But… you’re just a blogger.

Foreword Literary, Inc has three bloggers turned agent. Book Blogger is how we choose to identify on social media, and therefore that is how people perceive us.

On the day we launched Foreword publicly Ann Kingman asked who was going to do the first story on book blogger agents and is that a viable way for bloggers to get into the industry. My immediate response was hell yes! For others it is a black mark on a record, an immediate outcry of assuming began.

They’d like to see a study in five years, if no one’s making any money bloggers as agents must suck, how do you know they are smart enough to do the job…

You don’t. But you also don’t know that the MFA student that just got a job as a new agent is legit either.

Newsflash, no new agent makes money. Not a sustainable income amount of money. You treat it like a startup, in a few years you earn out.

The three bloggers at Foreword have put an amazing amount of time into learning the business. I myself interned for four years. The first rule of lit agency interning (you sign an NDA) is not to talk about interning. I didn’t take the first agent job offered to me. I wanted to understand way more than I did.

Because being an advocate for an author is a big fucking deal. They need you for way more than to just sell your book. Almost anyone with discriminating taste can make a sale somewhere.

But can they negotiate, read contract language, have a mentor they can go to for help? Do they understand option clause and advance money vs. royalties and escalators? Can they love their author and that book like their own child?

Being a blogger is not the end all of my life. I’m a mom, a wife, a writer, and I’ve help various positions in professional fields. I have a resume, I have skills, and none of those skills have anything to do with me being an upstart blogger.

Blogging prepared me for so much in this industry and this job:
-Knowing imprints and houses.
-Knowing editors of imprints and houses.
-A strong understanding of the market in the fields I would go on to represent.
-A connection to bloggers who will help me promote my books if I love them.
-Complete understanding of a marketing plan.

I don’t think that blogging alone can prepare you for being an agent. I don’t think every blogger is a right fit. But I’m not going to judge someone based on their blog when I have no idea what they do outside of their blog and their in professional life. And I am a firm believer that a certain kind of savvy blogger gets an informal education in publishing whether they mean to or not.

I can’t answer whether I’m a good agent. That’s up to my clients and their works. What I know is that I try my damnedest to be, and that I understand the importance of what I am doing and spend 12 hours a day or more doing it.

When I took my position at Larsen Pomada they sat me down and explained I probably wouldn’t sell a book my first year, and that is totally acceptable and ok.

My one year anniversary is coming up. I made 9 deals for a total of 21 books. I have books coming out in April, June, July, and November of this year.

I’m damn proud of my record and I’m proud that blogging gave me an edge with the knowledge it brought. So I’m hoping we can lay to rest the judging of people based solely on their online presence. And that’s something I’ll have to work on personally as well. It makes you a giant ass.

Anyway, I’ve always been on team book blogger world domination.

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13 Responses so far

  1. Gravatar

    I think what also helps is that you guys were/are involved bloggers. You didn’t just put up posts that consisted of 90% plot summary, 10% book-is-super-awesome-squee reviews and do a bunch of memes and call it even. There were author interviews, serious discussions of blogging/industry issues, various blog projects, etc. It showed that there was a depth of knowledge and ability to assimilate new information.

    That’s where a good blogger can bring the goods to being a lit agent :)

  2. Gravatar

    First, Congrats! I think for your first year as an agent, you hit it out of the park. I agree that blogging is not the only thing in some book bloggers lives and being a literary agent is not for everyone. But if they have the skills, the drive, the ambition, go for it. Rock it.

    You did just that! I think your example should give haters pause!

  3. Gravatar

    Being a blogger helped me get my last job, which was in a bookstore. Actually, it was my obsession with all things bookish. That is the reason I started my blog in 2007 and through blogging I grew to understand books, publishers, authors, publicity, etc. much better than I could have ever imagined. It led me to social networking too, which also was a skill required for that job.

    Giving them my blog address and allowing them to see (not access, because I disagree wholeheartedly with that concept) my Facebook and Twitter pages displayed my knowledge, how I conduct myself, how I present myself and other traits that showed my potential employer that I walked the walk.

    Yeah, some things on Twitter and FB are personal, but I never have, and never will put anything into the world of the Internets unless I accept the fact that it will live out there pretty much forever – for all to see. I understand that if I want something to be private – keep it to myself.

    I see my blog and my other social outlets as a type of “branding” and it helped me get that job. Nowadays, with certain businesses, you need an “interactive” resume as much as a 2D one, which is shallow at best – especially when applying for a job that requires so much more than what you can put into several paragraphs or bullet points.

    I’m not much of a blogger, not like Pam and others, but I AM a blogger and proud of it. Thank you Pam for speaking on this subject and helping others see us beyond the perception.

    I heart you to infinity and beyond!

  4. Gravatar

    Great post, Pam. You’ve done an amazing job.

  5. Gravatar

    One of the first things I check when sniffing around an agency is whether they have a real-time blog presence where you can get a sense of what’s happening out in the publishing world. So many agencies have “blogs” which are little more than infomercials for their latest book deals (often their own) or are what I call “ghost town blogs” that are only updated once or twice a year. I may not end up querying everybody who’s got a happening real-time blog, but as a writer, I definitely fly by to catch the buzz. Although I have to admit I tend to downrate agents who are social media junkies, as experience has shown me (and a lot of others) that that is a habit which mostly just kills a lot of time and has no real world payoff. Keep on blogging, by all means…

  6. Gravatar

    I wouldn’t be able to take on an author that thought social media has no real world payoff. That’s where fans reach you and discover you. Social media is the easiest tool for discoverability out there. It is word of mouth in the digital age.

  7. Gravatar

    Hells yeah we’re taking over the world. :) Congrats on the new business!

  8. Gravatar

    LOL the fact that you had such a huge blogging presence was a major factor in the decision to go with you in the first place.

  9. Gravatar

    Passion for the written word manifests into many forms. One form is not exclusive from another. Congratulations for finding the right job, at the right time, with the right people!

  10. Gravatar

    Okay, then-duly noted, but you might want to check out Jane Dystel’s thoughts on the matter over on the DGLM blog… Apparently her agency bought wholeheartedly into the whole “brave new world of social media” idea awhile back, and now her clients and fellow agents are so strung out on facebook it’s starting to affect productivity, and not in a good way. She sounds quite worried about it, but then again, who is she?!? LOL right back atcha….

  11. Gravatar

    Well I’d say that is a very successful first year! I can see how blogging would be another facet of it. I have two blogs. One for history and one for writing fun. Both pretty different. Got to be diverse, right? Much luck to you gals on your new agency!

  12. Gravatar

    Just like with anything in life, I think that blogging gives you experience. How much or how little depends upon the individual blogger.

    Clearly your blogging experience opened doors, gave you insight into the industry and has shown you certain things that can work or don’t work from a marketing and social media perspective.

    Your experience as a blogger, as a writer, as an agent, and in life, along with your inherent ability to discover talent all work together to make you the agent you are today.

    It’s unfortunate that blogging in and of itself could be seen as a black mark. Though I suppose if someone who had no other experience and had no other related knowledge other than that of being a book blogger decided to just randomly open their own agency and it became a trend, then that would taint the pool.

    And congratulations again on Foreword!

  13. Gravatar

    This was a fascinating article. I never thought about book bloggers becoming agents but really, it’s a near-perfect fit. Your success should speak for itself. I’m sure some agents who went to school will have some sour grapes, but not everyone needs to go to school to learn something. With the plethora of information available out there today, anyone can learn anything. Not everyone has the discipline to learn a new career on their own, but it speaks to your passion for the industry that you did it. Congratulations!

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