May 23, 2006
THE PBJ INTERVIEW
by Bob Sassone
Do you realize that every single blogger in the world is slapping themselves in the head right now? Because they didn't think of the idea for The Lost Blogs? It's such a perfect idea, and you've really capitalized on a trend, the timing, everything.
Yes, I do realize this.
Although the timing would be even more perfect six months from now when there's 70 million bloggers. Then again, according to Technorati and the "blogs doubling every six months" had I waited until a year from now to publish this I'd be hitting 140 million bloggers.
Then again, I'd probably be slapping myself in the head by then because someone would have already beaten me to it by then.
So yeah. I realize that.
Was it hard selling the concept of the book, because it's about blogs, or have blogs made it into the mainstream where everyone knew what you were talking about?
Surprisingly (to you and me), some publishers didn't think the country was on-board with blogging just yet. Some publishers came back to me after they read the proposal and asked, "well, can they just be lost journals from historical figures instead?"
Of course, my answer was no -- I wanted to be able to have fun with the technological aspect of blogging and meshing that with historical figures. Like having Mozart be pissesd off because Antonio Salieri was streaming bootleg versions of his concerts on his blog. Or having Helen Keller have her own blurry photoblog. Or having Gutenberg, who created the printing press, instead create his own Gutenblog type service (like Blogger or Typepad). The book pretty much breaks down into three types of blogs. Ones that are all about the technology (like Joan of Arc having trouble getting the URL that God has asked her to get in order to communicate his will), blogs that are humorous because we know what will happen to these historical figures (like the Captain of the Titanic talking about his going away party and retiring after the voyage) and blogs that contain almost too much information about historical figures -- John Wayne Gacy and his haiku poetry about clowns immediately comes to mind.
So, back to the Publishers and the proposal -- eventually, Warner Books stepped up and made an offer, they totally got it and my editor Jason Pinter knew that when this book was released that blogging would definitely be way more mainstream than in early '05. And if you look at the mainstream media today, from magazines to TV shows to news channels -- blogging and bloggers are no longer considered out there on the fringe... They're a legitimate part of pop culture and journalism.
Yeah, regular journals would have been limited. I particularly liked the Murrow page (made to look like Drudge) and the Liveblogging JFK assassination! page.
Yeah, the liveblogging fad has always amused me -- the beat by beat thoughts of bloggers as "certain events" were going down. I also am fond of the Charles Lindburgh live-blogging of his transatlantic flight. He basically goes crazy and starts talking to himself. I mean, wouldn't you?
There's a lot of blogs in the book. Anything you left out?
Well, I initially was asked to write 200 blogs for the book -- but then the book came in way longer than anyone expected -- like 350+ pages. Since the book needed to stay within a certain page range to guarantee a certain selling price (humor books priced for $14.95 don't sell as well) -- I ended up cutting 25 of the entries from the book. Among them, blogs for everyone from a beligerant Lenny Bruce, a lonely and single Queen Elizabeth and a blog by Barry Bonds father Bobby Bonds, who writes about his son becoming obsessed with Flintstone's Chewable Vitamins.
So, there really are LOST blogs from The Lost Blogs.
You should post some of the lost Lost Blogs on your site. So tell us a great, juicy story about working in television.
I may very well do that, Bob. As for a great, juicy story about working in TV -- while I do have a few, if I want to continue working in TV, I should probably keep them to myself. Let's just say that one involves a salad, saran wrap and a TV star throwing a fit in front of yours truly. I'll never look at a chicken caesar salad the same ever again.
So any advice for bloggers who want to get a book deal?
I think when it comes to getting a book deal, it's all about the book (and not about the blogging). My book is obviously a unique scenario -- but publishers want to buy books that either have really unique concepts, are really engaging or are written by people with really unique and interesting voices. If you have those elements, I think you're half of the way there.
So you were on Design on a Dime. Is the room you had redone still in good shape?
Believe it or not, it is! A lot of people ask the same question, "did the room fall apart after they did it?" I guess after all the Extreme Makeover drama with people's houses never fully being finished, they think it's the same thing on Design on a Dime. Thing is, Design on a Dime only spends $1,000 and they stick with the kind of things you really can't screw up: paint, furniture and lighting. Love the room -- it's my office and Kristan Cunningham's scent still wafts through the room on particular warm days.
Gotta love that, right?
What are you working on now?
In addition to working on a proposal for a new non-fiction book and writing daily on my own blog, I'm currently trying to setup the TV version of my first book, Consumer Joe, the TV show inspired by The Lost Blogs and working on a variety of screenplays for film and TV. I'm also trying to get the makers of Lucky Charms to put out a special edition marshmallow-only version of their cereal for the holidays. As you can imagine, the toughest of all the above challenges is the cereal thing.
Birthdate/Birthplace: Aug 17th, Smithtown NY
Favorite TV shows: Battlestar Galactica (the new one), Lost, Boston Legal, Robot Chicken, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Favorite movies: The Natural, Shawshank Redemption, Three O' Clock High, Rushmore, Kentucky Fried Movie
Favorite writers: David Sedaris, Rodney Rothman, Dave Eggers, Ken Grimwood, Piers Anthony, J.D. Salinger
Favorite music: Remy Zero, They Might Be Giants, Keane, Ben Folds, Coldplay, Radiohead, Terra Naomi, Matt Pond PA
Favorite food: Any food wrapped in food (i.e., calzone, hot pockets, bagel dogs, etc)
Favorite drink: Any kind of water, infused with carbonation and a sugar substitute of some kind.
Blogs you read often: Boingboing, McSweeneys.net, Defamer.com, Laist.com, TheOnion.com, Bestweekever, Overheard in NY
Five items in your glove compartment right now: Empty Wells Fargo deposit envelopes (they're always out of them at the ATM), a dent magic marker in the color of my car's paint, a hip looking skater hat for those hip-necessary moments, license & registration.
You'd make the best James Bond because: I know a lot about gadgets. I'm also not afraid to drive fast. Or get hit by lasers in the crotchal area.
Your idea of sexy: Axe Body Spray
Best writing/career advice you've ever received: Write what you're passionate about, not what you think "the industry" is looking for -- because by the time you finish writing what you think the industry is looking for, they're not looking for it anymore.
Worst: Make it more commercial.
Leno or Letterman? Letterman, all the way.
Paper or plastic? Hybrid of both. Plastic inside a paper bag.