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Jessica Hagy

If you haven’t seen them yet (and chances are you have), Jessica Hagy’s index cards are little marvels of wit and wisdom. They’ve also netted her world-wide acclaim and a book deal with Penguin. Her book, Indexed, comes out next year. While she’s not the first blogger with a book deal, I love her cards so much I asked her to chat with me about how she started blogging—as well as how her blog got her a book deal and more. But first, here’s one of my all-time favorite Jessica Hagy index cards:

Hagy Hell

JT: So, you’re sitting around at work one day saying, “Yeah, I am like Roz Chast—but only her if maybe she worked as a McKinsey consultant, and, yes, I am going to start a blog posting my index cards, dammit!” Or did it start out a little differently?

JH: I read somewhere that ‘every writer needs a blog’ but I didn’t want to do one of those “Here’s what I had for breakfast. Here’s what I did at school” blogs. I’d had a few really lame advertising jobs, and was going back to school, and I felt like I had to do something—anything—that was remotely creative so my head wouldn’t explode. I never thought anyone would find the thing, actually. It was just my little, goofy project.

JT: Your cards are a run-away hit on the blogosphere, including their regular feature in the Freakonomics blog: did it take a while to build up? What other opportunities have grown out of your blog? Are you a full-time 3x5-er now?

JH: About a week after I posted the first batch last August, somebody linked the blog to Metafilter. Whoever you are, thank you! That’s how my agent (it’s still strange to me that I have an honest-to-god agent) found me, and from there, it just sort of took off.

I’m working on the full-timing. The Indexed book comes out on Feb 28th (one day before leap day). Indexed was a Webby honoree and is on a bunch of “best blogs’ lists. Right now, the cards are on Freakonomics and run in Plenty Magazine. They ran in GOOD magazine, on the BBC Magazine Online, and JibJab commissioned a bunch of them. Current TV is going to film me drawing about a dozen of them and turn that into TV interstitials.

I’ve had a few offers to sell the whole thing, but none seemed to be great fits. Syndication is the next thing we’re going after.

I’m super, super, super lucky.

JT: It’s blog-2-book madness these days—how did your book come about?

JH: My incredibly cool editor at Pengiun emailed me about turning the blog into a book in February. I forwarded his email to my agent. They talked to each other. I talked to them. And off we went. I love the Internet.

JT: I can’t wait for your book—but in the meantime, I hope whoever you get as a publicist uses this video of your work. How did that come about?

JH: That was an email from Clemens Kogler, an Austrian filmmaker, just saying he liked the stuff and could he use it in a film. That sounded fun to me, and the result was Le Grand Content. It was featured on the front page of YouTube on Superbowl Sunday, and having worked in advertising for years and never gotten a decent TV spot produced, that felt like a creative victory of sorts, to have that show up there when it did.

JT: Finally, care to leave us with a card about blogs?


Hagy Kottke

OK, comments are turned on: be interesting or nice or both.

Reader comments

Dan BrunoOct 30, 2007 at 12:02PM

Awesome! I love Indexed (and initially found it through that Metafilter post, incidentally). Good luck with the book, Jessica!

ZkemOct 30, 2007 at 12:10PM

Love the cards! I must admit they remind me of the comedy of Demetry Martin though, who does something very similar on stage. I have no idea who came first, and perhaps it just indicates something thats in the air these days. I'd be curious if Jessica is familiar with his work and if so what she thinks of it. :)

Mau SandovalOct 30, 2007 at 12:57PM

Jessica Hagy Rocks!!!

I can't wait for her book.

MattOct 30, 2007 at 1:02PM

My fiancee and I loved Indexed so much we asked Jessica to make us some Save the Date cards for our upcoming wedding. And they were great, everyone loved them. Thanks Jessica! We'll send you one of the final cards in the mail. Maybe it's time to expand the business to greeting cards? I bet Hallmark would kill to get their hands on that stuff.

KarahOct 30, 2007 at 1:03PM

I love the little jolts of surprise and recognition I get with every card.

MarkOct 30, 2007 at 2:11PM

Brilliant. I laughed aloud. Except about DF = welfare. That seemed harsh. I'd be interested in hearing an elaboration on that definition.

PenarOct 30, 2007 at 2:14PM

Great use of the Internet, Jessica. Absolutely great. Small, beautiful, thoughtful things that are just a delight to look at in the morning RSS feed roundup. Thanks!

Jessica HagyOct 30, 2007 at 3:17PM


I'm popping into say thanks to everybody and answer the questions. Thanks to Joel for this, I appreciate it in vast quantities.


Someobdy linked a Demetri Martin thing to me a few months ago. I think powerpoint is in the groundwater, and that I should call him up or something. He'd either hang up in disgust or we'd become nerdy friends.

DF: Slackers (sloth) dream about (envy) welfare, especially when their jobs aren't fun. So 'unemployment' would work there too.

And thank you, everybody, for your kind words. As somebody who is pretty much HTML illiterate, the Internet has been very good to me.

TravisOct 30, 2007 at 6:06PM

Cool to see you succeeding so swiftly. I only found Indexed recently, through Freakonomics, and I've been enjoying it ever since. Neat work!

Stephen CaverOct 31, 2007 at 2:28AM

First time I heard of Jessica's work was on Penn Jillette's (now defunct) radio show, where the above "Seven Deadly Sins" index card was discussed at lenght. Not only is her work great, but seemed incredibly sweet, as well.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.