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April 2019
A Message from Kristin Nelson

The Market Update from Bologna

Kristin Nelson

For me, the month of March into April was fully consumed by all things Bologna Children’s Book Fair. As the only agent from NLA attending the fair, I read all our 2019 and early-2020 releases so that I was prepared to pitch them to foreign publishers. It was a month of great reading!

Young-adult titles, even those that were hugely successful in the States, have been hit or miss abroad. Given how trends shift, it was not a big surprise to learn that middle-grade was in high demand at the fair. Every publisher was on the hunt for exciting middle-grade projects to acquire—as were the Hollywood scouts, many of whom attend the fair to see what’s coming down the pike. They always want “four quadrant” properties—titles that target the four main age groups of movie-going audiences. I was pretty darn excited that NLA had six terrific middle-grade titles to spotlight, all of which got lots of requests from foreign publishers. 

Here’s some more gossip from the show floor regarding what publishers are looking for:

  • MG standalone rather than series
  • Magical-girl or girl-adventure stories
  • MG page-turning adventures
  • MG fantasy (though steampunk didn’t have a lot of takers in MG as well as in the YA space)
  • MG mysteries/detective stories
  • YA rom com (romantic comedies)
  • YA contemporary stories (especially those that can cross over to the adult audience)
  • YA issue books (though publishers are being choosy with these)
  • YA thriller (again, publishers being pretty selective here)
  • YA fantasy was a tough sell, but some houses still looking for it. When I pitched the cool social-media component in Scott Reintgen’s ASHLORDS, a lot of editors perked up and requested it. Such an unusual element to include in a fantasy novel!
  • YA SF was tough, but some publishers are looking

Satisfyingly, I also had interest from foreign publishers in two of our young-adult historical novels, one of which had been sold into the adult market in the UK. That gave our Asia co-partners new ideas on how to position it in their territories. The other received a strong pre-empt from Australia during the fair, which always creates extra excitement. UK & ANZ sales can often drive other foreign-publisher interest (which is why we work so hard to place in those territories initially, if possible).

And despite what foreign publishers say they are looking for, a “big” book trumps all. If something comes out of the gate strong on publication, then a lot of foreign interest can come in after the US publication.

 

Recent News
Think Like an Agent

Things To Remember About the World of Agenting

By Quressa Robinson

1. Agents get rejected, too. We understand the pain. We often offer on projects that we are deeply passionate about, feel we’ve made a strong connection with the author, and end up being passed over for another agent. It is heartbreaking for us. There is day drinking! Like exes who just can’t let go, we follow these authors’ careers, hoping one day they might come back to us. We grieve. But we dust ourselves off and try again. This is one of the most difficult but necessary parts of working in this industry: the ability to keep moving forward in the face of often relentless rejection.

2. Day-to-day and week-to-wee, not linear. I typically set goals for what I want to get done in a day or week, like catching up on my queries or reading a few submissions. Those goals are often derailed. Maybe an author just received an offer of representation from another agent. Now that author’s manuscript has to be read within a week or two so I can determine if I, too, want to offer rep; I have to prepare to chat with them to see if we are a good fit, and then, if we are, I have to sell myself to them. Now my week has gone to a potential new client and their manuscript. Or maybe a client who is out on submission might get an offer from an editor. Now, I’m spending my time reaching out to all the others editors who are considering the manuscript to let them know there’s an offer on the table. If I can’t reach them by phone, I email them. I then have to prepare a deal memo so I have a solid idea of how the negotiation is going to proceed based on the publisher’s offer and what would be ideal for my client.

3. Our Clients Come First. This is good. It is our intention to build and maintain our client lists that primarily makes an agent great—without clients we have nothing to sell, and we make no money! So when our clients send in their manuscripts for edits or when they have a crisis, they become our focus. This means reading and full manuscripts that we’ve requested gets put on the back burner.

4. If We Live In NYC, then part of our time is spent networking. We have coffee, lunch, and drink dates with editors so we can learn what they are looking for and how their imprints work, and so we can make new contacts. We go to mixers or maybe even stop by a publisher’s office to meet all the editors at a specific imprint.

5. Agenting isn’t a 9-to-5 Job. I try to have as much work/life balance as I can, but sometimes a 40-hour week isn’t enough. This can mean working seven days a week and pulling in 60-, 70-, or even 80-hour weeks. All unpaid. It is often necessary, but it’s exhausting. It does mean that as much as we want to tackle our overflowing inbox, we often need random mental health days or time to just read for fun, or take a walk, or lie in the park, or see a movie. The point is, we aren’t ignoring queries or submissions.

6. Publishing is a Small World. You never know where the agent you go on a rant about or who you unfollow on Twitter because they rejected you will end up in their career. They might move to the agency that you ultimately sign with. They could become an editor whom your future agent might query. Your agent could part ways with you or leave the industry, and now you need a new agent. Don’t burn bridges. Rejection is hard. No one likes it. But you should still remain a professional when faced with it. Keep rants to yourself or your friends. Don’t take it to your blog or social media.

7. The Most Important Fact: We do this job because we love it and are passionate about books!

Kristin's Book Club

I finished the audiobook last week. Angie here in the office has been waiting for me to finish so we could talk about this one–and talk we did. My book club doesn’t actually meet to discuss it until April 28. It’s going to generate some lively conversations about motherhood and questions about privilege within America’s upper middle class.

I do think Jodi Picoult says it best: “With brilliance and beauty, Celeste Ng dissects a microcosm of American society just when we need to see it beneath the microscope: how do questions of race stack up against the comfort of privilege, and what role does that play in parenting? Is motherhood a bond forged by blood, or by love? And perhaps most importantly: do the faults of our past determine what we deserve in the future?”

ABOUT THE NOVEL: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. 

New Releases

Nyxia Uprising

by Scott Reintgen

 

In the highly anticipated Nyxia Triad series finale, Emmett and the Genesis team must join forces with a surprising set of allies if they’re ever to make it home alive.

Desperate to return home to Earth and claim the reward Babel promised, Emmett and the Genesis team join forces with the Imago. Babel’s initial attack left their home city in ruins, but that was just part of the Imago’s plan. They knew one thing Babel didn’t. This world is coming to an end.

Eden’s two moons are on a collision course no one can prevent. After building eight secret launch stations, the Imago hoped to lure Babel down to their doomed planet as they left it behind. A perfect plan until the Genesis team’s escape route was destroyed.

Now the group must split up to survive the hostile terrain and reach another launch station. As both sides struggle for the upper hand, the fight leads inevitably back into space, where Emmett, his crewmates, and their new allies will fight one final battle for control of the Genesis ships. Win this time, and they’ll survive Babel’s twisted game once and for all. As the Imago world falls, this is the last chance to rise.

Buy It Here:

       

Prettyboy Must Die (Paperback)

by Kimberly Reid

A CIA prodigy’s cover is blown when he accidentally becomes an internet sensation in #Prettyboy Must Die, Kimberly Reid’s fun, fast thriller inspired by the #Alexfromtarget story and perfect for fans of Alex Rider.

When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during a late night run at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she posts that photo―along with the caption, “See the Pretty Boy Run,”―Peter knows he’s in trouble. But when hostiles drop through the ceiling of his 6th period Chem Class, Peter’s pretty sure his trouble just became a national emergency.

Because he’s not really Peter Smith. He’s Jake Morrow, former foster-kid turned CIA operative. After a massive screw-up on his first mission, he’s on a pity assignment, a dozen hit lists and now, social media, apparently. As #Prettyboy, of all freaking things.

His cover’s blown, his school’s under siege, and if he screws up now, #Prettyboy will become #Deadboy faster than you can say, ‘fifteen minutes of fame.’ Trapped in a high school with rabid killers and rabid fans, he’ll need all his training and then some to save his job, his school and, oh yeah, his life.

Buy It Here:

       

The Tiger at Midnight

by Swati Teerdhala

A broken bond. A dying land. A cat-and-mouse game that can only end in bloodshed. Esha lost everything in the royal coup—and as the legendary rebel known as the Viper, she’s made the guilty pay. Now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has only been growing more volatile.

When Esha and Kunal’s paths cross one fated night, an impossible chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces.

As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both the soldier and the rebel must decide where their loyalties lie: with the lives they’ve killed to hold on to or with the love that’s made them dream of something more.

Buy It Here:

       

Dear Ally: How Do You Write A Book?

by Ally Carter

Have you always wanted to write a book, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re really great at writing the first few chapters . . . but you never quite make it to the end? Or do you finally have a finished manuscript, but you’re not sure what to do next?

Fear not – if you have writing-related questions, this book has answers!

Whether you’re writing for fun or to build a career, bestselling author Ally Carter is ready to help you make your work shine.

With honesty, encouragement, and humor, Ally’s ready to answer the questions that writers struggle with the most.

Filled with practical tips and helpful advice, Dear Ally is a treasure for aspiring writers at any stage of their careers. It offers a behind-the- scenes look at how books get made, from idea to publication, and gives you insight into the writing processes of some of the biggest and most talented YA authors writing today.

Buy It Here:

       
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