How Christian Lander Stumbled on What (White) People Like

Stuff White People Like

These days, the quickest way to get a book published may be starting a blog (not that the Opening Lines editors ever think about that!)

In the last five years, dozens of bloggers have been offered book deals for writing about everything from hipsters to disgustingly decadent foods. While these books may not always fly off the shelves, the writers themselves usually get the benefit of a nice advance from the publishing company and the pride and recognition that comes from saying you have published a book.

So how do you go about making a website popular and turning it into a book? I recently interviewed five popular bloggers-turned-authors in an article for MainStreet.com in order to find out.

One of the people I spoke with was Christian Lander, the founder of the hugely successful blog Stuff White People Like, a site that pokes fun at white people by highlighting their interest in everything from coffee to Asian girls. While it may sound silly, the site has been visited more than 70 million times and the book went on to be a bestseller.

Here is an excerpt from my interview with Lander about the secret behind his blog’s success:

MainStreet: How did Stuff White People Like get started?

Lander: I was having an instant message conversation with my Filipino friend and he said he didn’t trust any white person who didn’t watch The Wire. And then we started joking about what white people did instead of watching The Wire. It was really funny, and I decided to turn it into a blog.  In no way did I ever think it would get popular. I make the analogy that when you buy a lottery ticket, as a normal human being you usually say you know you won’t win, but it would be nice. I didn’t even think about that.

MS: Did you do much creative writing before the blog?

Lander: I’ve been writing steadily since I was 14. I’m a failed journalist, a failed grad student and a former copywriter. My entire life has been writing. I thought I’d be a comedy writer or a sports writer.

I also had a few blogs before this and nothing happened. They were really stupid blogs. For one of them, I started to write about my EA Sports games, not in a dry way, but by making up back stories of my players and creating weird little dramas and narratives. I thought it was funny and so did my friends.

MS: How did the book deal come about for Stuff White People Like? And how long did it take to happen?

Lander: It was lightning fast. About two and a half months after I started the blog, I got a book deal, and within six months the book was published. Agents reached out to me, starting first with some literary agents in New York City and then the major talent agencies in Los Angeles. The dream I’ve had since I was a little kid was to be a comedy writer, and I wanted to sign with a full service agency that would help me do books, television and films, so I ended up going with William Morris Agency.

MS: So do you now consider yourself to be more of a blogger or an author?

Lander: It depends on who I’m talking to. Author sounds more baller, but I’m happy with either title. I do feel closer to blogger right now just because I feel more connected to that world and the people in it than the world of authors.

To read the rest of the interviews with the bloggers, check out the full article on MainStreet.com

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