Saturday, May 6, 2017

Agentopia: Patricia Nelson

Welcome to the May edition of Agentopia! This month we have Patricia Nelson from Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in the spotlight.

About Patricia:

Patricia Nelson joined Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in 2014. She represents adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction, and is actively building her list.
In general, Patricia looks for stories that hook her with a unique plot, fantastic writing and complex characters that jump off the page. On the adult side, she is seeking women’s fiction both upmarket and commercial, historical fiction set in the 20th century, and compelling plot-driven literary fiction. She’s also looking for sexy, smart adult contemporary and historical single title romance. On the children’s side, Patricia is open to a wide range of genres of YA and MG, with particular interest in contemporary/realistic, magical realism, mystery, science fiction and fantasy. She is interested in seeing diverse stories and characters, including LGBTQ, in all genres that she represents.

What is currently on your wish list?

Diverse books and #ownvoices stories is my #1 wish list item -- like many others who work in the publishing industry, I think it's SO important to expand the voices and stories we're hearing in kidlit. Beyond that, I would love to find a haunting YA contemporary fantasy with gorgeous, literary writing. I'm always looking for page-turning YA fantasy or sci-fi with a compelling heroine and a premise and setting that feels truly unique. I also like YA contemporary, but generally tend toward the upper-YA or more literary side with a very strong sense of place and characters who are complicated (and might even be a bit tough to love) -- I often use AMERICAN GIRLS by Allison Umminger, in which a teen girl spends the summer in LA with her sister and becomes fascinated by the Manson murders, as an example of the kind of contemporary YA I tend to fall for. And I'd love to take on a contemporary YA with a teen girl protagonist who reminds me of the amazing young women who write for ROOKIE and TEEN VOGUE: smart, socially and politically engaged, explicitly feminist, fighting to resist and to build a better world. I think a lot of teens are more interested in social justice than adults give them credit for, especially now, and it would be great to see that trait in more YA characters.

What's a personal turn-off in a query which is guaranteed to get the author rejected?

It drives me crazy when the querier frames themselves as the savior of YA! You'd be surprised how often people say things like: "Unlike all the vampires and dystopias being published in YA now, my book has substance." Not only is this an inaccurate characterization of the publishing landscape, it's patronizing and dismissive of all the other brilliant writers out there working in this genre -- and it makes me think you won't be a positive member of the writing/publishing community, which is not a great sign for career longevity. When a query starts with a comment like this, I'm almost definitely going to send a pass.

Do you google authors and if yes, what are you looking for?

I only look up authors after I've read the query and pages and I'm interested, but if I like the writing, yes, I do turn to google. Mostly, I want to see that you've at least dipped your toe into being a person on the internet, because that will be a necessity once you have a book to promote. For me, I hope to find that a querying writer has at least one of: a twitter account, an instagram account, a tumblr, or at least a simple website with an "about me". It doesn't matter to me how many followers you have, though!

If you're on social media, I do tend to scroll back and look at posts to get a sense of your personality and whether I think we'd get along. It's not make-or-break, but I do view it positively when I see that authors are posting about what they're reading and/or the writing process, and when they're engaging with other writers online, which tends to be a good sign that you're engaged in your genre and starting to build a community. The big red flag is trash-talking the industry or the querying process, or a general tone of persistent negativity.

To submit to Patricia,  send a query letter with the first ten pages of the manuscript with the word QUERY in the email’s subject line to:
Further submission guidelines can be found here.
Follow Patricia on Twitter at @patricianels

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