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January 2020
A Message from Kristin Nelson

2019 End-of-Year Stats

Kristin Nelson

4 : Number of agents at NLA (same as in 2018)

354 : Number of full manuscripts requested and read (down from 442 in 2018) (Largely due to my closing to queries for several months of 2019)

127 : Number of manuscripts we requested that received offers of representation, either from us or from other agents/agencies (up from 110 in 2018)

14 : Number of new clients who signed with NLA (1 for Kristin, 4 for Danielle, 5 for Joanna, 4 for Quressa) (same total number as in 2018!)

26 : Number of book deals done (12 for Kristin, 6 for Danielle, 4 for Quressa, 4 for Joanna) (up from 21 in 2018)

45 : Number of career New York Times bestsellers for Kristin (up from 44 in 2018)

11 : TV and major motion picture deals (8 for Kristin, 2 for Danielle, 1 for Joanna) (up from 9 in 2018)

1 : Major motion picture released (Netflix’s BIRD BOX by my client Josh Malerman—technically in the last week of 2018 but hey, spotlighting it here)

45 : Books released in 2019 (up from 35 in 2018)

14,000+ : Queries read and responded to (estimated) (Down from an estimated 20,000+ in 2018 largely due to my being closed to unsolicited queries and open to referrals only for several months of 2019, as well as to other agents closing intermittently)

106 : Foreign-rights deals done (up from 64 in 2018)

6 : Conferences attended by Kristin, including Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Book Expo/BookCon, World Horror, Lighthouse Writers, Kachemak Bay Writers, Colorado Writing Workshop (down from 7 in 2018)

180 : Physical holiday cards sent (up from 155 in 2018)

838 : Electronic holiday cards sent (up from 835 in 2018) 

Not telling it’s so embarrassing : Eggnog chai lattes consumed during November and December

Lots : Late nights reading on my living-room chaise with the very senior and snuggly 16 and half year old Grand Dame Chutney

All : Great days loving my job!

Recent News

“In her middle grade debut, Carter offers up mystery, intrigue, and swashbuckling action in a rollicking story of long-lost secrets and found family."

Think Like an Agent

Have a Thrilling 2020!

By Joanna MacKenzie

Happy New Year! Some of us may have made resolutions to start the year—and decade—off right with new exercise plans or food-delivery systems, while others, like myself, are looking forward to a year of thrilling reads. We agents always say that trends come and go in the publishing market, but thrillers seem to be holding steady through 2020. Many of the early “most anticipated reads of 2020” lists are leaning into thrillers pretty hard. Here are some trends in the thriller genre that are not going away any time soon.

Couple-Based Stories. The tension in the interpersonal is still tops in the thriller genre. Reading about root-worthy characters getting out of toxic relationships is akin to a Friday-night escape room party for fans, so it’s not surprising that editors and readers alike are looking for new twists on toxic pairings. We love determined, strong-willed protagonists who will do anything to best their arch rivals, no matter the blood ties. Husbands and wives and eerie friendships have given way to creepy doctor-patient narratives as well as terrifying mom-and-daughter relationships.

Thrilling Issues. It doesn’t pay for a book to be ripped from the headlines anymore. Now editors and readers alike expect up-to-the-minute relevance. The more readers tap into the things that need fixing in our society, the more they will respond when they find books that tackle these subjects. Witty and timely insight on everything from race and privilege to helicopter parenting combined with a narrative that keeps readers on the edges of their seats will lead the genre this year.

Twists. The bar for big reveals keeps getting higher. Of utmost importance: Who is really behind the curtain, pulling the strings where your trusted narrator is concerned? Spouses, parents, siblings, in-laws, colleagues—no one can be trusted. The best thrillers this year will deliver twists that surprise and shock readers, leaving them looking over their shoulders every time they head out (or in!) their front doors.

Unreliable Narrators. Like gawker delays on your morning commute, readers and industry professionals alike remain drawn to dubious characters. The market has become accustomed to misunderstood protagonists who best their nemeses, so now we’re turning to stories where it seems no one is telling the truth. Dual (or more) points of view where neither character feels 100% grounded seem to to be the order of the day.

Of course all these “trends” just mean we’ll be on the lookout for that next book that flouts them all. At the end of the day, balance your eye for publishing trends with your desire to write the books of your heart. Write on!

Kristin's Book Club

A middle-aged book club chooses a Pulitzer Prizewinning book about a middle-aged man coming to terms with turning fifty, and it may be the most perfect book-club choice ever! Andrew Sean Greer’s LESS is hands down one of the most fantastic books I’ve read in a while. Humorous novels don’t often get the love and attention they deserve, and I’m definitely loving this one. I have such a soft spot for humor novels, and as the Washington Post highlights, “Greer is an exceptionally lovely writer, capable of mingling humor with sharp poignancy…”

That is exactly right. We’ll be meeting in two Sundays. Hope the other gals in my book club are enjoying the book as much as I am. From the description:

“Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes—it would be too awkward—and you can’t say no—it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world. How do you arrange to skip town? You accept them all…”

New Releases

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes

by Kathleen West

When a devoted teacher comes under pressure for her progressive curriculum and a helicopter mom goes viral on social media, two women at odds with each other find themselves in similar predicaments, having to battle back from certain social ruin.

Isobel Johnson has spent her career in Liston Heights sidestepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a liberal agenda, she’s in the spotlight. Meanwhile, Julia Abbott, obsessed with the casting of the school’s winter musical, makes an error in judgment that has far-reaching consequences for her entire family.

Brought together by the sting of public humiliation, Isobel and Julia learn firsthand how entitlement and competition can go too far, thanks to a secret Facebook page created as an outlet for parent grievances. The Liston Heights High student body will need more than a strong sense of school spirit to move past these campus dramas in an engrossing debut novel that addresses parents behaving badly and teenagers speaking up, even against their own families.

Buy It Here:



by Kristen Simmons


The series that began with The Deceivers continues in this second twist-filled installment from Kristen Simmons, author of Article 5 and The Glass Arrow.

The stakes are higher. The cons are riskier. And nothing is what you think it is.

Brynn Hilder is living a life she never dreamed possible: She lives in a mansion, getting a top-rate education at Vale Hall. She has friends and an almost-boyfriend. Anything she wants, she can have.

The only catch? To stay in this life, she has to help the director of Vale Hall take down the bad guys of Sikawa City by collecting secrets and running cons.

Getting everything she wants and fighting evil doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.

The thing is, she’s not so convinced anymore that Dr. Odin is really going after bad people after all. And the friends and almost-boyfriend that have made her life so different are all liars and con artists―so can she trust that any of it is real?

Buy It Here:


Nyxia Uprising (Paperback)

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:


The Deceivers (Paperback)

by Kristen Simmons

Kristen Simmons, the author of the Article 5 series and Metaltown, brings her remarkable imagination to this intrigue-filled contemporary drama where good kids are needed to do some very bad things in The Deceivers.

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials―because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark―a senator’s son―and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head.

Buy It Here:

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