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January 2016
A Message from Kristin Nelson

Time for the 2015 End-of-Year Stats!

Kristin Nelson

It’s that magic time of year when I tally up the numbers and share Kristin’s Yearly Stats! Apologies for being so slow to get this posted.

37  :  total number of New York Times bestsellers (up from 33 total in 2014)

51  :  books released in 2015 (22 print releases, 9 reprints, and 21 digital releases)

3  :  new clients, two of whom sold at auction for six figures. One deal is public, the other is not yet announced. The third client is going on submission next month!

29,000+  :  estimated number of queries read and responded to

87  :  full manuscripts requested and read (up from 45 last year)

129  :  number of sample pages requested and read (down from 856 last year. See my column Think Like An Agent below to learn why we requested far fewer sample pages this year than we have in years past.)

2  :  number of projects currently on submission

71  :  foreign-rights deals done (down from 99 last year, mainly because I only took on one client in 2014), 14 in Asia, 3 in Brazil, 3 in Mexico/Latin America, and 51 in Europe

4  :  TV and major motion picture deals

46  :  number of print runs for my longest-selling title, which is Jamie Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET—which originally published in 2009. Twelve for the hardcover version, 34 for the paperback—four of which occurred in 2015! Crazy for a title to still be getting reprints after six years.

8  :  conferences attended (which includes Bologna Book Fair, London, BEA, and Frankfurt Book Fair)

3 million+  :  copies in print/sold for my bestselling long-running series this year

2.5 million+  :  copies in print/sold for my bestselling individual title

3.5 million+  :  copies sold for my bestselling hybrid author

Millions and Millions  :  ebooks sold for four of my bestselling indie-publishing-only authors. I can’t even track anymore.

100  :  physical holiday cards sent

539  :  electronic holiday cards sent

Not telling it’s so embarrassing  :  number of eggnog chai lattes consumed during November and December

Lots  :  of late nights reading on my living-room chaise with Chutney

All  :  great days loving my job!

Happy New Year!

Pub Rants University

Recording only of Royalty Statements Auditing Workshop

Friday, December 01 at 12:00 pm

This is a recording of the Webinar held on July 30, 2015.

Chances are, your agent is not auditing your royalty statements. And chances are, accounting mistakes are being made. So if you’re not auditing your royalty statements, you could be missing out on significant income!

In this Webinar, Nelson Literary Agency’s contracts and royalties manager, Angie Hodapp, will walk you through the basics of royalties reporting and teach you how to read and audit your own royalty statements. Using statements from several big and mid-sized publishers as examples, Angie will explain how various publishers express returns, reserves, royalty-rate escalators, subrights income, bonus income, and more, and illustrate how everything adds up to affect your bottom line.

Finally, Angie will walk you through how to set up an Excel spreadsheet you can use each reporting period to track cumulative units sold and total earnings for each book you’ve had published. This valuable tool will also help you track your payments and find accounting errors!

You can buy access to this Webinar recording until December 1, 2017.

Register Now

eSpecial Price

FREE Starting January 11, 2016

Recent News
Think Like an Agent

#1 Reason We Requested Only 216 Sample Materials In 2015


At the beginning of 2015, I implemented new submissions guidelines. Instead of reading queries and then requesting sample pages, I now request that authors include the first ten pages of their manuscript along with their query letters.

What a difference! Instead of reading only 45 full manuscripts (like I did in 2014), I read 87 full manuscripts in 2015, plus 129 sample pages, and although many of these projects weren’t right for me, they did end up being right for another agent.

Now, having tried this new submissions process for a year, I can definitely identify some pros and cons.

PRO: I’m guessing writers probably love it. It gives them a chance to wow me with some opening pages, whereas before, if they didn’t perfectly nail the query letter, they might have been out of luck.

CON: Sometimes it takes me weeks longer to respond to queries than I would like. If I know I have to read some pages with it, I can’t just breeze in and get it done in 30 minutes. I need at least an hour to read the sample pages attached.

PRO: I’ve learned that some writers can nail the query letter, but their actual pages are not quite ready for an agent to read. And I can decipher this pretty quickly. This allows me to ask for full manuscripts of novels that are ready.

CON: It’s more pressure for the writer to really nail those opening pages.

PRO: The number of novels I read all the way to the end went up in 2015. It’s pretty rare for an agent to read an entire manuscript if they know early on that the project isn’t for them. I actually read many more novels to the conclusion before making a decision about offering representation.

CON: Man, I was a bit slow in getting back to some writers. I had several manuscripts for an embarrassingly long period of time.

INTERESTING TIDBIT: When I do ask for a full, I almost always make my decision on whether it’s right for me within the first 60 pages.

Kristin's Book Club

Book Club

864 page = 29 hours and 14 minutes of audio narration for Eleanor Catton’s THE LUMINARIES.

I may be the only person in my club to hang in there on this one. We actually haven’t met yet! A post-holiday book club meeting was overly optimistic, so we moved the meeting to February. And two months later, I’m just getting to part 3 of the audiobook. Track 41 to be precise. And I still have to make it to part four. That’s a heck of a lot of listening.

I must reiterate, though, how in awe I am of narrator Mark Meadows. I tallied up the number of accents he has to nail in order to read this book effectively. Often as many as four different accents in one scene as he switches from character to character.

From memory, the accents include:
New Zealand

I have a feeling I’m leaving some out… Regardless, Mr. Meadows is extraordinary. Listening simply for his performance is worthwhile.

Guest Article

Tech Tips Installment One: Metadata: a Definition, and Some Myths

Lori Bennett

Lori Bennett heads up daily operations at Nelson Literary Agency’s digital wing, NLA Digital.

Increasingly, my role at the agency has expanded from mostly sitting behind a computer (as you’d expect a software engineer to do) to being called upon to speak about the more technical aspects of self-publishing.

The latest such presentation I gave was at the fall 2015 NINC Conference. The topic I was asked to address was metadata. I’ll be breaking up the meat of my Metadata: Management and Maxims presentation into quarterly installments that I hope will educate and empower authors.


The standard definition of metadata is this: Metadata is data about data.

Huh? Talk about circular logic! What this basically means is that your book is the primary data, and all the other self-referential data associated with it—the title, the author, the book description, the price, the search categories you pick, the ISBN, etc.—is its metadata.

In general, the more metadata—i.e., the more pieces of information affiliated with your book—you have, the better. It’s silently working for you in the background, helping to strengthen your brand, to drive discoverability of your titles, and, with luck and skill in almost equal measure, to increase your sales.

Metadata Myths

Myth: Metadata is too technical and hard to learn. It’s best left to the experts.

Reality: Anyone armed with some knowledge and discipline can learn to produce better metadata.

Don’t get hung up on the technical sound of the term. After all, you know your own product data best: book description, search strings, categories, prices, etc. These are all examples of metadata. There are many more, but it’s not as mysterious as it sounds.

Myth: Metadata is static.

Reality: Metadata should be tuned periodically to reflect new releases, or information about your brand like awards and upcoming ventures.

This is not the time to “set it and forget it.” Successful authors know that metadata management is a process, and you may sometimes feel like you’re chasing a moving target. Unfortunately, you are.  The metadata management techniques you use today may not work in six months. All you can do is resolve to educate yourself and keep trying new things.

Myth: Metadata doesn’t make a difference in sales.

Reality: Happily, this is false!

You can see and hear an example of just how big an impact mastering your metadata can make in a video from the archives of Agent Kristin’s PubRants blog.

(Note/disclaimer: Some of the information in this video example is out of date, particularly the practice of mentioning other authors and/or titles in metadata, which is now discouraged, if not outright disallowed, at certain retail venues.)

Myth: Metadata doesn’t make a difference in sales, continued…

Reality: A more recent example of the power of metadata to drive sales was presented by Carolyn Reidy in her keynote address at the Book Industry Study Group’s annual meeting. Ms. Reidy, the president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, described how Galveston, the first novel by Nic Pizzolatto, experienced a huge sales boost once it was connected to Pizzolatto’s later work on the HBO series True Detective primarily through one piece of metadata: the book description. Prior to that, print and ebook sales of Galveston were under 1,000 annually.

Scribner rewrote the first line of the book’s online description to read “From the creator, writer, and executive producer of the HBO crime series True Detective.” Sales began to rise, and a reprint featured a new burst on the cover, which was displayed online. As a result, in 2014, Scribner sold more than 37,000 copies of Galveston in print and ebook editions. Reidy called it “truly a resurrection.” —Shelf Awareness Pro, September 21, 2015


I hope you’ve enjoyed this very brief intro to metadata. In later installments of this series, we’ll delve into some real-life examples of how you can tune specific, common metadata fields to your advantage.

Next Tech Tips installment: BISAC Basics

We’ll talk about what BISAC codes are, how to use them, how to supplement them, and what to do when you your preferred category is not yet implemented. We’ll also talk about the impending addition of over 500 new BISAC listings in 2016.

New Releases

Once Upon a Marquess

by Courtney Milan

The last man Judith Worth wants to see again is Christian Trent, the Marquess of Ashford—the man who spent summers at her family home, who kissed her one magical night…and then heartlessly ruined her father. But when a tricky business matter arises, he’s the only one she can ask for help. With any luck, he’ll engage a servant to take care of the matter, and she won’t even have to talk with him.

But Ashford has never forgotten Judith. He knows she will never forgive him for what he’s done, but when offered the chance to assist her, he arrives in person. His memory of Judith may have haunted him, but it pales in comparison to the reality of the vivacious, beautiful woman he rediscovers. Throughout his life, he has always done what is correct. But now, he finds himself doing something utterly wrong…falling in love with the one woman he can never have.

Buy It Here:


The Brimstone Deception

by Lisa Shearin

It’s called Brimstone. And after the first few hits, you’ll see every supernatural beast sharing the sidewalk, train, or office with you. After that, you’ll start seeing the really scary stuff.

I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for the SPI. And the collateral damage caused by Brimstone is something I’d like to unsee: dead drug dealers missing their hearts—and souls. Because your local pusher doesn’t stand a chance against the new cartel muscling its way into New York. And since the drug can only be produced with magic and molten brimstone fresh from Hell, that means a rift to the underworld is open somewhere in the city.

And when—not if—the cartel loses control of it, well…

It’s going to be Hell on earth.

Buy It Here:

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