Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Patricia Nelson here. She is a literary agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey at least temporarily. I will be providing all the same information we’ve shared in the past in an interview format. In addition, one lucky commenter will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi Patricia! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Patricia:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

I've been an agent with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency since 2014. Prior to joining MLLA, I was pursuing a PhD in English and teaching writing and literature at the college level. But my dream job had always been to work in publishing, so eventually I decided it was time to make the leap. After a few internships, I was fortunate enough to land a position as an agency assistant and eventually moved up to agent. I say it often, and it’s true: this is the best job out there!
About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

Marsal Lyon Literary Agency was founded in 2009; our founders collectively have over four decades of experience in the publishing industry. The agency represents multiple award-winning and New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors. We are regularly ranked in the top five dealmakers for fiction on Publisher’s Marketplace.

Our goal is to help find homes for books that engage, entertain, and make a difference. From conception, through a collaborative and engaged editorial process, to finding a publisher and beyond, we partner with our authors to ensure success in finding the right publisher and long term success on the market. We want to work with authors not just for a book but for a career — we are dedicated to building long-term relationships with our authors and publishing partners.

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

On the children’s side, I represent all genres of MG & YA fiction, and I also represent women’s fiction and select adult romance. For middle grade, I generally lean toward warm, heartfelt stories with pitch-perfect voice – and a touch of humor or a splash of magic doesn't hurt. On the young adult side, I have quite wide ranging tastes and am open to contemporary realistic stories as well as more fantastical premises (including sci-fi/fantasy as well as contemporary fantasy and magical realism) -- as long as the book has a stand-out voice, beautiful writing, and a captivating and original plot. I tend to gravitate toward the quirky, strange, unusual and/or offbeat, and love innovative narrative structures when the author pulls them off. I'm actively looking for diverse books and underrepresented voices in all genres/categories that I represent.
4. Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

You can always find my most up-to-date specific wishlist items on my Manuscript Wishlist page, but more than anything else, I want to find books that I fall in love with and can’t imagine not working on. These are often the books that I wouldn’t have even known to ask for – weird and wonderful voices and stories that surprise me. If you think we might be a fit, I'm excited to take a look!
What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

Right now I’m still having a tough time with YA paranormal romance, dystopian, and urban fantasy, so anything in these genres would have to be very special for me to take it on. I love YA fantasy, but I’m feeling a little overloaded on assassins and medieval-inspired worlds right now – I’m finding myself drawn mostly to YA fantasy where the characters and world-building feels very different from what’s already out there.

As mentioned above, middle-grade gross-out humor doesn’t tend to be to my taste; I also probably would not be the best agent for Rick Riordan-style MG adventure.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

One of the best things about this job is getting to work with people I believe in and who are just generally excellent human beings. I’m looking for authors who in addition to being talented are professional, hard-working, kind, collaborative, and dedicated to learning and growing their craft.
In terms of what kinds of books I want to represent, that’s simple: books I love and that I can’t imagine not representing. Falling love with an author’s voice on the page really does feel like falling in love: my pulse starts racing, I get excited/nervous/excited, I want to shout about this wonderful thing I’ve found to everyone who’ll listen, I start planning for the future – I think every author deserves an agent who had that kind of enthusiasm for their work.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

Yes, I think that in the very competitive current market it’s crucial to send out a book in the strongest possible form to give it the best shot of getting published. I’m very hands-on with my clients as we prepare a book for submission, and work with authors on everything from big-picture notes on character arcs and plot logistics to more detailed comments on the level of individual lines.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

Please send a query letter along with first 10 pages of the novel pasted in the body of the email to patricia[at]marsallyonliteraryagency[dot]com.
9. Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

Like many agents, I consider it a red flag when authors compare their novels to children’s classics (A WRINKLE IN TIME and THE GIVER are great, but we’re in a very different market now) or mega-bestsellers like HARRY POTTER (this level of success is an outlier, and if an author is expecting that, I assume they have unrealistic expectations and will be disappointed when they learn the realities of the market). It’s also best to avoid mentioning that you think your book would make a great movie – first I hope you want it be a great book!

Also, the redundant term “fiction novel” drives me completely bananas.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I try to reply to queries within 2-3 weeks and requested materials within 2-3 months, although occasionally it does take me a bit longer.
Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11. Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

Yes, previously published authors are welcome, but please only query me with never-before-published projects. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for an agent to sell a previously self-published novel unless the sales are astronomical. If you’ve already hit the self-publish button and then decide you want to pursue a traditional path, the best path is to write the next book and then query agents with that new project.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

As time goes on, agents are becoming more and more like career managers, helping authors think not just about a single book but about branding and career arc as a whole. Hybrid authors often appreciate the long-term strategic planning that an agent can bring to their work.
For authors who are interested exclusively in self-publishing or publishing with small presses, I think an agent isn’t always as necessary. Most agents are still best suited to help authors who are interested in seriously pursuing traditional publication in some form, even if its one of many avenues.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

My wonderful clients include Hayley Chewins (The Turnaway Girls), Margaret Dilloway (Summer of a Thousand Pies), Candice Iloh (Every Body Looking), Mary McCoy (I, Claudia), Anna Meriano (This is How We Fly), Axie Oh (Rebel Seoul), Jaime Questell (By a Charm and a Curse), Sandy Stark-McGinnis (Extraordinary Birds), Kristi Wientge (Honeybees and Frenemies), Alexandra Leigh Young (Idol Gossip), bestselling adult fiction authors Kate Bateman, Sarina Bowen, Charis Michaels and Loretta Nyhan, and more.
Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.


Links and Contact Info:

15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

Please send a query letter to patricia[at]marsallyonliteraryagency[dot]com. Feel free to include the first 10 pages of the novel pasted in the body of the email. No attachments please.
For more information, our agency website is at: marsallyonliteraryagency.com. I’m also active on twitter at @patricianels, where I tweet frequently about what I’m reading, what my clients are writing, and anything else I’m excited about.

Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

Know the market. Connect to a writing community. Read craft books (I frequently recommend SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder!) and keep improving. Revise until you can’t imagine revising anymore, then revise again. Find critique partners you trust and learn from them. Keep going: if 10 agents reject your book, send it to 10 more; if 100 agents reject your book, write another book. Published authors are the aspiring writers who didn’t give up.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Patricia.

Patricia is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through March 26th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Profile Details:
Last Updated: 5/19/2020
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed by Agent? 5/19/2020

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.


Kristin Lenz said...

Great to see an agent spotlight again, Natalie! I know several authors represented by this agency, and both Kevan and Kathleen worked together to give me some great feedback a few years ago. Sounds like you're off to a great start, Patricia.

Julie Walters said...

My ms is geared toward LGBTQ YA with a Jewish main character and it is exciting to see agents looking for this type of layered diversity. Too many of our youth struggle to be true to themselves while also meeting family and social expectations, and books that help people understand that they are not alone in these struggles are crucial. (julie.k.walters@gmail.com)

Michael said...

I love this advice: "...if 10 agents reject your book, send it to 10 more; if 100 agents reject your book, write another book" Thank you for this interview! I shared it on twitter and facebook.

Jessica Lawson said...

Great interview~ thanks, ladies!

Melissa said...

I love these agent spotlights-keep them coming! I appreciate the chance to win a critique and also shared this on twitter.

Ambiguous_A said...

Great advice, and thanks for the giveaway! And I tweeted about the contest. :) @Ambiguous_A08

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great interview! I love reading about agents.

And thanks for the contest! I would love to win and I tweeted about it.

Chelly Writes said...

Excellent advice. And thanks for the giveaway.

mpike818 (at) gmail (dot) com

Beverley Baird said...

Wonderful interview - great advice. thanks so much for this and the giveaway.

Romance Book Haven said...

Great advice, and thanks for the giveaway!

Unknown said...

Great info. Thanks for providing the chance for a query critique. Also shared via twitter!

S said...

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the giveaway!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Excellent interview. Thanks for all the great information. I've shared this query letter critique opportunity on facebook, google+, and twitter.

Tyrean Martinson said...

First, I want to say that I truly appreciate the depth and details you reached in this interview! Thank you for all the information. I'll be book-marking this page and tweeting it out. However, since I'm 1/4 into a new project, I'm not in the right place for a query. I'll just have to hope that I have something at a later date that would suit.

LVP said...

Excellent interview. I love learning about what agents have to say, especially what they're looking for and what they're getting tired of seeing. Tells a lot!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Good book before a good movie - no duh!

Thank you for stating that agents like you would prefer works that aren't already self-published. Most publishers feel the same way.

Unknown said...

Great spotlight, thanks! I'd love to be considered for the query giveaway. (klarreic@gmail.com)

M Pax said...

Great to meet Patricia and learn more about her agency.

Waves to Natalie!

Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo said...

A great interview! Thank you for the excellent advice for aspiring authors. I have re-posted in Facebook and Twitter. Thank you so much! Jeanne Zulick jmzulick@aol.com

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interview and nice to meet Patricia. I always like hearing what agents are looking for, and I'd love to see more quirky stories out there too.

Carla Luna Cullen said...

Great interview! Very helpful and thorough - perfect for writers in the query trenches!

Annmarie said...

I'd love to get a query critique. Enter me for sure! sophia.kai.charis@gmail.com

Sherry Howard said...

I love the time and thought displayed in this interview. Thanks for the information sharing!

Bound said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'm so glad Patricia and other agents are so open about what they want and give good advice!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Yes, it's wonderful to see Agent Spotlights again. Thanks Natalie for all your work on this blog. (I don't seem to be able to leave a comment except as a reply - something about my computer security settings.)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the informative interview. I'd love to win the query critique.

Marilyn said...

Great interview! As always, useful and informative! Thank you.

Tom Rains said...

I like the advice that, if you are rejected by 100 agents, write another book. Hard to learn that way but so true!

Unknown said...

Wonderful interview. Thanks!

One Latina's Pen said...

Last month I entered a contest such as this and Ms.Nelson gave me valuable feedback on my query. I wanted to thank her for her recommendations and say I appreciated her advice. Mona AlvaradoFrazier

Rosi said...

Very informative interview. Thanks for all that good advice.

Snuffalupagus said...

Love these articles! Can't wait for the next one.

thebloggingbadger2032.blogspot.com said...

Ms. Nelson sounds great! I look forward to submitting. My email is thebadgerproject@hotmail.com
I mentioned this on twitter @thebadgrproject

janflora said...

I have been following Ms. Nelson on Twitter for a while and also just checked her out on the new MSWL, then remembered I had saved this post which has so much more insight, so thank you! :) Almost sent a direct query but thought this may be more helpful. Thanks for the chance!

S.P. Bowers said...

Love agent spotlights. I've learned a lot of things here and have found great agents to query.

Thanks for taking the time to do this Ms. Nelson!

wrekehavoc said...

What a lovely idea. Thanks for doing this! wrekehavoc AT Gmail Dot Com.

Alice Poon said...

Great interview Natalie! Thanks. And thanks to Ms. Nelson for sharing her thoughts about agenting and advice to aspiring authors. I've been following Ms. Nelson on Twitter for a while and have just queried her. I've shared this post on Twitter.

Hanna Loren said...

Excellent advice with lots of tips on querying. Now to win that critique ... hopefully!

K. said...

Very helpful interview, thanks so much! :)

Gifford MacShane said...

One thing that helped me after getting some rejection letters was to write a new query. Sometimes it's not the work, but the way it's presented that's the problem.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I love these Agent Interviews. I would love to win the query Critique Giveaway with Agent Patricia Nelson.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your spotlights. I look up this tag on your site when I'm ready to query.

Rebecca E. Bailey said...

This was a very helpful agent interview because of its comprehensiveness: an MFA degree in one interview! Thanks for entering me in the contest. Could I kindly ask you to enter me again? I tweeted about this contest from rebeccabailey11. Have a great day!

Robin said...

Ooh, I'm loving the current format for agent spotlights. Thanks for putting this together and helping your readers know Patricia Nelson better. I would like to be entered into the query critique contest. Thanks so much!

Angie Dickinson said...

I would love to be entered in the query critique contest, thanks!

Eric Steinberg said...

Thanks for the great spotlight as always. I'll definitely be submitting to Ms. Nelson when my WIP is ready. Thanks Ms. Nelson for donating the query critique. I'd welcome the opportunity for feedback on mine. (I tweeted:https://twitter.com/ericgsteinberg/status/709553090547032064)

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the informative interview! I'd love to be entered for a query critique.

Roberta Klarreich said...

Thanks for this interview! Ms. Nelson sounds like a lovely agent.

books and crackers said...

Thanks for the interview! Very informative. [dnsiegel@yahoo.com]

Unknown said...

Helpful advice and engaging interview. Thank you! Also tweeted via @justicegirls4u
Definitely interested in the query offer at crosman24 (yahoo)
Thank you!

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

Great interview. I've heard Save the Cat recommended several times; I may have to read it soon.


Unknown said...

Great interview, would love to be entered in the critique giveaway.

Unknown said...

Patricia is on my "Dream Agent List" A critique by her would be amazing!
Email is danni@danniellewicks.com

abnormalalien said...

Wow, how did I not find this blog sooner!? Most helpful thing I've seen so far today. I love the honesty in Patricia's answer to question 5: I have not noticed an overload of assassins and medieval themes in YA books but I am a little bored of the paranormal trend.

That's not to say that there's anything wrong with a good ghost/vampire/werewolf/telekinetic/etc story. I've just read a bit too much of that lately.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the spotlight! Would love to be entered into the query critique.

Unknown said...

Thank you for hosting this great giveaway! Please enter my name. I tweeted about the giveaway as well. I had another agent recommend Save the Cat to me--will definitely have to read soon :-).
caroline@carolineleewebster.com or cwebster@alumni.virginia.edu