Charlene Li: turning "Groundswell" blog into a book

John Shinal · June 4, 2008 · Short URL:

Apart from notable exceptions like Fake Steve Jobs Diary and Stuff White People Like, not all blogs are readily turned into book form.

That's because just stringing together a bunch of posts doesn't necessarily make for an interesting read -- or even a coherent one.

Even for long-time bloggers who are experts in their field, getting something ready to publish is still a lot of work, according to Forrester Research analyst and author Charlene Li.

Li blogged for more than three years about social networking and other Web 2.0 topics before attempting to turn the work into a book with colleague Josh Bernoff.

"There was a book inside me," Li told us.

That book is Groundswell, which examines the social networking trend and provides a road map for how businesses can use social networks to their advantage.

Once they decided to move forward, Li and Bernoff then used their blog and its audience to help with the research -- and the marketing.

Borrowing a page from the Open Source software movement, the pair posted the book's outline on the blog, also called Groundswell, and elicited feedback from its community of readers.

"Some people said we were crazy to do it" for fear someone would steal the idea. "But we thought, if you can write a book from an outline, go for it," Li says.

Once the book was published, that same community that had helped shape the book then went out and bought it, and soon convinced others to do the same.

So far, the book has been selling well on, according to Li.

Li's experience is just one example of how the Internet is changing the face of publishing. For another, check out these stories on Blurb, the online publishing service. 

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Interviews" series

More episodes