Writers who became famous by leveraging the internet?
February 25, 2008 11:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for names of writers that rose from obscurity to commercial/critical success from using the internet. Know of any?

Not personally mind you, but examples of writers who leveraged the internet to achieve some reasonable measure of acclaim. Thanks.
posted by JaySunSee to Computers & Internet (35 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Did you happen to catch the Academy Awards last night?
posted by ND¢ at 11:56 AM on February 25, 2008

Depending on your definition of 'commercial/critical success,' Cory Doctorow might fit into this category.
posted by box at 12:03 PM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ND¢: no, I don't watch tv (but I know DDL won for There Will Be Blood). That's the extent of my knowledge regarding the award show last night.
posted by JaySunSee at 12:05 PM on February 25, 2008

Mefi's own John Scalzi writes a bit about this sort of thing today.
posted by drezdn at 12:06 PM on February 25, 2008

Sergei Minaev, author of Духless (Dukhless), a hit in Russia, initially circulated part or maybe all of it through his website (I think he's on LiveJournal). See NY Times article.
posted by londongeezer at 12:06 PM on February 25, 2008

these authors published their first novels after getting their start as bloggers or by releasing parts of the novel for free online.

(it is, perhaps, not surprising that they are all are sci-fi authors)

Cory Doctorow
John Scalzi
David Wellington
posted by bl1nk at 12:07 PM on February 25, 2008

i believe ND¢ is referring to diablo cody the women who won best screen play.
posted by phil at 12:08 PM on February 25, 2008

Julie Powell, author of the Julie, Julia blog leveraged that writing into a book.
posted by mmascolino at 12:10 PM on February 25, 2008

phil has it.

A young lady who goes by the pen name Diablo Cody won the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay for the film Juno last night. The following is from that wikipedia page: "At the age of 24, Cody wrote her memoir Candy Girl: A Year in The Life of an Unlikely Stripper. The memoir began after Mason Novick, a manager, showed interest in Cody's acerbic wit and the popularity [Ms. Cody's blog] Pussy Ranch had received. Novick, who would soon become Cody's manager, secured a publisher and the memoir became a critical success."
posted by ND¢ at 12:13 PM on February 25, 2008

Response by poster: Some great answers. keep'm comin'.
posted by JaySunSee at 12:19 PM on February 25, 2008

You might find this earlier thread relevant, although I'm not sure any of those writers who hadn't been published before they started blogging are amazingly famous or anything.
posted by phoenixy at 12:21 PM on February 25, 2008

She isn't super-famous, but Pamela Ribon adapted her blog into a novel about five years ago. She's currently a writer for Samantha Who? on ABC.
posted by Smallpox at 12:48 PM on February 25, 2008

Mil Millington did the well liked Things My Girlfriend and I have Argued About site for quite a while before he adapted it to a fictional book of the same name.

He then went on to write A Certain Chemestry. To the best of my knowledge, both books were fairly well received.
posted by quin at 12:51 PM on February 25, 2008

dagnabbit, quit beat me to it by about 30 seconds!
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on February 25, 2008

er, quin.
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on February 25, 2008

And of course, the two guys that run Penny-Arcade have managed to develop a fairly strong celebrity status from their web page, though most of their fame still seems to directly relate to the internet, some of their projects like Child's Play has done a bunch to help people in the non-web world.
posted by quin at 12:54 PM on February 25, 2008

Bill Simmons, of ESPN fame. As an voracious Red Sox fan his small blog rose out of obscurity, eventually being picked up by ESPN, and now he's among the most read sports writers. Probably not the best sports writer, but his quirky style of pop culture and sports (and his unabashed loyalty to all sports that are New England) make him stand out. He has a great book that is a must read for any Red Sox fan called "Now I Can Die In Peace." Really, anyone interested in a real fan's perspective on the ups and downs of following a sports team would love the book. He's also a monthly contributer for ESPN the magazine.
posted by Detuned Radio at 1:32 PM on February 25, 2008

There are a bunch of food bloggers who got book deals from their sites.
Here are a few off the top of my head:
Adam from Amateur Gourmet
Clotilde from Chocolate and Zucchini
Molly from Orangette
posted by rmless at 1:37 PM on February 25, 2008

Perez Hilton?
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:56 PM on February 25, 2008

Durr, never mind, he's not a writer. But he is pretty famous.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:57 PM on February 25, 2008

Mark Z. Danielwski first released House of Leaves online. It's been a huge seller (and a fun book to read, I might add.)
posted by SansPoint at 1:57 PM on February 25, 2008

Petite Anglaise, Belle de Jour and Girl with a one-track mind are all British bloggers who've turned their blogs into reasonably successful books - Belle de Jour in particular had hers turned into a TV series starring Billie Piper. They are/were all anonymous (Petite and One-track were both 'outed' by the British press).
posted by featherboa at 2:45 PM on February 25, 2008

Yet another person who isn't really "a writer who got famous via the internet" so much as "a blogger who got a book deal", but Jessica Cutler a.k.a. "Washingtonienne".
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:22 PM on February 25, 2008

Elizabeth Spiers
Dave Eggers (arguably)
posted by dropkick queen at 4:13 PM on February 25, 2008

The gofugyourself girls have parlayed their blog into a semi-regular column in New York magazine. And today Joshua Micah Marshall was profiled in the NY Times because he won the George Polk Award for journalism.
posted by Sara Anne at 4:18 PM on February 25, 2008

The ladies of Go Fug Yourself have also just released a book.
posted by Smallpox at 4:57 PM on February 25, 2008

Dana Vachon (link for background/starters.)

(we were ONE blog degree of separation, back in ye olden blog days, hence I followed this one from early on...)
posted by NikitaNikita at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everybody!
posted by JaySunSee at 7:40 PM on February 25, 2008

Charlie Brooker was only writing for video game magazines, until he came up with TV go home. Now he has a TV show and three newspaper columns.
posted by roofus at 1:02 AM on February 26, 2008

Crazy Aunt Purl has just released a book, based on her blog.
posted by indienial at 2:05 AM on February 26, 2008

Ooh, and Shauna Reid has just published a book about her diet battles.
posted by indienial at 2:06 AM on February 26, 2008

Dooce has a book coming out, and the site is her full time job.
posted by chunking express at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2008

Not sure how you define "writer" but on the more journalistic side, college student Brian Stetler's blog "TVNewser" was bought up by Mediabistro and then won him a job covering TV for the NY Times.
posted by Jahaza at 8:50 AM on February 26, 2008

Tucker Max. 16 on NYT bestselling paperback nonfiction.
posted by herbaliser at 10:48 AM on February 26, 2008

Yay Julie Powell! Her blog was so much fun and I'm so glad she got the offer to write a book. Must reads.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:41 PM on February 26, 2008

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