Category Archives: Slush Pile Recaps

July Slush Pile Recap


Where did July go? Here it is, time for another shutterstock_140377015slush pile snap shot! But this time, instead of just telling you what types of projects we requested, I’ll also say why they didn’t quite work out in spite of a promising query letter.

Partial manuscripts (30 pages) read: 63

Full manuscripts requested: 6

A few trends that stood out:

  • Romance (historical and contemporary). On the heels of the RWA Conference in Atlanta, high-quality submissions came pouring in! The problem? Many just didn’t stand out despite a strong query. “Haven’t we seen this before?” A little too formulaic, a little too predictable.
  • Well-written dystopians. But in spite of the great writing, they were just too HUNGER GAMES. We still request this genre but the truth is that, no matter how strong the writing, it’s getting really tough to stand out from the crowd.
  • Contemporary YA with teens facing big, complex issues. What didn’t work? Unlikeable main characters—they were morose, cynical, or just bland. Hard to spend an entire novel with someone like that! Characters need room to grow and transform—but we have to want to root for them even from the beginning.

So what did work from this month’s slush pile? I can’t give too many hints at this stage, but let’s just say we finally found that stand-out middle grade novel we’ve been begging for. Still, keep them coming! Agents are always on the hunt for this elusive beast.

June Slush Pile Recap


I thought it might be fun to start offering a monthly snapshot of the Nelson Literary Agency slush pile. So, based on the queries we received, here’s a list of the topics and sub genres that really caught our eye and resulted in a sample page (partial manuscript) request in the month of June. To give you an idea of what’s hot on the market, I’ll mainly share things that are not based on the particular tastes of our agents but that are being widely sought by other agents as well.



Partial manuscripts (30 pages) read:  69

Full manuscripts requested:  5 

Hot Topics:

  • Contemporary YA stories with a LGBT component (examples we saw: teen coming out in a conservative small town, girl with two dads—one has been accused of a serious crime)
  • Middle Grade boy stories (fantasy or contemporary)—editors are still clamoring for these so agents are on the hunt
  • New Adult with a pithy story (one example was a realistic and darkly humorous portrayal of a young man battling cancer)
  • Contemporary romances with a sassy voice