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August 2019
A Message from Kristin Nelson

How Paper and Printer Shortages Impact Writers

Kristin Nelson

Seventeen years in this biz and just when I think I’ve seen it all, something new and unforeseen comes down the pike. Publishing is currently grappling with two issues wreaking all kinds of interesting havoc. 

1) Paper Shortages

Get up to speed on what’s unfolding here and here.

2) Printing Capacity Concerns

Read industry articles about this issue here and here. 

I’m sure all of us can sympathize with the plight facing today’s publishers. During the rise of ebooks, several printers struggled and went out of business. Then, when it became clear that physical books were still here to stay, well, the hole those businesses left in the market became a lot more obvious. On a serious note, what is happening for publishers is impacting soon-to-be and already-published authors. Here’s how:

1) Release dates are being pushed out, especially for debuts. Releases are being delayed weeks, sometimes longer. That’s a big deal and can be heartbreaking for the author, given how far in advance publicists and authors plan for a release. 

2) Paperback editions are being delayed. That means hardcover editions are on the shelf longer as the only option for buyers who prefer to read physical editions. There are definitely pros and cons to this. It’s great if the hardcover is selling well. It’s not great if readers are waiting to buy the more affordable paperback edition. For most types of books, far more money will be made in paperback sales than in hardcover sales, so both publishers and writers will feel the pinch of a delayed paperback release. Which leads us right into item 3…

3) Publishers are deciding not to release a paperback editions at all. And now with tariffs coming into the mix, we are living in interesting publishing times. 

Aspiring authors might think, “I’m not there yet, so this doesn’t impact me.” Well, you’d be wrong. As agents, we are seeing an indirect impact—editors are acquiring fewer books in 2019. Paper shortages and printer delays are not necessarily the sole reasons, but we agents can extrapolate that imprints are taking fewer risks; they’re acquiring fewer authors who can “build” and focusing instead on acquiring the “sure bets” or titles that can “break out big.” 

Unfortunately, that means if you’re a new author looking to get published for the first time, it’s now harder to get that foot in the door. That doesn’t mean you should give up hope or stop writing. The publishing business is, as ever, in flux, but the power of great stories endures.

Recent News
Think Like an Agent

What's Working in Women's Fiction?

By Joanna MacKenzie

I’m like Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, in You’ve Got Mail. I love fall, with its back-to-school shopping and bouquets of sharpened pencils. I know, you’re thinking, “It’s still August,” but the evenings are getting shorter and cooler, and the pool has started its end-of-season schedule. Fall will be here before we know it.

September is also when publishing comes back to life following the awesomeness of summer Fridays and vacations, and I’m getting ready. Because for me, fall means a fresh queue of manuscripts. This year I want to line my inbox with women’s fiction and bookclub fiction, so with that in mind, here’s what’s working and what I’d love to see more of.

Where the Universal Intersects with the Personal. Adulting is hard at the best of times, between bills and student-loan payments. Add to that the pressure to have kids (or the judgement if you chose not to), to find a life partner, to get promoted, to make Instagram-worthy meals…and that’s before you throw our current political and cultural climate into the mix. It’s not surprising that anxiety is on the rise in the US. Stories where big-picture ideas are lived out in the everyday, like Emily Giffin’s All We Ever Wanted or Laurie Frankle’s This Is How It Always Is, are having a moment, one that I don’t think is going to end anytime soon. I’d love to see more of these stories. Where viral videos destroy marriages. Where women rebel against the mean moms in their community. Or where one character decides to rise up against the curated lives being lived online in their own way.

Next Acts. You don’t stop living when your life falls apart, and stories that find their heroes and heroines standing on the precipice of moving forward following a major life change are in demand. I’d love to see more stories about finding love later in life (give me a mid-life rom-com, please), figuring out what it means to be a mom when your kids move out of the house, or trying to reinvent yourself after the business you’ve poured your heart and soul into collapses. The thing with starting-over stories, like Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, is that they have to be anchored by a relatable protagonist, and they have to embody some of the elements from the first item listed above. We’ve all seen the clichés about divorce, empty nests, and failed ventures. The truly successful stories here will be the ones that breathe new life into these familiar plots.

Modern Epic. In the This Is Us era, readers are looking for stories that provide a type of road map for a life fully lived. Personally, I’d love to see more narratives about families who make it through, who survive moves and infidelities and lies and deaths. Now that we’re approaching 2020, these stories don’t have to start in the dark ages. Take The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo or Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything as an example. I’m intrigued by the modern epic, a story that goes deep into one or two generations to really examine what makes a family.

Do you have a manuscript that fits the bill? I’d love to read it! Click here to send me your query letter and first ten pages.

Kristin's Book Club

From Idaho to Greece

I miss the ladies of Book Club, so I’m delighted that we are meeting the last Sunday of August to get back into the groove of books, wine, and gossip. I just finished listening to the audiobook of Tara Westover’s memoir EDUCATED, so check, I’m ready. Our next pick is CIRCE by Madeline Miller. Yep, from Idaho to Greece! About CIRCE:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts, and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

New Releases


by Gail Carriger

Young, bookish, and perfectly proper, Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when tea duels, beautiful doctors and airships collide in the delightful conclusion to NYT bestselling author Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol series.

Percival Tunstell loves that his sister and her best friend are building themselves a crazy family of misfits on board their airship, the Spotted Custard.

Of course, he’d never admit that he belongs among them. He’s always been on the outside – dispassionate, aloof, and hatless.

But accidental tea dueling, a trip to Japan, and one brash and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life.

Except hats. He’s done with hats. Thank you very much.

Buy It Here:


The Downstairs Girl

by Stacey Lee

Some secrets just won’t stay buried.

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. By night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.”

When her column becomes wildly popular, Jo uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.

Buy It Here:


The Ventriloquists

by E.R. Ramzipoor

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.

The Nazis stole their voices. But they would not be silenced.

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda.

Helene’s world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network that publishes dissident underground newspapers.

The Nazis track down Aubrion’s team and give them an impossible choice: turn the resistance newspapers into a Nazi propaganda bomb that will sway public opinion against the Allies, or be killed.

Faced with no decision at all, Aubrion has a brilliant idea. While pretending to do the Nazis’ bidding, they will instead publish a fake edition of Le Soir that pokes fun at Hitler and Stalin—daring to laugh in the face of their oppressors.

The ventriloquists have agreed to die for a joke, and they have only eighteen days to tell it.

Buy It Here:


The Sixth Wicked Child

by JD Barker

In the riveting conclusion of the 4MK trilogy, Barker takes the thriller to an entirely new level. Don’t miss a single word of the series James Patterson called “ingenious.”

Hear No Evil

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten; a past intentionally buried and left for dead. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth concealed for decades.

See No Evil

Found with the bodies, the words link multiple victims to a single killer—discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina—clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos—a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious 4MK serial killings turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation, but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

Buy It Here:

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