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Sep 8, 2020

Agent Spotlight Series: Melissa Edwards

Melissa Edwards Agent Spotlight image
A warm welcome to literary agent Melissa Edwards! Melissa joined Stonesong as a literary agent in August 2016. Previously, she was a literary agent at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency, where she managed the foreign rights for a forty-year backlist. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School, Melissa began her career as a litigation attorney before transitioning into publishing. She is a tireless advocate for her clients and a constant partner during the publication process and beyond. Melissa also acts as a contract consultant for authors and agents under the business MLE ConsultingShe can be found on Twitter @MelissaLaurenE, where she often tweets her active Manuscript Wishlist requests under #MSWL.

CM: How about we start with an icebreaker? Tell us two truths and one lie about you.
Melissa:
·      I am a certified scuba diver.
·      Two massive big-franchise celebrities have homes on my block in Brooklyn.
·      Tuna fish is my favorite food. (This is the lie! Tuna fish is the worst thing that ever happened to food.)

CM: Scuba diving—consider us impressed! Describe the path to publication for one of the books you represent.
Melissa: I met my client Syed Masood from Pitch Wars for his adult book THE BAD MUSLIM DISCOUNT. While we were out on submission for that book, he told me he also wrote a YA novel, but he wasn’t sure if it was saleable. I read it that day and we sold that YA novel before we sold his adult book. That YA novel ended up being MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE, which sold at auction to LBYR and was recently published. So you really never know what’s going to happen!

CM: Fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing that publication journey. How many authors do you currently represent? How has your author list changed over time?
Melissa: I don’t generally share the number of clients I have—since they’re in very different places in the process at any given time. Many can be quietly writing, or thinking about their next book, while others are in the selling process. I have added more authors of adult commercial fiction in the past two years versus my children’s list. I really like both sides of the industry, but it’s nice to flex my muscles in different ways.

CM: What is a common myth about agents?
Melissa: I think a myth might be that we don’t care about the authors who query us. That probably comes from a general failure to send meaningful passes to queries or the slow response time. And I can promise this isn’t the case for any agent. Every agent has a lot on their plate and sometimes queries get pushed to the bottom of the list—since we have a fiduciary and editorial duty to the clients already on our list. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t so thankful to the querying authors who have chosen to share their work with us. It doesn’t mean we don’t hope there is absolute genius in that inbox. Because we can’t survive without authors giving us that opportunity. We need authors to do our job.

CM: Name a book you recently read and can’t stop thinking about.
Melissa: I read all three books in the Alexa Martin romance trilogy and I was just obsessed with the way she used voice to depict her characters. They really come alive as people I feel like I know and understand.

Melissa's Clients

Kensington - 2020
Roaring Brook Press - 2020
CM: Think about the next book whose author you could represent. Give use three emotions you want their book to evoke.
Melissa: I’d like a book that makes people laugh aloud—I’d like to imagine a reader listening to a book and being glad she’s wearing a mask so people don’t notice her cackling. I’d like a book that makes a reader wistful and curious about another person’s life, perhaps a place that she’s never been or an experience she’s never tried. I’d like that reader to feel like she’s there in the moment with the character, so that her memories are entangled with the character’s memories. I’d like a book that instills a sense of panic or fear in the reader for a character’s safety, so much so that the reader puts the book down and looks around to make sure he’s actually sitting on a bench in the park and not being chased down a dark hallway with a serial killer at his back. The through line here is escapism—total enmeshment in the book. I like books that feel all encompassing for their readers.

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How to query Melissa:
o   Please submit your query addressed to Melissa Edwards at submissions@stonesong.com
o   Include the word “query” in the subject line of your email to ensure we receive it and it isn’t filtered as spam.
o   For Fiction: Include the first chapter or first 10 pages of your work, pasted into the body of your email, so that we may get a sense of your writing. Please do not send attachments.
o   For Nonfiction: Include your bio, credentials, social media analytics, previous publications in major media or books, and any other media, so that we may get a sense of your author platform.