You're probably familiar with Gina Trapani from her extremely popular Lifehacker blog. Every day she posts a seemingly endless supply of great tips on technology and life in general. Gina is also the author of our bestselling Lifehacker book. I thought readers of my blog might be interested in learning a bit more about Gina, how the book writing experience went for her, how a blog can cross over into a hot book, etc. She was kind enough to supply answers to those and other questions:
JW: We're all thrilled with the first six months worth of sales on your Lifehacker book. How was the authoring experience for you?
GT: It was incredibly different than my only other professional writing experience, which is blogging. I'm no stranger to producing large amounts of copy every day, but posting to Lifehacker.com involves dashing off a couple hundred words and a link, and hitting the Publish button. Within seconds, readers are responding and discussing the item in the comments, and I repeat the process another 5-10 times before the sun goes down. The book, on the other hand, was a much longer, larger, slower process. It felt like a 9-month pregnancy! I loved having an editor - Lifehacker the book's development editor, Maryann Steinhart, was a pleasure to work with. It's a great feeling to have another set of eyes check your work, question you when things aren't clear and react when certain things work or not. I wish I had that on the web site!
JW: You were able to take a dynamic platform like a blog and partially convert it into a book; some would even say that's going backwards into "yesterday's technology". Was yours a unique situation or can you see opportunities for other highly successful bloggers to do the same?
GT: Whether it's print or online, readers want compelling content. A blog is a great way to test out a concept in the wild, and see if it can attract a large audience with a low barrier to entry. Mine wasn't a unique situation; I think there are a lot of successful blogs that would do very well as books, too. It just takes the right agent and publisher to recognize them. :)
JW: Anyone who follows your blog probably wants to know the answer to this question: How in the world do you find the time to generate such a high volume of great posts?!
GT: Ha!! Well, since Lifehacker.com is published by Gawker Media, my time is freed up to concentrate entirely on editorial. Being a network blogger versus an independent operation means I get paid to post (much like a magazine or newspaper writer gets paid), and it also means I don't have to do any site setup, design or system troubleshooting - my only job is to write the site. I spend the majority of my day posting to Lifehacker.com, and after almost 3 years of doing it, I've developed my sources and the ability to dash off several posts very quickly. Plus my three co-editors, and a Gawker intern who helps with moderation also help a whole lot!
JW: Speaking of time, what does a typical day in the life of Gina Trapani consist of?
GT: Every day is another exciting adventure in typing into web page text areas! :) My workday probably isn't much different than yours, except I work from home, and at least a few hours in my pajamas. I wake up just before 6AM on weekdays and immediately start posting the day's tech news. That may sound early, but since I'm on the West coast, it's already 9AM Eastern, so all the big news of the day has broken. It's up to me to make sure my readers get anything of note first thing, so I post pretty frenetically till about 9AM or so. Then I grab breakfast and a shower and a cup of tea, and slow down a bit, process email, respond to reader comments, and research my feature articles for the week, and less-time sensitive posts. I spend the day online, in constant contact with my co-editors and managers via IM and email. Often I take my laptop to the coffee shop or anywhere outside with wireless access and work from there. I make a point to go out for lunch and socialize whenever possible, because otherwise I'd go nuts being alone all day. Since I work from home there's not a whole lot of separation between home and work life, but I try to enforce boundaries. I am guilty of grabbing the laptop to dash off an idea or post after dinner or while watching American Idol. But I do try to avoid doing that whenever I can. Computer-free time is important.
JW: Who are some of your favorite bloggers...the ones you can't wait to read their next post?
GT: I love the Tricks of the Trade blog. Its short, to-the-point tips from people in all different careers. For awhile he stopped posting, and I was lost - when it started up again, I almost threw a party. I also jump on a new post to Merlin Mann's 43 Folders like a chocoholic on a Hershey's bar. 43 Folders was one of the inspirations for Lifehacker.com. Finally, Matt Haughey's A Whole Lotta Nothing, despite its title, always has a good link or interesting commentary by a really smart guy who's been around the internet block.
JW: How do you see the Lifehacker blog evolving in the future? Any plans to do anything differently, add new coverage, etc.?
GT: Lifehacker is slowly transitioning from a traditional blog to a community site. We've amassed a huge community of registered users, and our plans are to roll out more ways for readers to connect with each other, and us, and track their favorite people and posts on the site. We have some more community features rolling out on the site over the next few months. Connecting with readers is my favorite part about writing the site, so I can't wait.