#SEACritterspub Agent Interview: Quressa Robinson of the Nelson Literary Agency
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SEPTEMBER, 2018
Welcome to the #SEACritterspub interviews, where we spotlight agents and editors looking for Asian literature and / or Asian authors! This week it’s Quressa Robinson from the Nelson Literary Agency!

Quressa Robinson

Agency: Nelson Literary Agency

Quressa represents: Fiction: Commercial, Family Saga, Fantasy, General, Historical, Humor, LGBTQ, Literary, Romance, Science Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Young Adult Non-Fiction: Humor, Memoir, Pop Culture, Science

Favorite sub-genres: Commercial Women’s Fiction, Commercial YA, Contemporary Fantasy, Contemporary YA, Diversity, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Romance, Fashion, High Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Humor, Low Fantasy, Magical Realism, Multicultural, Speculative Fiction, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Urban Fantasy, YA fantasy/light sci-fi, dark fantasy, narrative non-fiction, upmarket genre fiction 

MSWL

What is #SEACritterspub? 

This is an initiative started by Hanna Alkaf, Gail Villanueva, and I (all currently living in Southeast Asia) to help Asian authors (both diaspora and living outside of the US) learn more about querying and finding agents in the US! Aside from showcasing agents actively seeking Asian rep, we also post tips, advice, and occasionally offer query / 1st page critiques!

Before proceeding: please familiarize yourself with what a query is and how it works, general etiquette that authors need to know before finding an agent, and other helpful guidelines. Check out the #SeaCritterspub category on this blog (also located on the right side of this interview!) for more details!

Now, onwards to the interview!

1. Is there any information about yourself that you think people might like to know (literary agent experience, hobbies, etc.)?

I am a huge nerd. I love anime, video games, comics. I am pretty obsessed with Sailor Moon. I’ve been an agent for a year, and before that I was an acquiring editor for five years. I have an MFA in Creative Writing and am a pretty solidly editorial agent.

2. Are there any specific Asian MS preferences you’re looking for (e.g., contemporary K-drama, Chinese martial arts fantasy, etc.) ?

I am fairly open to both contemporary, historical, and SFF stories in upper MG, YA, and adult. I did grow up in San Francisco which has strong Filipino, Chinese, and Japanese immigrant histories—two of my best friends who I met in high school are filipino—so stories from those cultures would likely resonate with me the most. But I just want great writing and awesome concepts, so I will consider whatever is sent my way.

3. What other things do you look for in a manuscript?

  • 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.

4. What are your submission guidelines?

  • Make sure NLA represents your genre. 
  • You may query only one agent at the agency. Our first-round readers and agents share and discuss query letters, so a response from one NLA agent is a response from all NLA agents.
  • Open a new email and address it to the appropriate agent. (See below.)
  • In the subject line, write QUERY and the title of your project. This will help ensure that your query isn’t accidentally deleted or caught in our spam filter.
  • In the body of your email, include a one-page query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript.
  • No attachments please. Because of virus concerns, emails with attachments are deleted unread.
  • If you’re querying because you saw this interview, feel free to mention it in your query.
To view the full list of agents currently seeking Asian lit / rep, go to this Google doc!

Are you an agent or an editor who’d like to participate in these interviews? Drop me an email at rin.chupeco[at]gmail[dot]com!