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December 2018
A Message from Kristin Nelson

Count My Blessings (instead of sheep)

Kristin Nelson

As 2018 draws to a close, I’m feeling blessed. I have a lot to be thankful for. Bird Box the movie is releasing on Netflix December 21. I landed a multimillion-dollar deal for one of my clients. Many of my clients had an option book picked up by their editors. I did about a dozen film/TV deals for various clients (a record for me). This year was good. The only sad moment was when Jamie announced that he’s leaving, yet I’m still excited to see him launch a new career adventure. We are going to miss seeing his cheerful smile (and excellent taste in vests!) every day here at the office. 

I’m also thankful for Angie, our literary development director. She has been key to our success with her fast reads, timely analysis, and developmental-editing expertise. I’m thankful for my three terrific agent colleagues: Danielle, Quressa, and Joanna. They blew me away with their smart conversations and terrific deal-making this year. Because they aren’t ones to brag, I’m going to do so on their behalf. 

Danielle landed six amazing deals—three at auction (two of which will be announced soon), two for six-figures, her first picture book, four wonderful releases in 2018 (two of which were by debut authors), and two client books that made the Best of 2018 list. Check out her Publishers Marketplace page for details. 

Quressa in her very first year of agenting landed three amazing deals, one in a pre-empt and two in six-figure auctions. She even negotiated her first major TV deal (soon to be announced). Check out her Publishers Marketplace page for details. 

Joanna couldn’t stop the six-figure pre-empts/auctions/deals from happening. Two in July, two in September, and one in December (which was just announced this week!). Sam and I could barely keep up with the contracts. Check out her Publishers Marketplace page for details. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that 2019 is going to be even better as these three ladies are just getting started. Right now we are closed to query submissions, but we’ll be re-opening January 2, 2019, with a brand-new submissions process. Be sure to check out our guidelines January 2 before submitting. 

Happy Holidays, All! Spend time with good food, good friends, and family. Maybe even be a rebel and take a holiday from social media! 

All Best,


Recent News
Think Like an Agent

Resist the Temptation to Fib About an Offer of Rep

By Angie Hodapp

Last week, we received an email from an author who claimed to have received an offer of representation from another agent.

This in itself is not out of the ordinary. In fact, it’s customary that when you receive an offer of rep, you alert the other agents you queried and either (a) withdraw your submission, or (b) give the other agents a chance to throw their hats in the ring. If (b), then you’ll want to set a reasonable deadline—usually two weeks out—to allow the other agents time to request your manuscript and give it a thoughtful read.

So, yes. If you tell agents that you’ve received an offer of rep, your manuscript gets pulled out of the slush pile. It gets read. On a deadline! That you got to set!

For some, knowing this makes the temptation to fib too great to resist. Sometimes, writers get away with stunts like fabricating an offer of rep. But sometimes they don’t.

In this particular case, the first red flag went up because the author’s query came in less than 24 hours before their email letting us know they had an offer. That alone isn’t a pants-on-fire situation—after all, maybe we weren’t in the first round of queries they sent out—but it is the first thing that we look at. And a quick turnaround like that does give us pause.

The next red flag went up simply because I recognized the author’s name. A quick email search confirmed that they had queried us about a year ago. The name was sticking with me because that query, too, was rather immediately followed up with a claim of an offer of rep, that time from a different agent.

Because the agenting world is relatively small and everyone in it knows everyone else, two quick phone calls confirmed that neither agent had ever offered this author rep. Furthermore, this author also claimed to be critique partners with and have referrals from two different NLA clients—another myth all too easily debunked.

  • Pro Tip #1: An offer isn’t an offer unless the agent sends you their agency agreement for you to review.
  • Pro Tip #2: A referral isn’t a referral unless the referrer is willing to personally contact the agent on your behalf to sing your writerly praises. Otherwise, it’s just name dropping.

Writers, there are no shortcuts on the path to publication, and those who look for them often lose their way. At the end of the day, your name and the integrity you attach to it through your words and deeds are all you’ve got. Guard them as precious.

Kristin's Book Club

Murder on Iranian Soil

Despite the craziness of the holiday season, book club met for the last get-together of the year. I whipped up a pot of chili, and, on a chilly Sunday evening, we gathered to discuss Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Among the Ruins: A Rachel Getty and Sea Khattak Mystery. Although this is the third book in the series, you don’t need to have read the first two to fully enjoy it. Khan is a master of layering in the necessary backstory to keep readers in the know. Also, because this particular novel is set in Iran (as opposed to Toronto, Canada), the setting alone gives this novel a standalone feel. 

I personally enjoyed being immersed in the lush setting of Iran. Khan deftly weaves in the political turmoil of Iran’s current regime with the warmth of human stories caught in its web. This is a murder mastery (a Canadian filmmaker is murdered on Iranian soil), but it’s also an intriguing heist story. Letters from an imprisoned activist lend gravitas and heartbreak. 

Two book-club members found the opening chapters slow (so fair warning), but once in, you’ll be rewarded with a compelling and richly told story. I promise it is worth the little extra reading work.

Next up for January: Roz Chast’s nonfiction graphic novel (a first for book club!) called Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Guest Article

Jamie Says Goodbye to NLA

James Persichetti

James (Jamie) has been with NLA for three and a half years and is incredibly grateful for his experience here. While fantasy was his first love, he enjoys fiction of all genres. Editor by day and writer by night, he still finds time to practice various languages and is on a quest to find the perfect flour-to-egg ratio for fresh pasta.

I’m excited to announce that in January 2019 I will be setting off on my own path as a freelance developmental editor.

I’ve worked with Nelson Literary Agency for three and a half years as a submission coordinator (which is just a fancy title for slush reader) and foreign rights coordinator for the Asian territories.

While reading queries, I have always wanted to reach out to authors and give them a little help on their publishing journey. So many queries we have to pass on are almost there. Unfortunately, an agency receives far too many queries, and we just don’t have the time to offer advice to everyone who submits.

A little over a year ago, I began editing on the side and have presented workshops at writing conferences. In that time, I found my true passion is with working with authors more closely, diving into a manuscript (even the ones that are a hot mess), and finding the story’s gold. And in January, I’ll be moving on to do just that full-time.

I’ll be offering developmental editing, line editing, query and submission reviews, and one-on-one coaching. I can handle all genres in fiction and would absolutely love to work on projects with LGBTQ characters. Check out my website here (which I will be updating soon) and feel free to send me an email!

I cannot praise Nelson Literary Agency enough. My experience here has taught me so much about publishing, writing, and the industry as a whole. Everyone in the NLA family is truly wonderful and it’s been a joy working with them.

New Releases

The Frame-Up

by Meghan Scott Molin

By day she writes comic books. By night, she lives them.

MG Martin lives and breathes geek culture. She even works as a writer for the comic book company she idolized as a kid. But despite her love of hooded vigilantes, MG prefers her comics stay on the page.

But when someone in LA starts recreating crime scenes from her favorite comic book, MG is the LAPD’s best—and only—lead. She recognizes the golden arrow left at the scene as the calling card of her favorite comic book hero. The thing is…superheroes aren’t real. Are they?

When too-handsome-for-his-own-good Detective Kildaire asks for her comic book expertise, MG is more than up for the adventure. Unfortunately, MG has a teeny little tendency to not follow rules. And her off-the-books sleuthing may land her in a world of trouble.

Because for every superhero, there is a supervillain. And the villain of her story may be closer than she thinks…

Buy It Here:


The Color of Lies

by CJ Lyons

New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author CJ Lyons grabs you and won’t let go, keeping you guessing until the very last page of The Color of Lies.

High school senior Ella Cleary has always been able to read people. And for good reason: she has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses, allowing Ella to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions. Everyone but Alec’s.

Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life … until he reveals the real reason he sought her out. He wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths. And Ella’s world turns upside down when Alec tells her their deaths were not an accident.

After learning her entire life is based on a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she truly is. With family secrets slowly revealed and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

Buy It Here:

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