As you may have heard, I've been working feverishly on my Comic Book Fanthropology book for the past couple months. I've actually had a few people express some interest in my process for the whole thing, so I thought I'd try documenting some of that before it becomes too stale in my memory. First a little background...
The idea for this book actually came to me back around 2003/2004. I had read enough about comic fandom at that point to realize that no one had really addressed the topic in a way that I would've liked to have seen it addressed. Of course, at the time, I didn't have nearly the amount of knowledge that I thought I should have to write such a book, so I simply continued doing research on fandom in general.
Jump forward a few years. I was getting increasingly tired of maintaining my Fantastic Four website; I'd essentially said everything I wanted to say (and then some!) about the comic and the site itself wasn't really a good forum for much beyond that topic. So I started this blog.
I had a couple distinct things I wanted to accomplish with this blog when I started it. First, I wanted to use it as means to document whatever notes and ideas I might have about fandom for future use. I wasn't sure when, of even if, I was going to write Comic Book Fanthropology at that point, but I thought it would be a good idea to make sure whatever thoughts I might have didn't get lost. Second, I wanted to practice writing. I don't do a whole lot of it in my day job, and I wanted to spend time making sure that I'm exercising that muscle. Not only the craft of writing itself (sentence structure, grammar, etc.) but also just the notion of coming up with some kind of narrative more-or-less on demand. I set myself the goal of posting every day precisely to force myself to come up with SOMETHING worthwhile ad infinitum. Admittedly, not all my posts are that good, and I'm not here each and every day without fail, but I think I've managed a decent track record over the past several years.
That second point led to something of unintended, but no less important, side-effect. Namely, that I wound up developing something of a brand identity. The name "Sean Kleefeld" has some resonance in comicdom, in part, because of this blog. I make no claims on my self-importance, by any means, and I really have NO clue how much name cache I actually have. I also have no idea how many copies, if any, my book will sell. But I do know that if I hadn't been working on this blog for the past several years, I would absolutely sell far fewer copies than however many I wind up selling.
So why now? Why write a book in 2009 that I might have written in 2008 or could write in 2010?
Up until about two months ago, there were two reasons I kept telling myself I wasn't writing it: I didn't think I was expert enough on the subject, and I couldn't find a "hook" to hang the entire book on. But then I read a blog post (which I can't find offhand) from marketing guru Seth Godin where he said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "If you're waiting until you have 'enough' information to go forward, when do you think you'll have 'enough'? Is that next week, or next month, or next year?" His point was that that really wasn't a valid excuse to postpone work; if you continue along that line of thinking, you'll never get anything done. And when it was put into that perspective, I realized that I probably knew more about the subject than most people already and whatever I write up will likely provide new insights for a lot of people.
As for that elusive "hook", I figured I'd work something out as I was structuring the book and I just needed to plow ahead with at least planning it. After I saw how I had things laid out, then maybe I could see how I could work in a more organic flow. Get the structure in place first, then worry about the exterior later.
Up next: actually getting started.