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Meet Agent Patricia Nelson

Patricia Nelson
Patricia Nelson

Patricia Nelson has always loved literature and writing. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary then went on to get a Master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and another Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California. Before joining the world of publishing and the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in 2014, she spent four years teaching literature and writing at the university level.

Patricia Nelson has been a literary agent with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency since 2014. She represents women’s fiction, historical and contemporary romance, and select literary fiction, as well as all genres of young adult and middle grade fiction. Recent sales include books placed with St. Martin’s Press, Simon and Schuster, and Penguin Random House, among others.

She is actively building her list and in adult fiction she’s looking for sexy, smart adult contemporary and historical single title romance. She is interested in seeing diverse stories and characters, including LGBTQ, in all genres that she represents.


Please welcome Patricia Nelson to the blog. Now let’s get to know her.
Top three favorite romantic movies?

  1. Love & Basketball
  2. Sweet Home Alabama
  3. When Harry Met Sally

Tips for successful pitching (in 3 sentences or less)?

Be prepared, but try not to just read a query off a sheet of paper if you can help it. The advantage of the in-person pitch is the chance to make a personal connection — expect the pitch to be a conversation.

Weirdest pitch experience?

I’ve had several people start a pitch with “you rejected my query last week/month.” Eek! Where do we go from there? If you know you’re pitching an agent at a conference, best to wait to send an email query until after the meeting.

Favorite thing about attending conferences?

I love meeting writers! There’s always so much positive energy buzzing at writing conferences that I come home eager to dig into submissions and sign up new projects.

Tips for successful query?

Be concise, be professional, make sure you focus on the story and lay out character/conflict/stakes. I also tend to like it when the querier includes a couple well-chosen comparable titles or authors — it shows me that they know the market and read in their genre.

What’s hot in your world right now? 

I’m always looking for contemporary and historical single-title romance with a premise or “hook” that feels fresh. But ultimately, it’s all about the characters and the chemistry for me: I’m drawn to smart, witty, sexy novels with heroes and heroines I can fall in love with.

Pet peeves?

The term “fiction novel” drives me irrationally crazy. The word novel implies fiction — to say both is redundant! (This pet peeve is probably left over from my days as an English teacher, if I had to guess.)

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love HGTV (currently binging FIXER UPPER, I’ll admit it) and have a soft spot for TOP CHEF and THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW, too.

What’s the best advice you ever got?

“Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.” Often in this business everything happens slower than you wish it would, but that doesn’t mean you’re not moving closer to your goal. It’s always best to take a long view rather than focus on immediate successes and failures.


To learn more about what Patricia looks for, here are some of her recent sales:

A few of Patricia’s recent sales include Kristi Wientge’s middle grade debut KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE (Simon & Schuster Children’s); Mary McCoy’s YA mystery CAMP SO-AND-SO (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner); Jaime Questell’s YA contemporary fantasy BY A CHARM AND A CURSE (Entangled Teen); Susan Bishop Crispell’s magical realist women’s fiction THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press); Loretta Nyhan’s quirky contemporary women’s fiction ALL THE GOOD PARTS (Lake Union Publishing); Kelly J. Ford’s literary suspense COTTONMOUTHS (Skyhorse); and KC Bateman’s historical romance TO STEAL A HEART (Loveswept/Random House).

You can follow her on Twitter at @patricianels

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