Here are my current Giveaway Contests

When You and I Collide through July 24th

Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop through July 31st

The Verdigris Pawn through July 31st

Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Sera Rivers Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/11/2021

Renae Moore Agent Spotlight Interview on 8/25/2021

Nicole Eisenbraun Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/15/2021

Agent Chloe Seager and Author Brianna Bourne Guest Post and Query Critique and You and Me at the End of the World Giveaway on 9/20/2021

Crystal Orazu Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/22/2021

Kristin Ostby Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/11/2021

Ginger Clark Agent Spotlight and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/25/2021

Agent Spotlight Updates

All agent spotlights and interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated again in 2023.


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Melissa Richeson here. She is an associate literary agent at Apokedak Literary Agency.

Hi­ Melissa! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Melissa:

1.   Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.   

Short story: I became an agent after interning for Sally at the Apokedak Literary Agency for about a year. Long story: Sally and I met at a conference a few years ago, and I appreciated her insight and vision for the children’s book industry right away. When she opened her own agency, I applied for an internship in hopes of learning more about children’s books overall. During that year, I learned a lot about the business side of the publishing industry, which really piqued my interest, since I have a background in marketing. This past spring, Sally took a leap of faith and promoted me to associate agent. :)

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

We’re a small, boutique agency, which I think gives us an edge in terms of personal service for and personal interaction with our clients. We’re also editorial, which means we like to help authors shine up the little things in the manuscript before submission. You only get one shot when it comes to submissions—might as well make it the best it can be! We also request the full manuscript and synopsis at time of query in an effort to really immerse ourselves in the storyline. We recognize that a story is more than its first pages (though first pages are still very important!). 

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I represent PB through YA. I’m drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or low fantasy in middle grade, and lyrical, magical, character-driven stories in young adult.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to see in the genres you are interested in?

In YA, I’d love to see more clean contemporary that’s aimed at younger readers, a smart, non-violent mystery, or a lighthearted rom-com with a witty, unpredictable twist. I’d also love fresh, hook-y MG—extra bonus points for non-bathroom humor.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in? 

No horror, graphic violence, or erotica, please. Paranormal and sci-fi don’t usually fit my taste either, but I can be persuaded with a strong character arc.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

My philosophy—altruism, happiness, and fun! I want to represent authors who want to make the world a better place. I want to represent projects that make children feel happy and loved. And making books for kids should be fun!

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

Yes. I make suggestions at both a concept level and a line level, usually based on my perceptions of marketability. Many times there will be multiple back-and-forth documents as we work together toward a final version. But the ultimate say goes to the author, of course.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see in the query letter?

I accept queries over e-mail (see below). I like short and sweet query letters that give me a good taste for the story in just a few sentences. Also, I think it’s best to keep the bio portion relevant to the project at hand. I really enjoy reading queries, so don’t be nervous! :)

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

I dislike it when people aren’t nice—a bullying tone (telling me I have to take a project on or else) is a turn off. It tells me that the author will not be pleasant to work with. I also dislike an impatiently worded followup. And I especially dislike a rude response to my polite, personal decision. (I was once told to squeeze a pair of sea urchins, among other things. Not nice.) 

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

Our official agency line is twelve weeks or less for a decision, since the full manuscript should be attached in the first place. Because I’m still building my list, I try my best to keep it under the four week mark personally…but that’s not a promise. ;)

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

Sure! But it’s in your best interest to query something new. Moving a previously published book to a different house is not my area of expertise. A new manuscript allows for a fresh start!

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

Time will tell, I suppose. Right now I see myself as an advocate for authors while also looking out for editors. That’s why I take the editorial part of my role so seriously—I want to give authors the best chance, AND I also want to give editors a story worth falling in love with.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

Links and Contact Info:

14. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.  

Please submit a query letter plus the first ten pages pasted into the body of the email; add the full manuscript and synopsis as attachments. 
Email: melissa.richeson at apokedakliterary dot com 

Additional Advice:

15. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

Never underestimate the power of a critique group. I know it can be scary to have other people look at and pick apart your work, but the experience is so valuable. (In fact, those who mention being part of a critique group in their query letter always get a little extra attention from me, honestly.) Also, don’t give up! Rejections will happen at every level—learn from them and press on. Your story will not resonate with everyone—that’s just the nature of this subjective business. Keep going until you find the right people to champion your work. 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Melissa.

­Melissa is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through September 7th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/25/2020. 
Agent Contacted for Review? No
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A
Comment: Confirmed her agency and submission status

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.


  1. I was very interested with the above interview. Great read.


  2. Great interview! And YES to critique groups- scary to jump in but the most valuable learning experience.

  3. I would love a critique from Ms. Richeson! (

  4. Nice article and nice agent: happiness, altruism, and fun! Please enter me in the critique giveaway. Also, good tip about mentioning that you're a part of a critique group in one's query letter.

    1. I just completed my profile, so this comment is from me (Brandon Breen; brandonmbreen AT

  5. Great interview and advice! I agree that there is a need for more 'light' contemporary YA - my students always enjoy that type of story.
    (I'm not currently writing MG or YA so please let someone else win the crit)

  6. Thanks for the great interview! I agree about critique groups - my SCBWI group has been so helpful and supportive!

  7. Great info. Sadly, I'm not a YA author.

  8. Great info as I continue my querying journey!

  9. I love the idea of a boutique agency. And no matter how much I learn about publishing, there are still things I'd like to have an agent to run to for help.

  10. Yes, I also like the idea of a boutique agency, Melissa, and the fact that you can give children's writers individual attention. I've just completed a master's degree in creative writing, but sadly I am on the other side of the pond. Wishing you every success 🌹

  11. Fantastic interview! I had to laugh at the "non-bathroom humor."

  12. But but butt potty humor can't go to pot lol yeah, sometimes it is a bit much.

  13. Enjoyed getting to know Melissa through this great interview. Thanks for the tip to mention critique group membership in the query. Would love to win Melissa's critique giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity.

  14. Great interview! Thanks Melissa. Creating books that make children happy and feel loved is a great ambition for all writers.

  15. Nice interview. I love that she gives "extra bonus points for non-bathroom humor" in MG. A lot of MG books have bathroom humor. I like the ones that don't follow that trend!

  16. Would love to work with an editorial agent. Please enter me for the Query Critique give-away.

  17. thanks for sharing the great interview
    sherry @ fundinmental

  18. Thank you for a great interview, and the reminder that rejections happen to everyone.

  19. After receiving multiple rejections, I'm encouraged by the reminder that agents are kind and compassionate human beings, not intimidating kings and queens on high thrones ultimately defining my work as good or bad. Thank you, Melissa! (

  20. forgot to add that I tweeted about the query giveaway. CarolynChambersClark
    via @Casey_McCormick
    6:08 PM · Aug 27, 2019·Twitter Web Client

  21. Thank you so much for this interview. It has been a while since I've considered searching for a literary agent. Getting a chance to read interviews like this one is extremely helpful.

    Also, as a writer, I'm so sorry, Melissa, that someone from our community said such a rude thing to you. I understand we can be sensitive about our work, but respect is the way to go since this is also a business.

  22. Thank you for this interview. I think it’s so helpful that Ms. Richeson is an agent interested in editing and helping an author shine!

  23. Thank you so much for this interview. It helped renew my determination to not give up! I would love to have one of my manuscripts critiqued.

  24. Hi Natalie, Thanks for a great interview with Melissa. I can verify her politeness when responding to a query. I am excited to have a chance for the critique giveaway and also to submit more queries in the future.

  25. Nice interview. I agree about the critique group. Sometimes they can be full of people who aren't really that supportive, but when you find one that lifts as well as teaches, that's priceless.

  26. Thank you for your time Melissa. I love learning about agents who enjoy picture books. Please enter me in the query critique giveaway.

  27. I really enjoy reading these interviews you do with agents, Natalie. It helps me understand a bit more about the process and how they work - all have individual approaches.

    My query is for my travel memoir, which I've sent out to over 50 agents so far. If Melissa's critique goes across genres, I happily enter to receive a free critique. All of us, writers, could benefit from that! :-)

  28. I would love an entry! amyleskowski at gmail dot com
    I also tweeted about the contest.

  29. Thanks for a great interview. Love Melissa's energy!

  30. I would be aggravated with a bully approach in query letters, too. A little humility goes a long way!

    Great interview!

  31. I love how she makes the business seem more personal. Great interview!

  32. Thanks for a great interview! She sounds terrific!

  33. Always fascinating to learn more about the publishing world. Wonderful interview! Thanks!

  34. Good interview! I like your answer to the IWSG question, too. I write from home, love everything you like about it. There's nothing better than working from home, no traffic, no distractions, no expensive lunches!

  35. This interview provides good insight into the agent process, and Melissa sounds like a sweetheart. Thanks, Natalie!

  36. Thank you for doing this interview. Melissa sounds like a great up-and-coming agent.

  37. Hi Mara, your book sounds really good. Congrats on your new release.

    Hi Natalie, I've heard so many people say they prefer to write at home. There are definitely advantages to it.

  38. I am so happy to hear Melissa's request for clean contemporary YA for younger readers. There's a definite need!

  39. Sorry--I'm having trouble commenting as me.