Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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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 Quressa Robinson here. She is a literary agent at Nelson Literary Agency.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey. 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.

Update on 1/14/2022: Quressa is now at Folio Literary Management. Check their website for her submisson guidelines.

Hi­ Quressa! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Quressa:

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

I became an agent in 2017. I started off on the editing side of publishing where I spent my first five years in the industry. I made several acquisitions and honed my editorial skills, but the agent bug came a’calling. Since the switch I’ve been building my list, working with my clients on their manuscripts to prepare them for submission, and getting out to several conferences.

About the Agency:

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

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. But two of our agents--one of which is myself--are based in New York City. We also have and agent based in Chicago.

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.

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?

I represent YA and MG only on the children’s side of things. I also represent adult books. In YA and MG I cover SFF, Contemporary, and Historical. I tend to lean toward character-driven stories with a strong voice. I love WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, MERCIFUL CROW, HER ROYAL HIGHNESS,
THE GRACE YEAR, HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROW, THE CRUEL PRINCE series, and TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE. I really am most interested in stories that play with tropes and unique, interesting perspectives that aren’t often seen. I’m particularly interested in #OwnVoices and marginalized authors.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

People can check out my #MSWL. But I loooooove witches. Someone give me a witch book a la The Craft/Charmed/Practical Magic. Huge plus if you through in voodoo or other non-western cultural touch points. I want to see more ladies in space and more morally ambiguous female protagonists. I love revenge and murder and fantasy that plays with tropes. You can send a retelling my way, but I’ll want to see it lean dark. Reimaging of folk stories from non-western cultures would be especially amazing.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

This can be a tough one. I don’t want books about US slavery or the Civil Rights Movement. I’m just ready to see books about the black experience that goes beyond those well-known and well-written about historical moments.

I’m not looking for mysteries/suspense/thrillers. Just not my jam. I’m looking for select non-fiction, but only if you have a robust platform. If you don’t know what platform is, then you aren’t ready to query me. And, to be honest, I tend to seek out the non-fiction projects I’m interested in pursuing.

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?

I am super ambitious and very, very persistent. I look for those same qualities in my clients. You don’t have to be as ambitious as I am, but I definitely want to work with authors who are in it for the long hall. I also think it’s important to believe in each other. It’s a partnership. I’m putting my faith in them and their putting their faith in me. I’m also a hard worker and am looking for clients who aren’t afraid to push up their sleeves and dig deep to get their work to the next level.

Publishing is also an industry that can be full of rejection. Despite being told “no” over and over again I keep at it. So I’m really looking for clients who don’t know how to give up and have a strong work ethic.

I’m also deeply passionate so that is what I look for in a MS—a book that makes me feel something strongly and deeply. If you get me invested then I am that much more motivated to invest in your work.

I also look for authors who are prolific. Having a well of ideas is essential to have a long career in publishing. When I am considering rep I always ask about projects the author has in the back burner. It’s very common that the book you query to get your agent is typically not the book your agent sells to a publisher. Being prepared to roll with the punches and move onto the next idea is essential.

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?

I am absolutely an editorial agent. In the truest sense of the word. This is, afterall, where I started my career in publishing. I love to take a hands on approach with a client’s MS. I tend to do a very thorough first pass developmental edit. This means comments in the margin to address macro and micro issues. I always include a more detailed editorial letter and the option to chat more about next steps via the phone or video chat. If there needs to be another pass we’ll do it.

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?

What I’m looking for and submission guidelines are thoroughly spelled out on the NLA website so I’d suggest authors check that out. In terms of query letter, I love brief and to the point. Get some good comps in there—comps don’t need to be literal. I just need to know who think you’re book will appeal to. Great for fans of X and Y. Or who you think your author peers are—my story is similar to the dark characters in X and the political intrigue of Y.

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

Spelling my name wrong. Not including comparable titles. I know it’s hard, but this helps so much, and you definitely should be reading in your genre, so while it might feel like a chore it shouldn’t be impossible. I think many authors think too literally about comps.

Response Time:

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

NLA’s policy is to get through queries in three weeks and full manuscripts within two months. Obviously, turnaround can be a smidge longer depending on what might be on our individual plates, but we try to be timely.

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, but with caveats for both. Definitely only query with new material. I can’t consider something that has already been published. For authors who have published with a smaller press things can be a bit trickier. Because I have worked for a publisher I know the Big Five pay attention to an author’s track record on Book Scan, so that’s something I have to take into consideration.

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?

Anybody who works in publishing should be adaptable. We shouldn’t be afraid of innovation, but in the grant scheme of things agents will always be an author’s best advocate and will have the ability to advise them on long term career goals and expectations.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent YA, MG in multiple genres and adult SFF authors. My best known projects are Instant New York Times Bestseller A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, the critically acclaimed SLAY by Brittney Morris, and Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes. (Book two in the series, Prime Deceptions, is out this fall.) I have many other clients with projects in the pipeline that I can't announce yet and others working on revisions for projects that will go out on submission soon. You can follow them all on Twitter.

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.

Here is our submission guidelines page: http://nelsonagency.com/submission-guidelines/
Make sure to read the guidelines before you query. You can query me at queryquressa@nelsonagency.com.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Quressa.

­Quressa 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 November 11th.  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: 5/25/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/11/2020.

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. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If writers are willing to give up, then they aren't cut out for this business anyway.
No one likes his name spelled wrong.
Witches and voodoo - if anyone has that, now is the time!

Greg Pattridge said...

Thanks for the informative interview. It sounds like Quressa gives her clients 100%. It would seem persistence is a necessary quality to survive in this field both as an author or agent.

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interview. Persistence is key for every writer.

Misha Gerrick said...

Awesome interview. All the best to Quressa. :-)

Karen Lange said...

It's nice to meet Quressa. So many facets to this business - appreciate hearing the ins and outs from others who have this experience.

Thanks for the interview, Natalie. I'll skip the giveaway this time. Enjoy your week!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for the great interview, Quressa and Natalie! I really appreciate the part where Quressa speaks about the well of ideas. I've always wondered about mentioning that since I have story idea lists and partials that go beyond my current project.

Jemi Fraser said...

Quressa sounds like a great addition to a fabulous agency! :)

Melissa Work said...

Great interview! Liked her point about comp titles. Would love to know more about the "taking comps too literally" aspect.

Suzanne Warr said...

Excellent interview, Natalie! And bravo on joining Nelson Agency, Quressa! When I first began a serious start on novel writing, Nelson Agency was the guiding star that lit my path. :)

I have to pass on the query critique, but best of luck to whomever wins!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Interesting interview. Thank you, Quressa, for sharing your information with us. I don't have anything ready to query. Slow me.

Anonymous said...

Informative interview, especially the 'how to' on the comps titles. Tweeted this for others. Thank you. I'm at alvaradofrazier at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

This was a fantastic interview, and I'd love to enter this contest. Quressa sounds like an amazing agent. I retweeted the info on Twitter. @BrowerJustin, jbrower@outlook.com

Athena Freya G said...

That was lovely interview! Thanks for the insight and giveaway!

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing the insight!

Rosi said...

Very interesting interview as usual. I always learn things when you run these. Thanks for doing them. I sure could use help with my query!

Unknown said...

Great interview! Would love the chance at a query critique :D

Raimey Gallant said...

I visited D.C. with my mom last month, and across the street from The Ford Theatre in the interpretation centre, there was a multi-story sculpture representing all the books written about Lincoln. It was cool as far as literary art, but I'm pretty sure there are other topics. :)

tikichikadee said...

Like a steel sliver in the eye, so must an author bear the unblinking agony of the query. See how hilarious we dumb authors can be? It would be an honor to be rejected...er...critiqued by Quressa (yes I did scroll back to the top to be sure it was spelled correctly).

Chelly Writes said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing. :D

Cynthia K said...

Appreciated your candor and helpful comments, and your generous offer of a query critique.

Whitney Blair Wyckoff said...

Helpful Q&A! I think Quressa's note about the importance of including comp titles in a query is interesting. Good to keep in mind!

Kylie said...

Thanks for this information! The importance of comp titles is especially interesting.

Unknown said...

This agent sounds amazing! Can't wait to read some of the books she reps.