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Nelson Literary Agency will be closed to queries
December 1, 2017 – January 1, 2018.
Queries received during this time will not be read. Please query us after January 2, when we will be relaxed, full of eggnog, and happy to read your query.
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Submissions are accepted via email only.
- Make sure NLA represents your genre. (See what our agents are looking for below.)
- You may query only one agent at the agency. Our first-round readers and agents share and discuss query letters, so a response from one NLA agent is a response from all NLA agents.
- Open a new email and address it to the appropriate agent. (See below.)
- In the subject line, write QUERY and the title of your project. This will help ensure that your query isn’t accidentally deleted or caught in our spam filter.
- In the body of your email, include a one-page query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript.
- No attachments please. Because of virus concerns, emails with attachments are deleted unread.
Kristin is seeking:
- Voice and character driven stories well told. How you tell that story doesn’t have to fit into a neat little category.
- Young adult & middle grade (all genres, #ownvoices, #WNDB, STEM girls are my jam & characters who use brains over brawn.)
- Big crossover novels w/ one foot squarely in genre (Wool, Station 11, Lexicon, Ready Player One)
- Literary commercial novels (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet, Where’d You Go Bernadette?, A Man Called Ove)
- Voice-driven upmarket women’s fiction
- Select passion projects in thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, single-title romance
Danielle is seeking:
- Middle grade and young adult (all genres)
- Select passion projects in adult mysteries, thrillers, and women’s fiction
- #MSWL: A strong, distinctive voice; complex female characters; quirky adventures; #ownvoices and diverse characters; complicated family dynamics; romantic plotlines that are an element of the narrative but don’t dominate it; seaside novels; social justice themes; girls with swords
Joanna is seeking:
- Character-driven and atmospheric mysteries and thrillers – think Tana Fench, Blake Crouch and Heather Gudenkauf
- Literary fiction – fish out of water experiences, immigrant stories, complex families – I cried my way through The Namesake and couldn’t put down The Round House)
- Upmarket women’s fiction featuring characters I can’t stop thinking about
- Literary and commercial young-adult fiction – I’ll Give You The Sun and Bone Gap and anything that reminds me of Veronica Mars
Quressa is seeking:
- Modern-day blue stockings, POC fangirls/fanboys, #blackgirlmagic, #carefreeblackgirls, #blackboyjoy, LGBTQ+, neuroatypical/neurodivergent, and disabled POCs as leads
- Young adult (contemporary, SF/F, historical)
- Adult SF/F with strong genre-bending/crossover appeal. (Think the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I’m also a fan of Anne Bishop and Naomi Novik.)
- Romance (all genres except romantic suspense), especially by marginalized writers
- Literary fiction that is thoughtful, evocative, page-turning (The Mothers, Behold the Dreamers, Tell The Wolves I’m Home, Station 11)
- Upmarket and commercial fiction
- Passion projects in narrative nonfiction with a strong literary voice and commercial appeal (Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, Black Man in a White Coat by Damon Tweedy, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi). Would love to see non-whitewashed cowboy stories; pop science by women, specifically women of color; and literary, voice-driven memoir with commercial appeal.
- #ownvoices and marginalized authors in all genres mentioned above. Inclusive narratives in all genres.
We do not represent:
- Nonfiction (except Quressa, who considers select passion projects in narrative nonfiction—see above—but does not represent abuse narratives or political works)
- Short-story collections
- Material for the Christian/Inspirational market
- Children’s picture books
- Early-reader chapter books
Queries: We read and respond to each and every query we receive. Expect a response to queries within three weeks, though please understand that, occasionally, it may take longer. If you have not received a response after three weeks, then something might have gone astray in cyber world. Is your email account still active? Are emails to you being spam-filtered? Our reply to you might have bounced or been deleted. You might want to resend your email query.
Full manuscripts: If we have requested your full manuscript and you have uploaded it to our submission database, a response can take up to two months. As with queries, we will email a response, so keep an eye on your spam folder.
Examples of Good Query Letters
Check out Kristin’s blog workshop on query letters. You’ll find it in the right side bar of Pub Rants. You’ll also find several query letters from NLA clients posted there, as well as some of Kristin’s submission pitch letters to editors for various NLA titles. Also check out #NLAquerytip on Twitter for additional useful information.
Several times a year, Kristin and Angie present webinars on how to nail the query pitch paragraph. Definitely worth the enrollment fee if you’re looking to master the art of the query pitch!