Blog Books Go For Broke

It's the latest ploy to get rich quick: create a quirky blog, solicit a following and—voilà!—six-figure book deal. Last year Collins signed the creators of the photo blog Passive Aggressive Notes for a reported six figures; Christian Lander, whose blog Stuff White People Like has clocked 20 million hits this year, signed for $350,000 with Random House in March. Now loyal contributors to Postcards From Yo Momma can revel in anthologized maternal mail as well as the knowledge that the site's creators sewed up a "comfortable" deal with Hyperion.

But are publishers being smart? Many bloggers just repackage what they've already done. That can work, à la Robert Lanham's 2003 "The Hipster Handbook," which has sold 40,000 copies. But usually "the reading experience for a book needs to go deeper," says Brettne Bloom of the Kneerim & Williams agency. The media bloggers at Gawker, whose readership has topped a million a month, certainly learned that lesson after signing a rumored $250,000 deal with Atria last year. Sales to date? Fewer than 1,000, according to Nielsen. The fashion and lifestyle newsletter DailyCandy was another flop: its highly anticipated 2006 release has sold 44,337 copies. For Random House to earn back its advance on "Stuff White People Like," it'll have to sell 100,000 copies—a figure that would likely land the book on the best-seller lists. Next up on the reading list: how to get a book deal by blogging—and get people to buy it.