She is looking for YA and MG of all kinds and a wide range of adult Non-Fiction (narrative, memoir, business, health & wellness, cookbooks and food writing). You can learn more about Melissa's tastes and guidelines here and follow her on Twitter @mjsarver. Her answers are below in bold.
- When writers query me, I really wish they didn’t assume I want to read their work and instead write something dynamic that makes me stop everything and want to dive in. Also, be professional! This is a business – we are not friends. And please follow my submission guidelines and do a bit of research to make sure I represent the genre you are writing.
- My favorite part about being an agent is sharing good news with authors, whether it be an offer for their project, a great review, that they’ve landed on a bestseller list, anything! This business tends to kick people around so I relish the times I can deliver happy news.
- Rules and trends aside, what I really look for in a story is unique voice that I haven’t heard before, interesting setting, clever conceit, well-formed relationships, tightly paced story with payoff. I really hate when I get into a story with good writing and characters but feel like it’s not really going anywhere. I’m left with that “so what?” feeling.
- Whenever I make a book deal, I ... I don’t have a ritual to celebrate each book deal – some are big and some are small. But closing a deal is always very gratifying.
- I really wish I saw more tightly paced stories, high concept YA, literary MG, mysteries in YA and MG in the slush.
- My ideal client would be someone who is always open to revision. That, in my opinion, is the difference between getting a book deal and not. And someone who trusts that I am always looking out for his/her best interest.
- What I love most about my current clientele is I’ve been working with many of my authors for many years and it’s exciting to see them grow and change as writers and expand their audiences with each book.
- What I want most for any client is well, beyond their book getting the attention it deserves and finding an audience, I want them to be able to build a career as a writer. That won’t mean for most of them to be able to live solely off of their book money; but to be able to write and continue to see their books published and their audience grow over time, that’s the goal.
Melissa On Life
- If I weren't an agent, I'd probably be ... if you asked my 25-year-old self, I would probably say journalist! But now I enjoy working with and representing journalists much more than the idea of being one. I’d probably do something like college admissions if I weren’t an agent.
- My favorite (non-client) book is a recent pick would be SALVAGE THE BONES; so raw and beautiful. It wrecked me in the best of ways and stayed with me long after I finished reading. All time favorites include A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN and THE HANDMAID’S TALE.
- Secretly, I'm terrified of drowning. I can swim and I enjoy water, but the idea of drowning is terrifying.
- My secret boyfriend is a tie between Idris Elba and U2’s The Edge.
- I have a total girlcrush on Ruth Wilson (have you seen The Affair? Love, love it, and her…)
- Sometimes, when no one is around, I do dance routines to music like I would have done when I was younger. They aren’t pretty but I just can’t help myself after 20+ years of dance classes.
- My favorite drink is beer. Usually a Hefeweizen.
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