Melissa represents Romance (contemporary, category, historical, inspirational) Young Adult, Middle Grade, Women’s Fiction and Mystery.
She responds to all queries within two weeks, although if you query her during the holidays it may be a week longer. If you haven’t heard back from her in a month, you should resend your query. BUT, please follow their guidelines. If you send your query as an attachment it will not be opened and will not be responded to. Submission guidelines can be found at www.knightagency.net.
To connect with and learn more about Melissa . . .
Now for Melissa's insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!
What WOWs you in a query?
If I can actually get a sense of the author’s style in the few paragraphs of a query, I’m usually wowed. It’s in the way they tackle the synopsis, word choices, rhythm to their prose. If I think the writing is compelling for just a synopsis, which can be terribly dull, then I’m all in.
What should writers NOT do in a query?
I have a few pet peeves for queries. When a writer starts out with a series of questions. When a query is written in the main character’s voice. When the writer ends the query with “if you want to know how the story ends, you’ll need to ask for the full manuscript.” My advice is to not play coy with this document. Come across as a professional and you’ll intrigue me more.
Do you ever offer a Revise & Resubmit? When would you do so?
I have offered R&R’s in the past but only when I really think the project has strong potential. I almost always offer representation when I’ve read a project from beginning to end except when I feel the project is maybe only 75% ready. In cases when I think it needs significant revisions, I need to know that 1: the author is on board with my vision for the story and is willing to tackle the revisions and 2: is able to revise the manuscript. When I’m looking at a project, I don’t know how long it’s taken the writer to complete the work so I also have no idea how long they’d take to revise it. Some writers are great at revisions, others can’t or don’t want to make the changes so the R&R gives me the opportunity to see how well we’d work together.
What is it like waiting to hear back from a writer you’ve offered representation?
I am just as nervous about hearing back from a writer as I’m sure they are waiting to hear back from agents. I don’t offer representation lightly; I’m always in love with the project. And when I have a great conversation with the writer and we seem to really hit it off, I end the phone call happy but nervous. I’ve been turned down plenty of times, even when I was certain we were the perfect match…sure the writer loved me…positive I was their first choice. I’m always on edge until I get that call or email that the writer has accepted my offer.
Once a writer has signed with you, what’s the next step?
In almost all cases, the manuscript still needs work so we will do a final round of revisions. While the author is working on that, I’m putting together a list of editors I’ll be submitting to. The author and I discuss my list as I want the client to have a sense of where I’m submitting as they may have a relationship with an editor already. I put a pitch together and submit the work to those interested. I keep the client updated as responses come in. If we get an offer than we move on to contract terms. If that work doesn’t find a home, we move on to the next project. I sign a client on for a career, not just for a project.
How do you get to know editors and what they’re looking for?
I’m often asked how I connect with editors since I’m not located in NYC and able to meet with them in person. Well, these days so much more information is available through social media. I follow many editors on Twitter and keep up with their wish lists. I see what they’re buying from deals on Publishers Marketplace. The Knight Agency invites various editors to our weekly email meetings to learn what they are looking for. And my colleagues and I share information about what editors are seeking. I have great resources.
Do you forward editor feedback to writers?
Before we go out on submission with a project, I ask my client if they want their updates to include the editor’s response. Some authors just want to know if it was a pass but the majority want to see the editor’s notes. Most of the time the feedback will be helpful going forward so I do think it’s a good thing for the clients to review.
What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?
I always want my clients to be working on their next project when their current project is out on submission. We hope, but don’t know, if a project will find a home so one always wants to be thinking of what is next. Plus, it’s a nerve wracking experience, so keeping occupied with something new can help a great deal.
Once a writer has sold his/her first book, how is the next submission process different?
Usually the contract will have an option clause so the next project that meets the option criteria is submitted to their current publisher. And ideally we continue with that publisher, as long as the process has been satisfactory to this point. However, the author may have a new project that’s in a different genre and so we would be submitting it out to a new set of editors. The process would be the same as the first time we submitted their sold project, only this time we can mention the author is published/under contract. That usually means some faster turnaround times.
Thanks so much, Melissa!
Posted May 2015– Always check for current info and guidelines.