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March 2017
A Message from Kristin Nelson

Creating Positive Publishing Karma In Your Career

Kristin Nelson

This was an odd week in the query inbox. Two months ago, we replied to a query by letting the author know the project wasn’t right for us. This week, the author decided to email us to “withdraw the query” because the project had sold.

This reminded me of letter I received not long ago from an author whose project I had passed on in 2006. Ten years had passed, and this author still took the time to write and send me a stamped letter detailing the project’s publishing success—everything from total units sold to foreign-territory sales.

First, what fabulous news! Every sale should be celebrated! But perhaps not by writing to agents who passed on offering representation. Here’s why.

We here at NLA never presume that a pass from us means a project can’t sell. So much of this business is about personal connection, market timing, and how crazy the agent is in that moment. If I have 5 client manuscripts that need to be read and feedback given, my submission inbox is not the priority.

And goodness knows, I’ve written any number of articles on projects that weren’t right for me but then went on to sell via another agent and with good success. In fact, I always try and be very encouraging for just that reason.

Maybe it wasn’t the author’s intention to give us a proverbial thumbing of the nose. However, it does demonstrate a bit of what I would call professional immaturity. In what context would such an email be positive? And how many other agents who passed on this project received the same email? Such communications might come back to haunt this author in unexpected ways.

For example, when it comes time for publication, this debut author might want a blurb from a published author. Blurb requests usually come through the published author’s agent, and an agent might be less inclined to assist if they noted the debut author’s past behavior. Unlikely for us, because honestly we don’t track these kinds of communications—but, hey, other agents might. You never know.

And never knowing is the point. Why put anything out there that someone in the industry might mentally check mark? Why do anything that might lead—whether by itself or cumulatively along with other professionally immature behaviors—to career suicide, especially when you’re just beginning this exciting journey?

Trust me, the satisfaction that might be derived in the moment is not worth the risk.

Publishing is a small world. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone talks. Keep all interactions positive and professional. And celebrate that sale in a positive way on social media or with your friends, family, or brand-spanking-new editor and publishing home.

Our pass doesn’t necessarily equal “writer doesn’t have talent.” There really isn’t a score to settle. Letting go of that notion will only bring positive publishing karma into your career.

NLA Digital Title Spotlight


Recent News
Think Like an Agent

The Other Side of Rejection

By Joanna MacKenzie

Every author has a rejection stats—how many rejections they received before they finally got an offer. We’ve all heard about the famous ones, like how many bazillion agents passed (and now deeply regret having done so) on Harry Potter and Twilight. But what about the yeses that came thanks to a little elbow grease? You know, the authors who were invited to revise and resubmit a project? Or the ones who simply asked an agent, “Would you look again?”

Some of you may be wondering what a “revise and resubmit” is, so let me start there. I won’t lie. It’s a test. Sometimes, when we see a project with loads of potential but that’s still a little rough around the edges, we think, Man, there’s just something about this book. We can’t take it on or sell it as is, but what if the author could fix it? Is this author a capable reviser? Let’s find out! So we offer the author editorial comments with the caveat that if they choose to revise as suggested, then we get dibs on the revised manuscript.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a “revise and resubmit” request, here’s a little advice:

  • Do be professional. We rarely offer editorial comments on an unsigned project. When an agent opens the door with an invitation for a revise and resubmit, don’t barrel through.
  • Do take your time. A thoughtful revision takes time. We know this. We’ll wait.
  • Do go for broke. The agent already sees something in your project, so take this opportunity to show them they’re not wrong. Commit to the revision, even if it takes your project in a new direction. It shows us you’re taking your writing career seriously.
  • Do create a relationship. I was ready to pass on a revised and resubmitted manuscript when the author asked if they could try again. I agreed because they had been courteous and thoughtful about their work. I sold that manuscript a few months later.
  • Don’t revise if our editorial feedback doesn’t feel right. In the end, the novel is yours, and you make the ultimate decision. Just know we aren’t the right agent partner for you and decide not to resubmit it to us.
  • Don’t reply in anger at our editorial suggestions.
  • Don’t turn a revision around in a week. We will be very skeptical that you truly dug in and did the work required of a major revision.

You may be wondering if you can ever resubmit without an overt invitation. Sure, but the same rules apply—exponentially so. First you must ask yourself if the agent has truly opened the door. There’s a fine line between being assertive and being pushy. If you received a complimentary pass that contained suggestions, and you’ve thoughtfully revised based on those, it’s worth a chance to drop the agent an email and say that their notes got you thinking and, if they’re game, you’d like to resubmit. After all, it’s always nice to hear that our comments were put to good use.

Kristin's Book Club

Coming of Age in a Landscape of Art & Death

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, April’s meet-up is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. This is our first time tackling a Tartt novel (although she has been on our radar since the release of The Secret History a decade+ ago).

I’m halfway through the audiobook, and I completely love the immersion into a breathtaking mastery of writing; however, I can already see what might be the divide for readers of this novel.

This novel is either going to be an unwieldy 784 page book or a lengthy page turner.

Publishers Weekly says, “Theo is magnetic, perhaps because of his well-meaning criminality. The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read; with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great.”

Contrast that with Booklist’s starred review: “Drenched in sensory detail, infused with Theo’s churning thoughts and feelings, sparked by nimble dialogue, and propelled by escalating cosmic angst and thriller action, Tartt’s trenchant, defiant, engrossing, and rocketing novel conducts a grand inquiry into the mystery and sorrow of survival, beauty and obsession, and the promise of art.”

New Releases

Long May She Reign

by Rhiannon Thomas

Freya was never meant to be queen. Twenty-third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of the court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

She may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, she knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom—and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisers. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

Buy It Here:


Among the Ruins

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

On leave from Canada’s Community Policing department, Esa Khattak is traveling in Iran, reconnecting with his cultural heritage and seeking peace in the country’s beautiful mosques and gardens. But Khattak’s supposed break from work is cut short when he’s approached by a Canadian government agent in Iran, asking him to look into the death of renowned Canadian-Iranian filmmaker Zahra Sobhani. Zahra was murdered at Iran’s notorious Evin prison, where she’d been seeking the release of a well-known political prisoner. Khattak quickly finds himself embroiled in Iran’s tumultuous politics and under surveillance by the regime, but when the trail leads back to Zahra’s family in Canada, Khattak calls on his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, for help.

Rachel uncovers a conspiracy linked to the Shah of Iran and the decades-old murders of a group of Iran’s most famous dissidents. Historic letters, a connection to the Royal Ontario Museum, and a smuggling operation on the Caspian Sea are just some of the threads Rachel and Khattak begin unraveling, while the list of suspects stretches from Tehran to Toronto. But as Khattak gets caught up in the fate of Iran’s political prisoners, Rachel sees through to the heart of the matter: Zahra’s murder may not have been a political crime at all.

Buy It Here:


Wool - Illustrated Kindle edition

by Hugh Howey

In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.

Buy It Here:



by Sierra Kincade

The second in the scorching hot Deep Connection trilogy from the author of Forsaken.

Cole Talent never had to go looking for trouble. It always had a way of finding him. After his father’s arrest, the family money is gone, their name is in the mud, and both of Cole’s sisters, Elaina and Marsella, are missing. In search of answers, Cole leaves Reno for the last place he heard from Marsella—Ambrose, Ohio—and instead finds MacKenzie Sharp, the beautiful owner of the diner where Marsella once worked.

But others have followed Cole from Reno, intent on bringing the family down for good. When MacKenzie gets caught in the crossfire, the only chance she has at safety is to go into hiding with the one man who put her in danger. From Reno to Ohio and now Vegas, trouble keeps finding Cole. But with MacKenzie in danger, it’s time to stop running and face it head on.

Buy It Here:

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