Friday, December 21, 2007

I Am Interviewed About Blogging Heroes by Nano

Recently I was interviewed by Ido Hartogsohn for Nano, one of Israel's largest news sites. You can read the interview in Hebrew here. Here's the text in English:
You call your book Blogging Heroes. What are blogging heroes? What makes one into a blogging hero?

As a title, Blogging Heroes was suggested by my publisher, Joe Wikert. To follow up on the theme the title implies, I looked for bloggers who were admirable in various ways. Like any hero, a blogging hero would have to be someone others want to emulate.

How did you choose the bloggers to participate in your book?

I chose the bloggers based on several criteria. First, I looked at the most popular sites, those most favorited at Technorati, for example. But I didn’t want the book to be just the words from those who attracted the largest numbers of readers. I also looked for bloggers whose blogs other bloggers blogged about. and are just two examples.

And I looked beyond my own personal interests for blogs to include. is one of those. My own children are grown and I have no grandchildren, so parenting isn’t exactly a big interest for me, but I know many of the book’s readers have young children. Similarly, I included and The Unofficial Apple Weblog ( because hundreds of thousands of readers follow those blogs.

I had several goals in putting this book together. First, I wanted to make sure that the book wasn’t top-heavy with technical subjects. Second, I felt it was important to include as many women as I could. I would have liked to have included more women, but many didn’t get back to me when I tried to set up interviews (true of many male bloggers, too). They may have been too busy blogging to talk about blogging. But there are a good number of female bloggers who have something to say; perhaps there’s a book there.

Finally, I looked for unusual blogs--blogs that didn’t confine themselves to gadgets and computers and hobby interests. Deborah Petersen’s Life in the Fast Lane ( is one of those. So are and

Was there a common denominator between the blogging advices the different bloggers you interviewed gave? Do you have a few popular ideas to mention? Is there a formula for a popular blog?

The common denominator in advice was to blog about your passion--something in which you are intensely interested. Other tips from the bloggers in the book involve persistence and blogging regularly (don’t disappear for a few weeks, then return and expect your readers to still be there). Dave Taylor ( emphasized the importance of participating in other blogs. (At the same time, Chris Anderson of told me he doesn’t comment on others’ blogs.)

The formula for a popular includes all of those things, and many more subtle concepts--some unique to this or that blogger. But all recommend patience, more or less “If you build it, they will come” mindset. More than one blogger stated that someone starting a blog now should expect to wait a year before seeing substantial traffic.

Who surprised you?

First and foremost was Frank Warren, of Frank has an intense dedication to this project--and he doesn’t view it as a moneymaking project or a freak show. He treats the secrets with respect, which is one reason he doesn’t have ads or otherwise try to monetize He has been granted an important public trust, and handles it that way.

I was also surprised by Deborah Petersen (, who also doesn’t try to monetize her blog. She covers such a wide range of subjects and spends dozens of hours each week blogging. She researches every post as if she was writing on assignment for National Geographic or The London Times. She is really dedicated.

Robert Scoble keeps up with over 700 different blogs--wow!

Chris Anderson wrote this very entertaining paragraph about the book's winning strategy:
This is very clever. First, Banks created a book by appealing to the vanity of bloggers, which is always a safe bet. Second, the book is mostly just those interviews with a few paragraphs of introductory text and talking points at the end. User-generated content! ... Wiley is giving away the book in small chunks, harnessing the combined distribution (and ego) of the prominent bloggers that are featured in the book. Each of us promotes the book to promote ourselves, and the book gets the collective blog buzz. Others who have done what I'm doing in promoting their own chapter include
Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing, David Rothman at TeleBlog and Steve Garfield.

Very clever indeed.. :) Any comment on that? Was that kind of winning strategy in your mind when you decided to write the book?

The idea of promoting the book via the blogs it covers was a natural one, but it didn’t come along until after I started interviewing subjects. The way Chris and some others have described it, it’s promotion by ego. It seems to be working; sales are really good with the book out just two weeks now, and there’s lots of favorable response to the chapters and excerpts that have been posted. In addition to the chapters posted by the various bloggers, there are excerpts at, and I frequently post summaries and interesting quotes from the bloggers at my Real Writing Life blog, which is at

You also used a pretty interesting marketing method, allowing bloggers to publish chapters from the book on their site. What was the idea there, and aren't you afraid that it will stop people from buying the book when they can get it online?

I think the interviews (and, in all modesty, the biographies and background information I wrote) are so interesting that people will want to have it all in a convenient format they can refer to often. Which is the hardcopy book itself.

Getting someone else to place chapters on popular, high-traffic Web sites is of course an obvious marketing device, perhaps the best way to get buzz started. I’m waiting to see others do the same thing. We’ve had blogs turn into books, and books turn into blogs, but this is the first time that multiple blogs have promoted a single product in concert. I guess we could call it “distributed book promotion.”

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