Popular columnist has book published

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Farm Forum

Jerry Nelson of rural Volga made a major life change in 2002.

He’d spent all his life on the family dairy farm, which was homesteaded by his great grandfather in 1887, before South Dakota was South Dakota.

“I had 60 or 80 cows,” he said. “Enough for one, but not enough for a hired hand.”

Even though he had been a farm guy his entire life, he got the urge to “try something different.” So at age 44 he took a job with the Dairy Star newspaper of Sauk Center, Minn., selling advertisement and doing a little writing on the dairy industry.

The writing part happened because Nelson had been penning a weekly humor column in his hometown Volga Tribune. The column was eventually picked up by the Watertown Public Opinion and is now featured in about a dozen newspapers across the Upper Midwest.

And now, those columns have caught the eye of a New York publishing company and have been made into a book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” which is what he calls his weekly newspaper column.

Now the former dairy farmer has an editor, a publicist and legions of fans who love his writing.

And he’s on the verge of having a lot more fans.

So, how does he feel about his mid-life career change now?

“So far, so good,” he says.

His book hit the stores on May 3, and is available everywhere books are sold, including major booksellers such as Barnes and Noble, and on online sites such as Amazon.com.

“It’s like a fairy tale,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s fans have for years been telling him he should publish a book of his columns, but people in the industry and editors at Workman Publishing told Nelson that “nobody publishes collections anymore.”

But after he submitted some of his columns, those people changed their minds and decided to make Nelson a published author, sifting through 20 years of Dear County Agent Guy, editing the best ones and putting them in the book.

He received an advance and will be going on book tours to publicize his work.

What’s next for Nelson?

“I’m hoping for a movie deal,” he says with tongue planted firmly in cheek. “I have already decided that Brad Pitt will play me. And my wife, Julie, wants Melissa McCarthy to portray here.

Don’t be surprised if it happens.