This week's Agent Spotlight features Melissa Sarver of Folio Literary Management
Status: Accepting submissions.
About: “I joined Folio in 2012 after more than six years with the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency, where I represented clients in non-fiction and fiction, with a focus on Young Adult fiction, cookbooks, memoir and business books.
“In addition to Elizabeth Kaplan, I benefit from significant time spent working with literary agents Scott Waxman and Sally Wofford-Girand. This comprehensive background exposed me to such a variety of books and editors that I find myself in the fortunate position to successfully represent authors in a vast array of genres. I’m excited to continue representing my authors at Folio while taking on new clients.
“For me, reading is about exploration. I love finding new voices that can express something in a fresh way or new subject matter that makes the reader view the world differently, whether it’s through fiction or non-fiction. One of the most thrilling aspects of my job is the constant exposure to a wide variety of topics; it’s truly thrilling to play a part ushering innovative projects into the world.
“Prior to book publishing, I worked on the editorial teams of national magazines. I’ve found this experience useful in seeking out magazine journalists, assessing when magazine articles can be expanded into meaningful books, and providing hands-on editorial work on non-fiction book proposals. While a big part of my job includes the representation of my list of authors, I also handle the international rights for the entire agency, a role which promises to put me in contact with even more new people, new places and new ideas.” (Link)
About the Agency:
"Folio Literary Management, LLC, is a full-service literary management company dedicated to providing comprehensive representation and career management to authors. Like other literary agencies, we focus on selling the domestic and subsidiary rights to our clients' books. But unlike most other agencies, we don't consider our job done when a client's book hits the shelves. At Folio, we recognize that's just the start. In addition to the traditional role of literary agents, we work closely with all of our clients to develop their platforms, writing, and credentials, and to assist them in extracting the most value possible from their intellectual property." (Link)
What She’s Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
YA, Adult Fiction, Narrative NF, Memoir, Business, Cookbooks. (Link)
From the Website (as of 3/2013):
“Something new, something fresh or something edgy, dark, and innovative.
In YA, I’m attracted to realistic contemporary stories with a strong sense of voice and elegant writing that pack an emotional punch, like Sara Zarr’s STORY OF A GIRL; Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY, Jandy Nelson’s THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. I also enjoy lighter fare like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, THE CARRIE DIARIES, and PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. My YA taste run much lighter, fun and romancy than adult fiction. I’d love to see high concept contemporary YA. I’m also looking for YA mysteries, thrillers, horror, science fiction, urban fantasy, speculative, historical with a twist (alternate historical or historical with magical realism).
“When it comes to adult fiction, I live for dark, raw voices that make me see the “world in a new way. I look for characters who offer me a new or different perspective, whether it’s a character in urban London (Zadie Smith), a little boy held captive (ROOM), or a young woman on the brink (SALVAGE THE BONES).
“I love to get lost in anything that teaches me about another place and time through the lens of the character. Some of my favorite non-client authors are Michael Chabon, Nicole Krauss, Graham Swift, Haruki Mirikami, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Abraham Verghese, and Tana French.
“In non-fiction, I’m looking for narrative and memoir with strong voice and prose. I enjoy memoir that read like a novel, that aren’t just about the author’s personal story but one that uses that story as a springboard for a larger story about a place or an event that has deeper resonance. I lean towards subjects that are more sociologically, anthropologically or historically inclined. I also love travel memoir.
“Business: I’m looking for people with significant platforms, mainly for “big idea” business books but I’ll also consider some prescriptive.
“Cookbooks and food writing of all kinds, whether you’re a chef, food writer, blogger, baker – I like it all!
“I’m also looking for select health, wellness and diet projects.” (Link)
From an Interview (12/2012):
“I’m looking for higher concept contemporary fiction, like Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why or Gayle Forman’s Should I Stay. I am a sucker for a fresh, compelling voice, but I think that’s not enough to find success in today’s market, unfortunately. I’m looking for more issue-based books a la Sara Zarr or Laurie Halse Anderson. I love the hint of historical instead of dystopian, even alternative histories. I’m also looking for horror or darker, gothic stories with a bit of the grotesque. I’m still seeing too much dystopian that doesn’t feel fresh. And, oddly, too many “dead sister/friend/parent” contemporary stories without more driving them than the protagonist learning to deal with her/his grief. And even though Anna and the French Kiss was successful and wonderful, it’s still difficult to break these kinds of books out, especially as a debut book.” (Link)
From a Blog Post (06/2012):
“She looks for contemporary/realistic fiction, both literary and commercial; mysteries; urban fantasy; magical realism, and issue-based stories. She’s drawn to dark tales with brilliant prose and strong voice as well as quirky stories with a fresh sense of humor, and heartbreaking romances. She especially enjoys multicultural stories and similarly emotional stories with dystopian themes. She also considers Middle Grade fiction and Picture Books.” (Link)
What She Isn’t Looking For:
“Genre romance, westerns, hard science fiction or fantasy. I do not represent poetry, plays, or screenplays.” (Link)
“I don’t look for thrillers, romance, paranormal or fantasy (though I do love dystopian and what I’d consider ‘speculative fiction’).” (Link)
“I work very closely with my authors through the entire process; I’m extremely hands on when it comes to editing proposals (thank you, magazine days!) or manuscripts.” (Link w/more)
There are lists of Folio clients on the website.
Ms. Sarver’s clients include: Sangu Mandanna (THE LOST GIRL, Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins) Kim Culbertson (INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART, Sourcebooks) Todd Henry(THE ACCIDENTAL CREATIVE, Portfolio/Penguin) Jessie Sholl (DIRTY SECRET, Gallery/S&S); Tammy Donroe (WINTERSWEET, Running Press) Allison and Matt Robicelli (ROBICELLI’S: A LOVE STORY, WITH CUPCAKES, Viking Studio), among others.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Fill out Ms. Sarver’s online form on the agency website. Do not submit simultaneously to more than one agent at Folio. For information on queries and manuscript formatting see the “Submissions” tab on the website.
“Don’t tell me you’ve written ten books if none of them have been published. Don’t tell me you’re a ‘published’ author if it was through a vanity press. Don’t tell me what other editors and agents have said when they’ve rejected you. Don’t call what you’re writing a ‘fiction novel.’ Don’t tell me you’ve looked extensively at what I represent and then submit a thriller. Don’t tell me that you’ve already written a trilogy (or worse, a five-book series); let’s start with one book and say it has the potential of being developed into a series. And if you’re out there writing, don’t write an entire trilogy before approaching agents and editors! It’s a waste of your time.” (Link w/more)
Stats on the web show Ms. Sarver responding to most queries within 1-4 weeks and requested material within 1-6.
What's the Buzz?
Melissa Sarver joined Folio in late 2012 after more than six years with the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency. She has a stable and growing list of authors who seem to love her and sales to such houses/imprints as Random House Children’s, Balzer & Bray, Razorbill, and Sourcebooks.
I recommend following her on Twitter @mjsarver for the latest and greatest.
Worth Your Time:
Interview with Literary agent Melissa Sarver of Folio Literary Management at Amy M. Newman’s site (12/2012).
Interview with Agent Melissa at Echoes of Wayward Mind (07/2012)
Agent Advice: Melissa Sarver of Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (01/2011)
Interview with an Agent: Melissa Sarver at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (07/2010)
Marvelous Marketer: Melissa Sarver (Literary Agent, Elizabeth Kaplan Agency) at Market My Words (08/2009).
Around the Web:
There's a great list of resources on the Folio Literary website.
You can sign up for the Folio Literary newsletter here.
Folio Literary Management on P&E (Recommended, $).
Folio Literary Management thread on Absolute Write.
Ten Things About My New Agent by client Jen Nadol (01/2012)
Melissa Sarver, guest critiquer, at Kathleen Temean’s site (06/2012).
Please see Folio Literary Management website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 3/11/13.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 10/3/12.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's and/or teen fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.