This week's Agent Spotlight features Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency, LLC.
Status: Accepting submissions.
About: “Kristin has her B.A. from the University of Missouri at Columbia and is a graduate of the nationally respected University of Denver Publishing Institute. In the early nineties, she studied creative writing with National Book Award Nominee Patricia Henley at Purdue University where she earned her M.A. This makes her particularly interested in representing fiction.
“Before opening her own agency, she learned the ropes working for another literary agent. As for her previous work history, Kristin has been a college English teacher, a freelance writer, and a corporate trainer for business communication topics before embracing her true passion of agenting.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“Nelson Literary Agency was founded in 2002 and is based in the chic/hip urban setting of lower Downtown Denver—otherwise known as Lodo. Embodying a modern philosophy that technology is meant to be used, the Nelson Agency is a living example that a powerhouse agency does not have to be located in New York.
“In such a short time, the Nelson Agency has sold more than 100 books, landed several film deals, and has contracted foreign rights on behalf of our clients in all the major territories, including Germany, France, Holland, Japan, and even Russia and Indonesia. Nelson Agency authors have become national bestsellers, RITA-award winners, and have appeared on bestseller lists such as The New York Times, USA Today, Barnes & Noble, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and The Denver Post.
“We are a hands-on agency that strongly believes in taking on clients for their whole career. We provide editorial and marketing guidance as well as aggressive expertise in contract negotiation.” (Link)
What She's Looking For:
From the Nelson Lit Website:
“Nelson Literary Agency represents fiction for adult, young adult and middle grade books. We work with literary and commercial fiction. For nonfiction, we are only interested in memoir. We are currently seeking: Literary (with a commercial bent), Commercial mainstream, Women's fiction, Romance (all types for single title except inspirational), Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Memoir.” (Link)
From an Interview (03/2010):
“If the manuscript is well-written with an original concept, we are interested in all submissions for young adult and middle grade. Don't look at our current list and make assumptions that we wouldn't like dark or wouldn't like a male protagonist or anything like that. We love everything in the YA and MG field.” (Link)
From an Interview (01/2010):
“I’d love to see more literary fiction with that strong commercial bent—like Jamie Ford. Great storytelling, lovely writing, and a dynamic plot to really drive the story. I see a lot of literary fiction with superb writing but there’s no solid plot to keep the pace strong. I certainly see the value in beautifully written and introspective literary fiction such as Prague—but it’s not right for me.
I want literary fiction with a genre plot—if that makes any sense.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
"We do not look at submissions for screenplays, short story collections, poetry, horror, mystery (unless chick lit), thriller, children’s picture books, any nonfiction except as listed above, or material for the Christian/Inspirational market." (Link)
“For me, the project has to be extraordinary to add a new client to my list so in a sense, I’m taking on very few clients right now but I’m still hoping for that project that makes me drop everything to take it on. But don’t despair! My associate agent Sara Megibow is actively growing her client list so we are looking at a lot of stuff from new writers. There’s a ton of room on her list right now so bring on the great projects.” (Link)
“If you can’t navigate the Internet world, you are at a significant disadvantage in comparison to your competition—especially in the realm of children’s books.
Where do you think the young readers are? You as an author had better be there too!” (Link)
“I have a great network of publicists that I can put my authors in touch with. I often hound the publisher about what they'll be doing for the client but other than that, I'm an agent not a publicist. […] I expect my authors to be savvy about all the publicity open and available to them even if they don't want to spend a lot of money. There are a lot of ways to leverage the internet etc.” (Link)
Yes. “We are a hands-on agency that strongly believes in taking on clients for their whole career. We provide editorial and marketing guidance as well as aggressive expertise in contract negotiation.” (Link)
Ms. Nelson’s clients include: Sarah Rees Brennan, Gail Carriger, Ally Carter, Megan Crewe, Lucienne Diver, Simone Elkeles, Jamie Ford, Janice Hardy, Carolyn Jewel, Mari Mancusi, Courtney Milan, Paula Reed, Kristina Riggle, Lisa Shearin, Linnea Sinclair, Helen Stringer, Sherry Thomas.
As 05/11, Ms. Nelson is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 11 deals in the last 12 months, 18 six-figure+ deals, and 70 overall. Recent deals include 6 young adult, 2 women’s/romance, 1 sci-fi/fantasy, 1 international rights, and 1 graphic novel.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
One page query by e-mail. Put QUERY and the title of your project in the subject line. No attachments.
"If we are interested, we will send you a reply email with explicit directions on how to upload sample pages to our electronic submission database. We are an environmentally-friendly, paper-free office."
See the Nelson Literary website for complete up-to-date submission guidelines.
There are Query Dos and Don’ts listed in this interview at WOW.
There are Query Letter and Book Proposal tips in the FAQ on the site.
Very fast. The agency's stated response time is 5-10 days with occasional longer instances. Stats on the web show Ms. Nelson generally responds to queries within hours to a couple weeks. Her response time on requested material appears to be days to a few weeks.
What's the Buzz?
Ms. Nelson is a highly respected literary agent. She’s shed tremendous light on the publishing industry via her blog, Pub Rants, and continues to educate writers and industry professionals on a weekly basis. She’s a member of the AAR and listed as “highly recommended” on P&E. If you can gain her representation, you’re sure to be in good hands. See this post for the agency’s 2010 statistics.
Worth Your Time:
SCBWI Bologna 2010 Agent Interview: Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency at Cynsations (03/2010).
Agent Advice Interview with Kristin Nelson at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (01/2010).
2k9 Agent and Editor Interview Series - Kristin Nelson at Class of 2K9 (09/2009).
The Inside Scoop from Kristin Nelson by Sue Donckels at WOW (2007?).
An Interview with Denver Literary Agent Kristin Nelson at New West Books & Writers (10/2007).
Interview with an Agent, Kristin Nelson at Dear Author (07/2007).
Ms. Nelson has one of the best industry blogs around, and I’d be listing posts for days if I tried to highlight the particularly helpful. Check out the sidebar on her blog, Pub Rants, where she’s linked all her Agent 101 posts, Client Queries that Worked, Submission Pitch Letters to Editors, and an entire Query Pitch Workshop. If you have a question about publishing or her agenting style, it’s likely she’s covered it at some point. Check the labels for archived posts.
Around the Web:
See the Nelson Literary FAQ for more info about the agency and submitting.
Consider subscribing to the (free) Nelson Literary newsletter for more inside scoop.
Kristin Nelson: 2 Quick Tips on Writing Query Letters, video at Janet Goldstein’s site (04/2011).
Successful Queries: Agent Kristin Nelson and Give up the Ghost at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (05/2010).
Successful Queries: Agent Kristin Nelson and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (10/2009).
Please see the Nelson Literary website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 5/5/11.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.