writings doesn't have to be of excellent quality. As long as they're reasonable and not pasar malam English, we can form a team of editors to fine tune the short listed articles.

As for the pay, unless everyone agrees, I would suggest a little token for the shortlisted ones. This would encourage participation and quality. Maybe RM50 per story. When the sales is more than enough to cover the initial cost of publishing, then the rest should be donated to charity.

Next, we need to find a willing publisher...

d_luaz said...

Yvonne, tq for the insight. I like the theme idea, definitely sounds more organised and focus.

Perhaps we should get the ball rolling in terms of article collection, as it would still be quite meaningful to have all these postings even though we might not be able to publish them as book. At least we get to work together and have lots of fun in reading and writing.

Next, we would need the infrastructure in place. I am hopeful of BlogsMalaysia or PPS might support this, else I would have to come out with something else which would take quite some time :)

Yvonne Foong said...

If we were to publish it into a book, then the articles cannot be available online. Otherwise, who would want to pay for content they can read online?

But if you want to do with online. How about writing articles and submit it to the PPS blog?

d_luaz said...

haha, this is a very good question.

If we don't post online, we can't do voting or natural selection, thus have to depends on panel (like in BlogsMalaysia).

If we do post online, we can get better participation and more transparency. Who gonna pay when they can get it free? Good question, but I did buy a book based on blog by Joel Spolsky (not sure I am stupid, or blinded).

You mean ping to PPS and write to their blogs? If we were to do it online, we need to have a mechanism to submit, moderate/approve, post, vote and select (which means more work).

Back to the Question, to do it online or just a collection of articles for a normal co-author book publication. My idea is always online as it brings more participation and fun (though this model might not be economically feasible). Perhaps we should just have an online e-book then, haha. Then this would seems like a writing competition (rather than book publication), I think PPS organised something like this before, rite?

I definitely could use more opinion and guidance.

Yvonne Foong said...

Joel Spolsky's book is on programming.

As far as I know, people would not pay for what they can read online. Those who do are just silly if you ask me.

Joel Spolsky's book is self-help, based on his own knowledge, and I believe he wrote unique contents as well, not just from his blog.

But now, you're talking about blog entries and short stories. It would be nice to have a local short story anthology written by bloggers. Also, in typical traditional publishing, authors will be signing rights over to the publisher. In which, during the term of the agreement (usually a year or lifetime), the story cannot be published elsewhere. This is a common practice in the industry. No publishers would want to do a loosing business.

But if you want to do it online, I doubt there will be much response. Obviously, everyone is very busy with work and their own lives. Look at PPS and blogsmalaysia. They are trying very hard to keep going. Unless you pick this project up on your own, and not rely on others, it's likely to take flight easily. But then again, I doubt many would be keen on writing articles uniquely for this project if the prospect of getting published in print is not involved.

d_luaz said...

I guess u r right in many ways (including the fact I am silly in buying the book).

Okay, it seems like to get it published in the book, u can't publish it online (unless you do self publication). And if we do it online, we won't get much support as it is not gonna be published in a book.

So where does that lead us? To organise a collection of articles for book publication offline is not my forte, neither am I the most suitable candidate to do it. Though it is still fun, just that I can't rally enough supporter for this project (I have swiftfire, Yvonne and me). I could participate though.

What should I do then? It seems all so gloommy with no much favaourable options left. I am not capable of rallying for a co-author book, and I can't get people interested to post online (for what purpose?). Seems like I am pretty much stuck. Another idea is, how can I find out which is the most popular postings of Malaysian Blogospehere. Perhaps something can be done there.

Yvonne, thanks for the valuable input and sharing of your experience. I am pretty much stuck here.