Thursday, November 22, 2018

Four agents at Nelson Literary seek Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult authors

Wildcard by Marie Lu,
represented by Nelson Literary 
Nelson Literary Agency
1732 Wazee St
# 207
Denver, CO 80202

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Kristin Nelson launched Nelson Literary Agency in August 2002. It remains a smallish agency, with just four agents – all looking for authors. “My goal as an agent is simple,” says Kristen. “I want every client of mine to make a living solely from writing and 90% of my authors do without help from any other source of income. I established Nelson Literary Agency, LLC, in 2002 and over the last decade+ of my career, I’ve represented over forty New York Times bestselling titles and many USA Today bestsellers.”

Kristin is seeking:

  • Voice and character driven stories well told. How you tell that story doesn’t have to fit into a neat little category.
  • Young adult & middle grade novels (all genres, #ownvoices, #WNDB, boy adventure, magical, STEM girls are my jam, characters who use brains over brawn.)
  • Big crossover novels (literary or upmarket level writing) w/one foot squarely in genre for the adult market (Wool, Station 11, Lexicon, Ready Player One)
  • Literary commercial novels (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet, Where’d You Go Bernadette?, A Man Called Ove) 
  • Voice & character-driven upmarket women’s fiction
  • Select passion projects in thrillers, science fiction & fantasy

Query Kristin at:

In the subject line, write QUERY and the title of your project. In the body of your email, include a one-page query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript. No attachments. 

NB: Nelson Literary will be closed to queries Dec 1, 2018, through Jan 1, 2019.

Danielle Burby double-majored in creative writing and women’s studies at Hamilton College (both “impractical majors” that have been incredibly practical for her) and figured out that creative writing classes do a really great job of honing your editing and critiquing skills. After internships at several top literary agencies and publishers, she spent four years at New York agency and began building a client list before moving to Nelson  in January 2017. 

 Danielle is seeking:

  • Middle grade and young adult (all genres)
  • Select passion projects in women’s fiction
  • A strong voice, nuanced writing, plots with unexpected twists, high concept
  • Complex female characters, quirky adventures, complicated family dynamics, romantic plotlines that are an element of the narrative but don’t dominate it, seaside novels, girls with swords, stories that take place in the aftermath of disaster (whether personal such as the death of a loved one or bigger picture such as a revolution), magical realism, YA psychological thrillers, sister stories
  • Social justice themes, own voices authors, a special interest in LGBTQ+ stories
  • Recent reads I have loved include (in no particular order) The Thing About Jellyfish, It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, We Are Okay, Landline, The Sun Is Also a Star, Uprooted, Salt to the Sea, We Were Liars, A Spool of Blue Thread, When Dimple Met Rishi, Six of Crows, anything Liane Moriarty, anything Kristin Cashore, anything Sarah Dessen

Query Danielle at:

In the subject line, write QUERY and the title of your project. In the body of your email, include a one-page query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript. No attachments.


Joanna MacKenzie got her start in publishing at a Chicago-based literary agency and while there, she successfully placed numerous manuscripts that have gone on to become critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling novels.  She loves working with authors who embrace the full publishing process (read: love revisions) and am committed to the stories my clients want to tell both with the words they put on paper, as well as with the careers they build.

As a Chicago-based agent, she’s excited to join the Nelson Literary Agency team and to expand her list in both adult and YA. She’s looking for the epic read that, at its center, beats with a universal heart.  In particular, she’s drawn to smart and timely women’s fiction, as well as absorbing, character-driven mysteries and thrillers – both, ideally, with a little edge.  She has a weird obsession with, what she calls, “child in jeopardy lit” and can’t get enough kick-ass mom heroines.  On the YA side, she’s interested in coming of age stories that possess a confident voice and characters she can’t stop thinking about.

Originally from Poland, and by way of Canada, she’s all about narratives that deal with the themes of identity and the immigrant experience as well as those that delve into all aspects of the relationships that make us who we are – parents, siblings, best friends, and first love.

Joanna is seeking:

  • Character-driven and atmospheric mysteries and thrillers—think Tana French, Blake Crouch, and Heather Gudenkauf.
  • Literary fiction—fish-out-of-water experiences, immigrant stories, complex families. I cried my way through The Namesake and couldn’t put down The Round House.
  • Upmarket women’s fiction featuring characters I can’t stop thinking about.
  • Literary and commercial young-adult fiction—I’ll Give You The Sun and Bone Gap and anything that reminds me of Veronica Mars.

Query Joanna at:

In the subject line, write QUERY and the title of your project. In the body of your email, include a one-page query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript. No attachments.


Quressa Robinson is eager to build her middle grade, young adult and adult lists. She has eclectic tastes and represents a wide range of genres. She is most drawn to literary voices in commercial packages, wonderfully realized characters, untold stories from underrepresented communities, immersive world building, and complex narrative approaches and plots. Also, she’s most drawn to character-driven stories and love strong voice as well. She’s a huge romantic and doesn’t mind romance subplots outside of the romance genre.

If you have a story featuring fairies or warrior princesses with afros and rainbow dreads or envision winter elves inspired by an Asian or Latinx culture – then you’re definitely a match for Quressa

Specifically, Quressa is seeking:

  • Modern-day blue stockings, POC fangirls/fanboys, #blackgirlmagic, #carefreeblackgirls, #blackboyjoy, LGBTQ+, neuroatypical/neurodivergent, and disabled POCs as leads
  • Middle Grade (contemporary and SF/F). Cute, quirky, charming, and fun. Along the lines of Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away.
  • Young adult (contemporary, SF/F, historical)
  • Adult SF/F with strong genre-bending/crossover appeal. (Think the All Souls Trilogyby Deborah Harkness, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I’m also a fan of Anne Bishop and Naomi Novik.)
  • Literary fiction that is thoughtful, evocative, page-turning (The MothersBehold the DreamersTell The Wolves I’m HomeStation 11)
  • Upmarket and commercial fiction
  • Passion projects in narrative nonfiction with a strong literary voice and commercial appeal (Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, Black Man in a White Coat by Damon Tweedy, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi). Would love to see non-whitewashed cowboy stories; pop science by women, specifically women of color; and literary, voice-driven memoir with commercial appeal.
  • #ownvoices and marginalized authors in all genres mentioned above. Inclusive narratives in all genres.

Query Quressa at:

In the subject line, write QUERY and the title of your project. In the body of your email, include a one-page query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript. No attachments.


Full submission guidelines here.

NB: Nelson Literary will be closed to queries Dec 1, 2018, through Jan 1, 2019.


Author Sylvia McNicoll will be one of the
guest speakers for the Kid Lit course
If you’re interested in writing for children or for young adults, Brian will lead a Writing Kid Lit weekly course on Thursday evenings, Jan 24 – March 28, at the Oakville Central Library (see here). 
For updated listings of Writing for Children & for Young adult workshops and for weekly Kid lit classes, see here (and scroll down). 

Also coming soon: How to Build Your Story: Plotting novels & Writing short stories, Saturday, Nov 24 in Alliston (see here) and Saturday, Jan 19 in Oakville (see here) and Secrets of Writing a Page-Turner, Saturday, Dec 1 in London (see here), and Saturday, Dec 8, in Guelph (see here).

 A weekend writing retreat:
Algonquin Writing Retreat, Friday, May 31 – Monday, June 3, 2019: four days in the luxurious isolation of Arowhon Pines Resort to get down to some real creative growth. Sign up soon to get the 2017 rates! Details here.

Winter courses (Details of all 5 classes here):
Exploring Creative Writing, Thursday afternoons, Jan 24 – April 5 (no class March 14), in Burlington. Details here.
Writing Kid Lit, Thursday evenings, Jan 24 – March 28 (no class March 14), in Oakville. Details here.
Intensive Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, Jan 22 – April 2 (no class March 12); first readings emailed Jan 15, in Burlington. Details here.
Intensive Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings Jan 23 – April 3 (no class March 13); first readings emailed Jan 16, in Burlington. Details here.
Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings Jan 25 – April 5 / 12 (10 or 11 weeks, no class March 13); first readings emailed Jan 16, in Toronto. Details here.
            Details of all 5 classes here.

Read reviews of Brian’s courses, retreats, and workshops here.

 See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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