July 2015
A Message from Kristin Nelson

An Anatomy of A Query Rejection

Kristin Nelson

This June, I taught a query workshop at Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Lit Fest. Afterward, one participant approached and asked me to read a response letter she had received (not from me). She wanted to know if it was a “standard” rejection letter. I read it aloud and was a little chagrined to discover just how similar it was to the letter I had been using for years. I told her that yes, this was not a personal letter but a standard rejection. Two days later, I was chastised by an aspiring writer who said it was time for us to change our standard rejection letter. Obviously that poor person had received our letter multiple times.

But I took the chastisement to heart. It was time for a change. So I’m going to share with you, my newsletter readers, our standard rejection letter and explain why I chose the verbiage I did.


KN: I actually do input the writer’s name. This business is so impersonal (some agents don’t even respond at all if they aren’t interested in a query), but I always want writers to be acknowledged as human beings. Even though it takes longer to respond to queries.

Thank you so much for thinking of me for your query. I wish I could offer a more personalized response but on average, I receive 500+ email query letters a week.

KN: This is true. In fact, I receive way more than 500 queries a week. Recently I’ve been averaging about 100 to 150 email query letters a day. Don’t let these stats daunt you. If you are serious about your career, you’ll persevere. Know the odds, but give them only the weight of a side note. I have signed many a client after finding them in our query inbox.

Do know that every query letter and sample page is read, and even though your project is not right for me, it might be right for another agent so don’t give up!

KN: This is true. I actually read a lot of my own queries on a daily basis. However, when I travel or have a crazy day, Angie, Jamie, and Karrie jump in to help out. They have to. After just two days, the inbox grows unwieldy. I also really do mean the last line. I’ve passed on any number of queries for projects that weren’t right for me but that other agents loved and went on to represent and even sell. I can only champion what I feel passionate about. Not everything will be a good fit for me. 

I’m also sorry I have no agent recommendations to offer.

KN: I had to include this. We were receiving so many reply emails asking for a recommendation that it was taking too long to respond to every query twice. We had to preemptively make it clear that we could offer no more information. 

Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.

KN: Absolutely. My rejection letter to your query is only one little bump on your journey to becoming a published author. 


Kristin Nelson

Pub Rants University

Royalty Statements Auditing Workshop

Thursday, July 30 at 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM MT

Chances are, your agent is not auditing your royalty statements. And chances are, accounting mistakes are being made. So if you’re not auditing your royalty statements, you could be missing out on significant income!

Class Limit: 20

Requirement: Although primarily intended as an intensive presentation, attendees wishing to speak during the Webinar must use a phone for audio to call in and actively participate.

What You’ll Learn:

In this Webinar, Nelson Literary Agency’s contracts and royalties manager, Angie Hodapp, will walk you through the basics of royalties reporting and teach you how to read and audit your own royalty statements. Using statements from several big and mid-sized publishers as examples, Angie will explain how various publishers express returns, reserves, royalty-rate escalators, subrights income, bonus income, and more, and illustrate how everything adds up to affect your bottom line.

Finally, Angie will walk you through how to set up an Excel spreadsheet you can use each reporting period to track cumulative units sold and total earnings for each book you’ve had published. This valuable tool will also help you track your payments and find accounting errors!


  • Attendees are welcome to ask questions during the presentation.
  • Attendees will have access to the recorded video of the presentation for six months.

Even if you are not yet published or receiving royalty statements, this Webinar will present valuable information about the inner workings of the publishing industry’s numbers game. Join us!

Alternate email address:
Phone number:

Register Now

eSpecial Price

$0.99 July 24 - August 3, 2015


NLA Digital Title Spotlight


Recent News

Jasinda Wilder's self-published ACX audio edition of ALPHA is a 2015 Audie Award Winner in the Erotica category.

Hugh Howey is a 2015 San Diego Comic Con Special Guest Author.

Josh Malerman's BIRD BOX is nominated for the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award!

Kristen Callihan's indie published THE FRIEND ZONE hits the USA Today Bestseller List!

Banner week! Gail Carriger's WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY has been nominated for the 2015 Locus Award for Young Adult and is the winner of the Steampunk Chronicle Reader's Choice Award.

New York Times bestselling author Hugh Howey’s WOOL trilogy. Sold in a bidding war, 20th Century Fox Studios purchased the rights to the series with Ridley Scott of Scott Free and Steve Zallian of Film Rites producing and Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) adapting.

As announced in The Hollywood Reporter, film Rights to New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES series, set up with Daria Cercek at 20th Century Fox Studios with Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, and Isaac Klausner of Temple Hill Productions (Twilight Saga, Fault In Our Stars) producing.

Marie Lu's THE YOUNG ELITES is a 2015 American Library Association Teens' Top Ten Nominee.

Hugh Howey's SILO (french translation of WOOL) wins the prestigious Canadian Prix Des Libraires du Quebec Award!

Jamie Ford awarded The Storyteller’s Prize,  for artists, scholars and activists who have shown a dedication to celebrating the multicultural and multiracial experience in fiction.

Marie Lu's EVERTREE, the anticipated conclusion to Scholastic's Spirit Animals middle grade series, hits the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller lists

Kristen Callihan's EVERNIGHT nominated for a 2015 RITA for Best Paranormal Romance.

Think Like an Agent by Kristin Nelson

Because Agents Are Human Too

Just as the title suggests, because agents are also human beings, they are going to embody both good and bad traits found in human nature. No one is perfect. And as some authors have discovered, some agents are more imperfect than others!

Your job as an author is to objectively recognize those human attributes or failings in your agent and decide whether they impact your career. Hopefully they don’t.

To this end, Karen Dionne of Backspace and I have put together a whole list of topics to tackle for “Because Agents Are Human Too.”

Topic 1: Because they are human, good agents keep their client lists small and manageable.

The trick is to define what is considered small and manageable. This question is asked at conferences all the time, and the truth is that the answer is going to vary widely depending on the agent and the agent’s situation.

Some things to keep in mind:

*Is the agent part of a larger organization/agency that supplies a lot of support staff in terms of auditing royalty statements, reviewing contracts, accounting, etc.? Or, if he or she is with a smaller, less corporate agency, how many non-agent personnel does the agency employ?

Many agencies employ a lot of agents but very few support staff. It’s typical in this industry that agents are one-man bands. They handle all the business elements listed above, and even if they’re associated with a larger agency, they still operate as the sole proprietors of their client lists. To be blunt, doing agenting well requires far more work than one person can handle in an eight- or ten-hour day—which means a lot of agents aren’t doing things like auditing royalty statements and thoroughly negotiating contracts.

More support staff = more clients an individual agent can manage successfully.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your agent has a lot of support in place, a larger client roster is not really a concern. If they don’t, then know that a larger client list is pretty difficult to manage, and more than likely, some business aspects are going to fall through the cracks.

Some possible red flags:

*Some agents operate on what we call the “shotgun” approach. They take on a bunch of clients, throw a lot of stuff out on submission, and see what sticks. These agents will have a lot of clients on their rosters.

*A high number of small- or no-advance deals could indicate that an agent is operating on the shotgun approach.

*Agents who are already established (five+ years as an agent) should have developed strong financial security with their current client roster. Be on the lookout for agents who suddenly take on a lot of clients all at once or during a short period of time. It could mean their current client list isn’t supporting their business.

*Be aware of agents who have high rate of client turnover, or who do a lot of one-time deals for authors but few subsequent deals.

For me, a small client list means fewer than 50 clients. My list is currently at 32.

Other agents may easily have a comfort level at 60 or 70 clients.

The real question here is, as an author, what is your comfort level regarding how many other clients your agent represents?

Kristin's Book Club

Summer Time Picks for your Reading List

The summer slow-down is upon us! Our reading lists aren’t the problem—finding a time to meet is! And I must admit, my rather relentless travel schedule this spring has played a large role in this.

Next up, as I’ve been previewing for the last two months, is a collection of essays called BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay. Not in the mood for nonfiction? Maybe add these titles to your reading pile:


THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir



STATION 11 by Emily St. John Mandel



GEORGE by Alex Gino

BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson

WONDER by R.J. Palacio

Guest Article

Missing Royalties: Do You Know Where Your Money Is?

Angie Hodapp

Angie Hodapp is the contracts and royalties manager at Nelson Literary Agency.


Every six months, you get an envelope from your agent. You tear it open, take out the enclosed check and royalty statement, and glance at the numbers on both. You shrug and mutter, “Guess that looks about right.” Then you toss the statement on your to-be-filed pile at the back of your closet, endorse the check, and head to the bank.

Sound familiar?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many published authors I’ve talked to at conferences who don’t give their royalty statements much of a glance. Why? Because they don’t know what they’re looking at. “Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not an accountant,” they say (or something along those lines). “Besides, isn’t that what I pay my agent to manage for me?”

News flash! Like you, many agents consider themselves word people—not numbers people—and your royalty statements are just as baffling to them as they are to you.

This means that the buck, quite literally, stops with you. Have a conversation with your agent about the level of support he or she is providing when it comes to combing through your statements and making sure you’re getting paid everything you’re owed.

More importantly, educate yourself. Learn how to audit your own statements.

Every year, we at Nelson Literary Agency recover thousands—sometimes tens of thousands—of unpaid dollars on behalf of our clients, simply because we audit their royalty statements.

Does this mean that publishers are nefarious, knowingly cheating authors out of a few bucks here and there to improve their own bottom lines? In our experience, no. (In fact, not all errors we find are made in the publisher’s favor!) Every error we’ve called to a publisher’s attention has immediately resulted in the issuing of a corrected statement and, when called for, a check covering the difference.

Without naming names, here are some examples of errors we’ve recently found on our clients’ royalty statements:

1. Unpaid royalties of approximately $5,000 because the publisher had applied a $10,000 advance against the author’s earnings when the actual contracted and paid advance had been only $5,000. This means the author had actually earned out—though the statement said otherwise—and was now owed nearly $5,000 in earned royalties.

2. Unpaid royalties of approximately $4,200 because the publisher’s accounting department missed the fact the author’s contract contained a royalties escalator. What’s that? A royalties escalator increases the author’s royalty rate in steps, based on units sold. For instance, a contract might specify that the author will earn 10% for the first 5,000 copies sold, 12.5% for the next 5,000 copies sold, and 15% for all copies sold thereafter. In this case, the author had sold about 12,500 copies of a hardcover edition priced at $16.99, but she had earned only 10% for all of those copies. Not one, but two escalators had been missed.

3. Unpaid royalties of approximately $7,300 because the publisher sold nearly 6,500 copies of a $17.99 hardcover edition at “high discount,” even though Agent Kristin had ensured that the author’s contract limited the number of copies the publisher was allowed to sell at high discount. What does that mean? When publishers sell copies of your book at higher-than-usual discounts, it’s common that the author’s contract will specify that she will earn “one-half the prevailing royalty rate” on those copies. Because Agent Kristin had limited the publisher’s high-discount sales, this author should have earned 12.5% on those particular 6,500 copies, but she earned only 6.25%, and we were able to recover the difference. (By the way, does your agent understand this and negotiate your contract’s high-discount clause in your favor?)

Dear Authors, the only way to protect your assets is to do the math. Join me July 30, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm, for my Royalty Statements Auditing Workshop, a live webinar sponsored by Nelson Literary Agency. Hope to see you then!

New Releases

Rebel Mechanics: All is Fair in Love and Revolution

by Shanna Swendson

It’s 1888, and seventeen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family–but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister–but it seems like the children’s young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause–but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

Buy It Here:


The Young Elites

by Marie Lu

Available in Trade Paperback in August 2015.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Buy It Here:


What’s New With

Many NLA Digital print on demand titles coming in hardcover

NLA Digital is expanding its print on demand Ingram/Lightning Source catalog in the coming months to produce hardcover editions of most of the titles available in our paperback catalog.

Two titles already through the hardcover transition process are Jasinda Wilder‘s Alpha and Beta. Conveniently, the hardcover editions are listed in the Ingram/Lightning Source catalog, but you can also find buy links on Amazon.com for the hardcover editions of Alpha and Beta.

Sherry Thomas‘s new contemporary romance title, The One in My Heart, is also available in hardcover.

Look for the bulk of the NLA Digital Ingram paperback catalog to be available in hardcover editions soon!

New Digital Releases


by Jasinda Wilder

Releasing August 4, 2015, the third installment of Jasinda Wilder’s hot contemporary romance Alpha Series, Omega.


This isn’t a fairy tale.

Not everyone will get a happily ever after.

Sometimes we can’t just walk away from the past.

Love doesn’t always save the day.

The beast won’t always get his beauty.

But maybe, just maybe, we can get our happy ending.

Omega is available at the retailers below, and through NLA Digital at All Romance, Google, Ingram, and library systems served by OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library.


Bluegrass Brothers Series in libraries

by Kathleen Brooks

Kathleen Brooks’ popular Bluegrass Brothers Series is now available through NLA Digital at Ingram and at libraries served by 3M Cloud Library and OverDrive.

Also look for Kathleen’s Women of Power Series in libraries.


The Davies boys are now the primary targets of every single woman in Keeneston… and a few criminals determined to make the small town their safe haven.

The first book in the Bluegrass Brothers series features Cade Davies, an ex-Army Ranger, teacher, and the new head coach of the high school football team in Keeneston. He barely has time to adjust to all of the changes in his life before he runs into the school’s fiery new guidance counselor and a new threat to the peaceful town of Keeneston…


Beyond Series novellas now available in libraries

by Kit Rocha

Now, the novellas from Kit Rocha’s hot Beyond dystopian/contemporary romance series join the novels from the series, and all are available through NLA Digital at Ingram and at libraries served by 3M Cloud Library and OverDrive.

Full Beyond Series list:
Beyond Shame
Beyond Control
Beyond Pain
Beyond Temptation (novella)
Beyond Jealousy
Beyond Solitude (novella)
Beyond Addiction
Beyond Possession (novella)
Beyond Innocence


In other news, NLA Digital will be helping bring all of Kit Rocha’s titles to Google Play in the very near future. Stay tuned!


Running from Love

by Maggie Marr

Maggie Marr’s Eligible Billionaires Series continues with Running from Love, available through NLA Digital at the retailers below, Ingram, and at libraries served by OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library.


Poppy Martin won’t stay in one place for long. Home is whatever country in which her passport was last stamped. Running from a history of privilege and abuse, she plans to spend her life traveling the globe, keeping her heart safe and never calling one place home.

Trevor Brice has exactly six more months of freedom. On his next birthday he must stop wandering the world. If he wants to work in the family business, which he doesn’t, Trevor must return to Los Angeles to take his place by his mother’s side. Otherwise, Trevor will be on his own, cut off, and no longer part of the Brice family fortune.

Poppy wants no part of love. She’s enjoyed her days (and nights) with Trevor but when he suggests a more permanent match, Poppy is off and running. Not the girl that would ever consider settling down, no matter her feelings for Trevor, Poppy is most definitely running from love.


Daring Brides

by Ava Miles

New from Ava Miles, Dare Valley brides walk down the aisle to their happily ever after with the men of their dreams. Daring Brides is available at the retailers below, and from NLA Digital at Ingram and library systems served by 3M Cloud Library and OverDrive.


From NORA ROBERTS LAND, Meredith Hale and her own hero, Tanner McBride, embark upon the journey into their new life, Marriage Land. See what makes Meredith’s wedding day so daring.

Jill Hale from FRENCH ROAST has wanted to marry Brian McConnell since she wore pig tails in grade school. Find out what makes Jill a daring bride besides her wish to rent a pink circus tent for the wedding reception.

Peggy McBride from THE GRAND OPENING never imagined getting married again, especially to hotel magnate and poker champion, Mac Maven. See what Mac gives her to make their wedding day daring.

Abbie Maven from THE HOLIDAY SERENADE resisted her love for bad-boy Rhett Butler Blaylock, not only because he’s a poker player, but also because that Southerner knows how to start a ruckus wherever he goes.This couple’s wedding is the most memorable one in Dare Valley for some time.



by Juliana Stone

Teague Simon is a man at a crossroads. He’s no good around people and spending time alone at the family cottage will hopefully ease his burden. What he doesn’t need is the woman next door poking around his business making things worse. And what he really doesn’t need are her two young children in his face. How can they help slay the demons that haunt him?

Sabrina Campbell is barely surviving and doing everything that she can to hide that fact. She takes care of her kids and keeps herself busy. She’s not looking for anything other than the chance to forget. But when Teague Simon shows up, looking as haunted as she is, she’s drawn to his pain. His loneliness. She knows his scars run deep, but so do hers. She should stay away and yet she can’t.

Can these two broken souls somehow heal each other?


Juliana’s fourth title in The Family Simon Series is available at the retailers below, and from NLA Digital at Google, Ingram, and at libraries served by OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library.


Island Home

by Liliana Hart

New from Liliana Hart…

Luke Mallory never believed in the magic of Seeker’s Spring. After all, it failed him once before.

But that doesn’t stop the girl he once loved from crashing back into his life and turning it upside down.

Will she be able to melt the ice around his heart or will he turn his back on a second chance at love?


Island Home is available at the retailers below, and from NLA Digital at Google, Ingram, and at libraries served by OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library.


Hope Out Loud

by Kristina Riggle

Five years after the summer of The Life You’ve Imagined, Anna Geneva’s mother is getting married. This means Anna must return to her hometown and the scene of her infamous affair with her teenage love Will Becker, who was married at the time, with a young daughter. Anna plans to avoid him, watch her mom get married, and hightail it back to her private law practice and her cozy apartment in Chicago.

But in a town as small as Haven, avoiding the elder son of a prominent family is harder than it seems, especially with so much shared history. And Maeve Geneva’s wedding? Well, the bride is starting to worry that maybe she’s not ready to marry again after all, though she swears her ex-husband’s affectionate postcards have nothing to do with that.

Anna thought she’d left her hometown behind for good five years ago, but she’s learning it takes more than two hundred miles along the Lake Michigan shore to put Haven truly behind her…


Kristina Riggle’s new novella is available through NLA Digital at the retailers below, Ingram, and at libraries served by OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library.

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