Can a Writer’s Blog Really Help You Get an Agent?

You know the stories.  Julie Powell blogged about tackling Julia Child’s recipes each day, and ended up with Julie & Julia in a book and in the theaters.  Stuff White People Like got a book deal three months after it was launched.  And then there’s the parody blog & book, Options: the Secret Life of Steve Jobs, by “fake Steve Jobs.”

But those deals were all turning the actual blog into a book.  Anything we hear about agents trolling blogs for promising writers seems like rumors and dreams.

Until it happens to you.

I got this message in my email a week and a half ago:

Hi Jennifer:
      I am a literary agent scouting on behalf of a major publisher for someone to write a book on a young adult topic. I found your blogs and wonder if you might have interest in hearing more.

What’s that?  Someone found MY blog and wants to talk about a book?  Yeah, right, and they’ve got some Louisiana swampland to sell me, too.  It has to be spam.  Or at least a practical joke.

Then I read the next paragraph:  I have spent lots of time in Ireland and would love to chat about that too.

Okay, so she’s actually read my blog.  I click on her link and she looks legit.  I Google her, find a reference to her reviewing manuscripts as part of a writing contest prize.  Preditors & Editors says it’s a reputable agency.

Oh my gosh, could this actually be true?

Six days later (or 4 or 8 or some other number – my head’s still spinning), agent Marilyn Allen of Allen O’Shea Literary Agency and I have e-mailed, talked, and clicked with each other and on this particular project.  I not only have an agent presenting me to a particular editor, but that editor wants me!  ME!  Agent contract and editor’s e-mail agreement are in hand, actual book contract is on its way, and I’m still bouncing off the ceiling.

How did she find me, you ask?  I don’t know.  I asked, but I don’t know if her vague answer was because she had forgotten where she had been browsing when she came across my blog, or because she didn’t want to give her secrets away.  But she had read my blog, and read my Jen’s Writing Desk blog, too, because that’s the bio she had for me.  And, in Sally Field’s words, she liked me, she really liked me!  (Note to self: stop sounding like a five-year-oldDeep breath.  Okay now.)

I can’t give out details for a while, but I can say that they were looking for a writer with children’s experience, a casual tone, and some humor.  Maybe my other credentials impressed them, maybe not.  And now I’m swamped with lots of research on a topic I love, and very tight deadlines!

So thank you, thank you, all my fellow WANA bloggers and the awesome Kristen Lamb, without whom my blog would be read only by my family, and not often at that!  Without your encouragement and the example of your fantastic blog voices, I’d still be . . . well, where I was two weeks ago!

Needless to say, my ROW80 goals are shifting a bit.  I’ve put in loads of hours on research for this project, which is now taking the place of working on my novel.  I’ve tweeted just a few, exercised once, and I’m posting a regular blog and my ROW80 check-in together right now.  I feel like I’m working hard (‘cuz I am!) and keeping a bit of balance in my life, but I’m cutting my time short with my mother so I can go home and work on this, and that has me a little off kilter.

Ah, well, can’t have everything.  And since she was the first to say I needed to go home and work harder . . . who am I to argue with my mother?  She’s more stubborn than I am!

What agent stories do you have to tell?  How did you get yours?  Do you have a splendiferous query letter? Or are you planning a restroom ambush at a writer’s conference?

If you’re an ROW80 writer, how are your goals coming?  (Click this Linky to read other ROW80 blogs.)


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35 Responses to Can a Writer’s Blog Really Help You Get an Agent?

  1. Congratulations, Jen! That’s an amazing story. The closest I have come to that was when the editor from Little Island Books came to our writing retreat last fall and it turns out she had read my blog, all three (or was it four?) entries! I nearly fell off my chair. I had asked a question in advance through the event organizer, and my blog and website info were included. She did say I should blog more. So I’ve added one more post since then. Tsk. Won’t impress anyone with that level of output, eh? 😉

  2. Wow, Jennifer, this was the first post I read today, so talk about finding some great inspiration. Congratulations to you on the agent and the contract. I’m looking forward to reading about your progress. Yay!

  3. Suzan Butler says:

    Wow. That’s awesome! Congratulations!! I’ve been doing ROW80 for a while, but this is the first time I’ve stumbled on your blog. What a great post to start me out on! LOL

    Suzan Butler recently posted..#ROW80: Trucking along, feeling good, having funMy Profile

  4. Jennifer, this is awesome news! Congratulations! You are an inspiration to me and I’m so thankful you share good news about having a blog, because I hear so often that folks don’t have good luck with their blogs. I’m looking forward to hearing more of this amazing story as it unfolds. Good luck!
    Jayrod Garrett recently posted..War Post: April 25th Mashup & GoalsMy Profile

  5. This is such great news! I can’t say congratulations enough times. We’ve all loved your Ireland posts, and so I’m not surprised that someone else came across your blog and enjoyed it too. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your project when you’re able to share details.
    Marcy Kennedy recently posted..Do You Worry You Won’t Succeed As A Writer?My Profile

  6. Eden Mabee says:

    I feel like I should be waving pompoms or something here, Jennifer. CONGRATS! Of course, as you’ve found out, your real work is just starting. You’ll do just great at it, but feel free to savor a few days of readjusting your goals for the ROW80. You’ll do better with clear focus ad direction.
    Eden Mabee recently posted..A “Most Beautiful Thing” and a Tuesday SnippetMy Profile

  7. How awesome is that? Congratulations! *happy dance* 🙂 Can’t wait to see how the project turns out.
    Melinda VanLone recently posted..Wine and Butterflies in Texas HillcountryMy Profile

  8. Wow! What awesome news! I love stories like this. Congratulations!!!
    Rhonda Hopkins recently posted..What is Al-Anon Like?My Profile

    bask for a bit and then hard to work. good luck with your new project. your novel will be waiting for you.

  10. Amber says:

    That is awesome. Congratulations!!!
    Amber recently posted..Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Eureka! (Again)My Profile

  11. Fabio Bueno says:

    Fantastic news, Jen! Well-deserved. I’m so happy for you!
    Fabio Bueno recently posted..At a loss for words?My Profile

  12. Jennifer Jensen says:

    Wow, what a wonderful set of comments to wake up to! I posted late last night, set up Twitter and FB on HootSuite to get the word out, didn’t get to bed until almost 3.

    Thank you for all the warm thoughts. I can’t wait to announce what the project is (and my family can’t wait to tell their friends!) but I’m supposed to hold off until mid June when I have to meet the 50% mark. Whole thing has to be done by July 15 – whew!

    I’ll try to tweet to each of you, but I have to go help re-do a bathroom floor now. And then work!

  13. Diane Capri says:

    Congratulations, Jen! This is sooooooooooo terrific! Good for you!!!
    Diane Capri recently posted..Diane Capri Reveals Indie Author Superstar CJ LyonsMy Profile

  14. CC MacKenzie says:

    Jennifer, this is amazing news.

    And well done you! You’ve been blogging about what you love and that’s key. And you’re easy to work with too – or she wouldn’t have sent you a contract! Woo Hoo!

    Thrilled for you.

  15. Well, dang! Congratulations! That’s just awesome. Kinda blows the mind. I don’t have to worry about it happening to me. =D

    I must say I LOVE your picture of the road. Is that around Connemara? I’ve got a piece of green gravel sitting on my desk ask I write this from my visit last April. *sigh* I so want to go back. And since one of my future books is set there, I’ll have to because even though I reviewed areas for the story, I’m sure I’ll have forgotten. Really. =D
    Donna K. Weaver recently posted..A to Z – VaingloriousMy Profile

  16. This is so awesome Jennifer! Congrats. 🙂 Looking forward to hearing more on your successes!
    Coleen Patrick recently posted..Finding Meaning in the MessMy Profile

  17. I’m so excited for you, Jennifer! I can’t wait to hear about your project and all the wonderful experiences you will have in the coming months!
    Jennifer L. Oliver recently posted..My Inner Betty likes Mason Jar SaladsMy Profile

  18. Karen McFarland says:

    Oh Jennifer, I am so happy for you! *I am jumping up and down with pom poms*

    After all that you’ve been through lately, what a wonderful thing to happen to you! See, we Irish girls have a way of springing back! I wish you all the best girl! You deserve it!

  19. Lesann says:

    Woohoo! Now I can say I knew you when. Excellent, you!

  20. Shay Fabbro says:

    WOOHOO!!! Congrats! 😀

  21. Ginger Calem says:

    Beyond Thrilled!!!!! So incredibly exciting. Oh my gosh. LOVE that this is happening to you. HUGS!!
    Ginger Calem recently posted..WritersButt Wednesday: Road Trip!!My Profile

  22. Debra Kristi says:

    This is totally awesome Jennifer! Dancing and celebrating for you! Woot! This is some of the best news I’ve heard all day. Can’t wait till you can share more details. 🙂
    Debra Kristi recently posted..A Bird named Enza and the InfluenzaMy Profile

  23. Now can I put the post back up on Facebook and reTweet? Please? 🙂

    Proud of ya, Sis!
    Elizabeth Linehan recently posted..Deaf Employment and the ADAMy Profile

  24. mg says:

    you don’t sound like a five year old, you sound like a fifteen year old. wow, in any case. look forward to a signed copy of something; that means old-school, paper-based media.

  25. Brilliant news. Congratulations! Your story is an inspiration.Have fun with the new project.
    Reetta Raitanen recently posted..Link Feast Vol. 5My Profile

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  28. What a fantastic story! It makes sense that agents would surf through the blogosphere for talented writers, but I had no idea that agents actually contact bloggers and offer representation. That’s amazing, and congrats on your ‘big break’!
    Chris Sutherland recently posted..Novel excerpt #2-1My Profile

  29. M says:

    Add my congratulations to the pile!

    What an inspiring tale. I can certainly see why your Row80 goals are shifting.

    While I have gotten a few article writing gigs from my blog, most of the time, the people who contact me reek of spam.

    Good for you!

    M recently posted..ROW80 – Messy as Hell, but Beautiful, tooMy Profile

  30. Jennifer Jensen says:

    @ Mick, Reetta, Chris, Tui: Thanks so much. It is exciting, but we’ve clarified things and she’ll be my agent only for non-fiction. It makes me a real working writer, but I’ll still need to do my own work for my fiction. Now I’ve just got to find time to visit all your blogs!

  31. Wow, that is so wonderful! This gives me hope:-) good luck with your writing, glad I found your blog! Anne
    Anne Onsøien recently posted..Capturing a dream…My Profile

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  33. Jared says:

    Becoming a literary agent requires you to have a broad base of experience. Most agents take a roundabout way to the position, working their way up in the publishing business, which enables them to cultivate contacts and knowledge along the way.
    Jared recently posted..Content Writer DevonMy Profile

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