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From blog to book: The story behind Nerdy Thirty

Thanks to Nerdy Thirty by Wendy Townley for sponsoring Silicon Prairie News this week. You can learn more about Nerdy Thirty at nerdythirty.com or follow the book on Twitter at @nerdythirty.

This sponsored post was written by Wendy Townley. You can contact Wendy on Twitter at @wtownley or by email at wendy@wendytownley.com.


Wendy Townley. Photo by Chris Machian.

I began blogging in 2003 as a way to have a little fun with my writing. The ability to put fingers to Macintosh and share my thoughts to the world with a few clicks of the keyboard thrilled me to no end. An idea or experience would surface in my head. Within a few brief hours, my prose was published to a global audience for free – no publishing company required.

I wrote about all sorts of topics: failed attempts in the kitchen, unique – OK, just plain weird – experiences as a twenty-something living, working and playing in Omaha. My blog wasn’t wildly successful, but I didn’t care. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process and was an all-out tech nerd. The marriage of words and the Web was a match made in literary heaven.

As a writer I always dreamt of writing a book, but my private attempts at fiction were highly laughable and excruciatingly embarrassing. Reading through my false starts of short stories and novellas made me cringe, so I shelved (pardon the pun) my literary dreams and kept blogging on a fairly regular basis.

Then Big Omaha 2009 happened. I arrived at the un-conference curious about its content and excited at the possibilities, knowing, at the very least, the experience would yield a blog posting and a few new friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Cindy Grady of Omaha-based WriteLife tracked me down at the inaugural Big Omaha event, saying she had stumbled upon my blog and thought my humorous essays could be compiled into a book.

I smiled politely, graciously thanked Cindy for the compliment and didn’t give her suggestion another thought. It was the experience of countless authors to prepare a manuscript, send it to major publishing houses around the country and await the crushing wave of rejection letters. Why would my entrance to the book world be any different?

Then I ran into Cindy a second, third and even fourth time, usually during weekends last summer at my favorite Benson watering holes. Knowing our continual meetings were more than mere coincidence, I emailed Cindy and suggested we grabbed coffee at Caffeine Dreams to discuss her idea in greater detail.

I collected and heavily edited past essays I had posted to my blog, and wrote new essays, all under the auspices of nerdy/awkward/unusual experiences I’ve had as a child and teenager, leading up to turning 30 nearly two years ago.

Now, a year later, I’m celebrating the publication of my first book: Nerdy Thirty (left). If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve noticed my not-so-subtle approach at marketing and promoting the book. Without social media, I highly doubt Nerdy Thirty would have occurred so organically and, as a result, provide such a highly satisfying experience.

Without my blog Cindy wouldn’t have found me. And without Twitter, I wouldn’t have met Eric Downs, my graphic design hero who’s wholly responsible for the clever and creative cover design of Nerdy Thirty. I found Eric on Twitter and met him for coffee. I sent him my manuscript and provided zero design ideas. Eric must possess superpowers, because his cover design is exactly what I hoped for.

WriteLife has been an absolute dream to work with and, quit simply, made my literary dreams come true. I encourage anyone considering dipping their toe in the book world to contact Cindy at cindy.grady@writelife.com.

Join the Nerdy Thirty celebrations on Saturday, May 22 at Myth in the Old Market and on Saturday, June 5 at the Omaha Press Club. Visit nerdythirty.com/nerdy-news to learn more.