Thursday, October 9, 2014

5 Introducing My Agent Extraordinaire, Melissa Nasson of RPC!

I love doing our agent interviews on Thursdays! But today is EXTRA special because I get to introduce my own agent, Melissa! <33

Melissa Nasson has spent her life living in and around Boston, attending college at Boston University (Go Terriers!). While studying at Boston University School of Law, she realized that becoming a literary agent would combine her passion for books with her legal background, and she began interning at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, and later at East-West Literary Agency and Rubin Pfeffer Content. After taking the bar exam, Melissa worked as a foreign rights intern at Perseus Books Group before starting as Contracts Director at Beacon Press. Now, she continues her work at Beacon Press while actively building her list as an associate agent at Rubin Pfeffer Content. Melissa is looking for edgy characters with unique voices, enjoys surprising settings, and loves romance that builds slowly and gives her butterflies. She is open to MG, YA, and NA fiction in any genre, though she has a soft spot for fantasy and sci-fi and tends to shy away from thrillers. She will also consider fiction intended for the adult market, particularly edgy speculative fiction and gothic/horror novels. Melissa loves dogs, craft beer, making pickles, tending to her tiny vegetable garden, and her pet tortoise, Norton.

What do you look for in a client, Melissa? 

When I’m considering whether to represent someone, there are a few factors I take into account. First and foremost, I need to like the person! It’s not difficult to meet this criterion, since I like nice people. I enjoy representing clients with whom I can work well on the business side, but also share stories, jokes, hopes, fears, and more. We’re collaborating on your life’s work, and because that’s such a serious responsibility, to me it makes sense for author and agent to get to know each other.

I also value honesty and open communication. Forthrightness and regular interaction are essential in a publishing relationship, and I believe that both agent and client need to be comfortable expressing their needs and being frank about what’s working and what isn't.

It’s also important that clients be open to hearing my advice on when and where to revise. One client’s motto says it all: “Everyone needs an editor.” An author’s work will always be their own, but I believe that outside opinions are crucial to helping a piece of writing reach its full potential.

What do you look for in a query?

In a query, I’m looking for a succinct summary that gives me a firm idea of what the book is about without revealing any big spoilers. It needs to be punchy, and it needs to draw me in and make me excited to start reading. It impresses me when authors incorporate comparative titles into their queries, because it shows they’re looking ahead to a future pitch. Right away I want to know what makes this book special and different from what’s already out there in the market. It turns me off to see typos and major grammatical errors in the query, so I appreciate careful proofreading.

Okay, now my own question! Why are you and I such a good match?

Where do I begin? I wanted to represent Lisa because her passion for YA publishing came through loud and clear from the very beginning, and her enthusiasm is just infectious. Though we've never met in person, Lisa’s positive outlook comes through in every phone call and email. She’s nice (!), smart, funny, and she doesn't hesitate to ask questions or bounce thoughts off me. And, of course, she’s an extremely talented writer and storyteller, and I fell in love with her work. I’m still stunned by how prolific she is, and by the uniqueness of each project. I appreciate how open Lisa is to editorial suggestions, the firm grasp she has on her characters and stories, and her commitment to improving wherever possible. Most importantly, I think Lisa values communication and honesty just as much as I do. All in all, I feel that we’re extremely well matched as agent and client! She also invites me to do fun things like interviews and Pitch Plus Five competitions, and she gives me Twitter advice J

LOL! I think I'll frame that response! But now you all know what she looks for and if you want to hear my side of the story check out yesterday's post.  Thank you, Melissa! 


  1. Really enjoyed meeting your agent, Lisa. And that's awesome that she did something different with her law degree than practicing law. If I lived on the East coast, I'd consider a career change like she did. She sounds like an awesome agent.

  2. It's so great that you found the perfect agent for you. She sounds terrific.

  3. Super to meet you, Melissa. I can vouch for the fact that Lisa actually glows when she talks about you.

  4. "Everyone needs an editor." Oh boy is this true! Great interview :)


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