When Yahoo bought Tumblr this summer, it further signaled a move into digital content. But it may want to consider print as well: At least 70 books have been spun off of Tumblrs, according to founder David Karp, and more surely will follow. Four Tumblr turned book insiders explain what makes a winner:
"There are a lot of awesome Tumblrs, but they post 50 jokes and that's the life of it. You have to maintain that audience online so that in a year or two, when the book is published, they're still there watching."
—Kate McKean, Morhaim Literary Agency, Agent for Sh*t Rough Drafts (Spring, 2014)
"I'd been reading STFU Parents for years. The posts were hilarious or frightening, but the author's commentary was the draw. She's showcasing an issue that's become something everyone's talking about."
—Kent Wolf, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin, agent for STFU Parents (Spring, 2013)
"I still go for the same thing I go for anywhere, which is voice and not just a collection of things that happen to be shareable. If you look at which deals did best, I imagine that voice would be the denominator."
—Jason Ashlock,Movable type, agent for Stuff Hipsters Hate (Fall, 2010)
"The Tumblr itself doesn't have a huge following, but it's best when the author does. When the time comes to get a publicity hit, reaching an audience of 748,000 people in one second makes a huge difference."
—Samantha Weiner, Abrams Books, editor of Bun B's Rap Coloring and Activity Book (Fall, 2013)
[Illustration by Marek Haiduk]
A version of this article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.