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You are in: Berkshire > People > Your stories > Could your blog earn you £70,000?

Could your blog earn you £70,000?

You may have read about Judith O'Reilly, who's Wife In The North blog landed her a £70,000 book deal. Could your online chronicles of life perhaps earn you the same? We chat to Reading's Alistair Coleman, who writes one of the top blogs in the UK.

Alistair Coleman

Alistair Coleman with his blog site Scary Duck

Blogging: it's a great way of reading up on 21st century everyday life. Millions of us have ditched the diary in favour of writing our deepest darkest thoughts online for everyone to see. Some write anecdotes, some have a political rant, some dwell at length on mathematical theories, but most provide an insightful account of what it's like to be that person, or what that person has on their mind.

It's a social phenomenon that has led to several bloggers securing lucrative book deals. Most recently in the press Judith O' Reilly landed a £70,000 publishing deal for her Wife In The North blog.

Could your life in (electronic) letters potentially earn you a life-changing amount of cash?

What's a blog?

Reading's Alistair Coleman seems to think so. And he's certainly in a good position to say. His blog, called Scaryduck, attracts more than a 1,000 readers a day to log on and read about his comedic observations on life around Reading, Henley and Twyford. He won The Guardian's Blog of the Year Award in 2002 and has recently published his blogs in a book, called Tales Of Mirth And Woe.

"I didn't start off with the intention of doing weekly stories," says the former Piggott School pupil, now married with two children, "I was just writing about stuff I liked.

"I entered the Guardian's best blog award because any publicity is good publicity, and I accidentally won it!"



The modest writer said "things went a bit mad" after that. "I just entered my own blog and got a phone call one day. One judge said I was better than Jeffrey Archer, they liked the humour. All of a sudden I'm getting about a 1000 people a day now."

And Alistair isn't alone. Far from it.

"A young lady called Petite Anglaise who worked for a British company in Paris got sacked because of her blog, and all of a sudden she's got a £100,000 book deal," exclaims Alistair, who started off writing for football fanzines and set up his own website all about Arsenal.

"I just entered my own blog and got a phone call one day. One judge said I was better than Jeffrey Archer..."

Alistair Coleman won the 2002 Guardian Blog of the Year Award

And then there's the hugely popular Random Acts Of Reality, written by Tom Reynolds.

"He started from absolutely nowhere, he's just an ambulance driver and he's writing daily about the people he meets, the calls he goes out on. But it's because he's such a
good writer that he's selling books by the cartload now."

Other successful blogs include one called Spoilt Victorian Child, an online hub for a music-lover who simply posted his favourite song clips on there. All of a sudden he's head of a record company.

And then there's a blog revealing the private thoughts of a prostitute, Belle Du Jour, which is going to be made into a film or TV series.

Oh yes, blogs are indeed rich and varied in subject matter.

"One of my favourite blogs is a chap who's a research student," says Alistair, "he does particle physics. It's the most incomprehensible subject I know but he writes about it so well, even though he's talking about things operating in nine dimensions and universes colliding."

Alistair Coleman

His blog has become a book: Tales Of Mirth And Woe

Even our local newspapers have their own blogs - The Reading Chronicle to name one. Then there's local celebrity blogs such as Lenny Henry's, former Reading East MP Jane Griffiths still writes vigorously on the subject of Reading borough council and is a hugely popular blog dedicated to Reading news and football - see below for weblinks.

So what makes a blog stand out from all the millions out there?

"Entirely the content," says Alistair firmly, "you really have to think about what you're writing.

"I don't want to be snobbish but some blogs are just rubbish, some write about the everyday minute details of their life and it might be good as a way of keeping in touch with friends and relatives and that's fine, but I prefer to read something that engages me."

And it's Alistair's engagingly side-splitting stories that draws in his loyal readership time and time again.

"Some of the things I write about are these funny stories that weren't very funny at the time," he says. "The parallel I draw is Spike Milligan's War Memoirs, which was probably a very unpleasant period in his life but as he says in interviews he just turned it up to 11, everything's true but he just exaggerated everything.

"That's the same thing I do. I try to find the humour in things."


Get started with your own blog here!

last updated: 20/05/2008 at 14:14
created: 28/02/2007

Have Your Say

Jessie Salas
Al, you sure do get around. Congratulations!!! I'm curious to know why you haven't published your many adventures around the world. One in particular is your trip to Chicago, Illinois (USA)back in 1998. Why don't you blog about your adulterous affair with the American woman in Chicago? How you left your wife and children alone in Reading while you were in Chicago with the mistress? I bet that would win you a winning award. Take care and good luck!

Matt Brady
Thanks also for the mention :) A great feature.

Rik Hughes
In Alistair's own words, I'm his "Sledgehammer wielding, number-one duck fan." He even gave me reason to start my own blog. A true inspiration amongst bloggers, his Friday stories never fail to stir memories amongst his readers.

Jane Griffiths
Thanks for the mention, but I don't really blog about Reading Borough Council. I do about Reading Labour Party though, and about certain figures in Reading, but that's far from all I say - I comment a lot on politics and stuff that interests me.

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