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March 2020
A Message from Kristin Nelson

Coronavirus & U.S. Publishing

Kristin Nelson

Hello, newsletter readers. I know this message is coming a tad later than normal.

I hope when this email hits your inbox, you are safe and healthy while sheltering at home. If you are in the medical profession, I’m sending extra-warm health karma your way. You are on the front lines, and we here at NLA appreciate all you do. My mom is almost 80 now and long retired, but she was an RN. I know exactly what kinds of sacrifices you and your family are making right now.

As a way to jump into this month’s article, I re-read my February column. The words “and may become a global threat” have sadly come to fruition. In the last two weeks, our world has shifted on its axis. 

We here at the Denver office implemented work-from-home over nineteen days ago, so all of us are luckily sane and virus-free. As half our company already works remotely and all our main processes (including CRM and accounting) are cloud-based, we have seen very little disruption in our work flow. The agent team IMs every day, and we’ve been doing weekly video Chime meetings for the last four years, so it feels like business as usual for us. Where we work literally does not matter, although we all miss laughter and shared coffee.

Publishing as an industry can maintain some stability in this work-remotely world. I can report the following:

  • Contracts-in-process are closing in about the same amount of time as they were closing previously.
  • Payments and royalties have not been disrupted as almost all publishers pay via ACH.
  • Foreign deals are still happening, but they do feel a little slower.
  • Film/TV options are occurring, despite news of major agencies doing pay cutbacks and furloughs. I had two offers come in just this week.
  • NLA agents are submitting projects, and editors assure us they are eager to read. They have lots of time to read.

The publishing picture is currently stable, but I also want to speak to the reality of having physical stores nationwide shut down for weeks on end. I expect much lower physical print runs in the months to come. Recent releases saw much sharper drop-off in sales than what would have been normal. Although publishers’ marketing and publicity teams are devising alternative strategies, if households are strapped tighter with a layoff, etc., book sales will suffer. That translates to editorial boards being more discerning on what is acquired and definitely more conservative in advances offered. 

I anticipate a tightening across the board. Stay inside. Stay well.

Recent news articles:

Publishers Struggle With When and How to Move Pub Dates

HMH Reduces Salaries

Paradigm Layoffs

UTA Cuts Salaries


Recent News

Emilia Rhodes at HMH has acquired, at auction, the Prison Healer trilogy, a YA fantasy series by bestselling Australian author Lynette Noni.

Rosaria Munda’s FIREBORNE won the 2019 CYBILS Award for Speculative Fiction.

American Library Association names Slay as 2020 best title for young adult fiction

SLAY by Brittney Morris is listed on 2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project List

Think Like an Agent

In Loving Memory: Chutney, 2003-2020

By Kristin Nelson

On Monday, March 23, I shared on social media my tribute to my long-time office and couch buddy, Chutney Nelson. She was seventeen years old. We feel incredibly blessed to have had her in our lives for so long.

I want to say thank you for the outpouring of lovely sentiments about her. I miss her terribly, as you can imagine. I started the agency in August 2002. Eight months later she came into our lives. She and the agency grew up together as she came to the office almost every business day of the week.

She loved joyously greeting Lorenzo and Avel, our UPS delivery guys. Not to mention, they always stopped to give her a treat. She adored them. One year, she got into a barking match with Princess, the little poodle that came to work at the construction company across the atrium from us. (Yes, burly construction dudes had a miniature poodle named Princess.)

Chutney was equal opportunity office support. She would sleep under Angie’s desk upstairs, under Sam’s desk in the front office, or her fav place, under my or Brian’s desk. She was allowed as many “cookies” as she wanted and NLA employees obliged. Her favorite foods were ice cream and popcorn.

Every client I rep is someone I discovered while reading on the couch, Chutney curled up beside me or on my lap. The above picture is one of my favorites of the two of us. Taken in 2006, it shows how she would drape herself across my neck, snuggled against the wide arm of the our couch. My reading life is going to be very different from this point forward. I’ll be retraining myself  to read manuscripts without her.

I know many of you left lovely notes on Twitter and FB. Someday I’ll feel strong enough to go and read them, but every time I’ve tried this week, I’ve dissolved into tears. So know I heart you all for leaving them there. Thank you.

Rest in peace, Chutters.

Kristin's Book Club

A Title I Can Heartily Recommend

Over an amazing bowl of homemade zucchini pasta, book club met before all the virus chaos unfolded. It’s most likely going to be the last time we meet in-person for a while. But I’m happy to report we are doing a virtual happy hour with wine and cheese this evening. Book talk must go on!

My fellow clubbers and I absolutely adored LESS by Andrew Sean Greer. This is truly a delightful read about a soon-to-be-50 gay man having a rather hapless mid-life crises. Rarely do funny novels get Pulitzer attention, but this one did, and it’s very well deserved. 

Because humor can only take a story so far, it must also be poignant with ultra-sharp literary writing, and this novel has it all in abundance.

VERDICT: Heartily recommend!

Don’t have a copy yet? Support your local indie bookstore by buying a physical copy online or an audiobook via I’ve already jumped in and am listening to our next pick: the memoir INHERITANCE: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro.

New Releases

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor

by Ally Carter

New York Times best-selling author Ally Carter’s middle grade debut is full of mystery, mayhem, and friendship, and it will keep you guessing until the very end.

April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t the one who broke the vase. April didn’t ask to go live in a big, creepy mansion with a bunch of orphans who just don’t understand that April isn’t like them. After all, April’s mother is coming back for her someday very soon.

All April has to do is find the clues her mother left inside the massive mansion. But Winterborne House is hiding more than one secret, so April and her friends are going to have to work together to unravel the riddle of a missing heir, a creepy legend, and a mysterious key before the only home they’ve ever know is lost to them forever.

Buy It Here:


The Kingdom of Back

by Marie Lu

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish: to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in eighteenth-century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear. And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrical story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

Buy It Here:

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