A Blog-to-Book Success: Catching Up with WordPresser-Turned-Bestseller Jared Gulian


Last November, we chatted with New Zealand blogger Jared Gulian, who snagged a publishing contact for a book based on his WordPress.com blog, Moon Over Martinborough. His book of the same name, released last month, has climbed to #4 on New Zealand’s bestseller list for nonfiction. We caught up with Jared amid this exciting, eventful month and talked to him about his experience so far.

Moon Over Martinborough

Your book, Moon Over Martinborough, was released on June 7. What has the past month been like?

It’s been absolutely insane in the best possible way. It started out with a launch event in the Martinborough village, where I live. The turnout was amazing. Everyone was very excited about the book, since it features Martinborough and its people.

After the launch, it kept getting better. I’ve been surprised by the level of media interest across New Zealand, and I’ve had interviews with three major radio stations, book excerpts in six of New Zealand’s regional newspapers, great reviews in several magazines, and an interview spread in the Dominion Post. Then TVNZ’s Breakfast, a major morning news and talk show, came out to interview me and film our olive harvest.

You can find links to a lot of these interviews on my blog.

All this attention has helped push the book to #4 on the New Zealand bestseller list for nonfiction, which is a dream come true.

As a result, more people are discovering my blog. Really kind people have said the nicest things on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Since my photo is on the cover of the book, I’ve also had people walk up to me and congratulate me. Several random strangers have told me they tore through the book in a late-night read because they just couldn’t put it down.

Any upcoming book-related events you’d like to share with us?

Most of the big events have passed, including a bookstore signing in Feilding, New Zealand; a 45-minute talk to the Celiac Society (one of my more glamorous bookings); and two storytelling sessions at the first-ever Martinborough Olive Harvest Festival.

Jared’s upcoming events

  • July 11 — Unity Books in Wellington
  • July 13 — Moore Wilson’s in Wellington (book signing and olive oil tasting)

I’m working on a new event as part of my region’s upcoming creative festival, KOKOMAI. Another local blogger-turned-author, Johanna Knox, and I plan to do an “authors in conversation” event at the festival about our blog-to-book experiences.

Random House New Zealand also lists upcoming events on its website. It’s very strange to have an author profile on the website of a major publishing house!

Since your last WordPress.com interview, you’ve given your blog a facelift. Tell us about the changes.

Your interview with poet and author Kellie Elmore inspired me to up my game! I’d been using a retired theme, Contempt, which I’d outgrown. I wanted something cleaner and simpler. I also wanted to use a responsive theme so my blog could easily be viewed on any device.

I considered hiring a web designer, but in the end WordPress.com has so many great themes and customization is easy — I just did it all myself. I’m now using a customized Twenty Twelve theme:

Moon Over Martinborough Site

I learned about the About.me widget from the Elmore interview, and I really like it. I used the Milestone Widget for the countdown to my book launch, too. I’m also using custom menus and a custom background color, and Random House New Zealand assisted me with a new header that ties in with the book.

I’ve also added an Image Widget in the sidebar to promote the book, as well as a new page (on how to buy the book). The print version is available in New Zealand bookstores (or through New Zealand websites if you’re overseas). The ebook is available internationally.

I hope to get the attention of a US publisher, so if that happens it’ll be in US bookstores. Any interested publishers out there? :)

We’re thrilled about your blog-to-book success — what’s one tip you can give to aspiring authors on WordPress.com?

BookI have two important words: mulish determination.

In my experience, the most important thing is just to keep on doing it, and to keep on trying to learn how to do it better. Keep on blogging, writing, taking notes, talking to friends and strangers who write, and pushing yourself to learn more and improve your craft.

I found Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers really helpful. He talks a lot about the “10,000-Hour Rule,” which claims that the key to success in any field is practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. That’s a lot of time before success hits!

So, practice that mulish determination and just keep on writing.

Thanks for chatting with us, Jared, about your book release and sharing your blog-to-book experience with us. Congratulations again, and we’ll follow along on your blog for more news and stories about the book and future projects.

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