Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori Guest Post & Query Critique & JR Silver Writes Her World Giveaway on 7/11/2022
  • Alex Slater Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/20/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

Agent Spotlight: Stacey Kondla Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Stacey Kondla here. She is a literary agent at The Rights Factory.

Hi­ Stacey! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Stacey:

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

Hi Natalie – thank you so much for inviting me to participate here!

I had met Sam Hiyate, the CEO, at a festival for readers and writers called WHEN WORDS COLLIDE in August of 2017. After working in the book and publishing world for around 14 years between being a field rep for Scholastic Book Fairs Canada, managing at two different Chapters/Indigo stores, doing beta reading, editing, and sitting on the organizing committee of When Words Collide for 8 years, I was really interested in agenting. I started doing some reading and writing editorial letters for Sam that fall and was super excited to start building my own list as of March 2018 when he promoted me to Associate Agent.

Since then I have built an incredible list of authors that I represent and have so far helped over 30 books find their perfect publishing home. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a range of publishers from small and medium size independent presses like Orca, Kids Can Press, and Thistledown Press to large publishers and imprints like Scholastic, Knopf, Delacorte, Lerner, Henry Holt, and Penguin Random House Canada.

I primarily focus on the children’s side representing authors with picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction. I have expanded my list to represent some stellar authors with adult works that range from nonfiction science writing to literary to horror and sci-fi. I like variety and read a variety for recreation as well. My consistent theme is that I do gravitate towards the quirky, unique and weird. I also love funny!

About the Agency:

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

The Rights Factory is a boutique agency that currently has 10 active agents, a TV/Film Agent, Karmen Wells, and a phenomenal Foreign Rights agent, Milly Ruggiero, who is based in Italy. We are a proven editorial agency and we work closely with our clients to ensure their books are the best they can be before we send them out on submission and actively seek to support our clients with sub-rights sales – like translation, audio, TV and Film.

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 primarily focus on the children’s side representing authors with picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction. I have expanded my list to represent some stellar authors with adult works that range from nonfiction science writing to literary to horror and sci-fi. I like variety and read a variety for recreation as well. My consistent theme is that I do gravitate towards the quirky, unique and weird. I also love funny!

Currently, I am closed to queries, but plan to re-open hopefully early spring and will be tweaking my #MSWL to be quite specific. I’m at the point with my client list that I need to be very, very selective and not take on client’s that are a direct competition to my existing clients and need to start filling in some holes in what I represent. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my #MSWL and hopefully find the best queries arriving in my QueryManager when I re-open.

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

One of my greatest pleasures right now for my personal recreational reading is “books about books” – like I recently read THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS by Pip Williams, THE DARK LIBRARY by Cyrille Martinez, TALK BOOKISH TO ME by Kate Bromley, THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY by Django Wexler, and several others – and I would love to find a fabulous book, either fiction or nonfiction, children’s or adult, that is a “book about books” for my list.

I also love feminist stories and desperately want to find a contemporary/literary adult novel with a 50+ female main character written by a 50+ woman that rocks my world.

On the children’s side, for middle grade and young adult, I’m definitely hoping to find a contemporary, rom-com, or horror by an Indigenous author. I’d love to see more queries from more authors that are BIPOC and/or LGBTQ2S+, and also neurodiverse authors, especially for nonfiction in both children’s works and adult.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not looking for anything that is self-help, extremely political, anti-science, and it’s a hard no if a work is misogynistic. I’m not looking for gratuitous violence and intensely dislike rape as a plot device. I am also not the person for memoir.

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?

I firmly believe that every book I help bring to market has the potential to change someone’s life. So it is very important to me to work on projects that mean something and can contribute to the world around us. I love working with authors that are easy going and see the humor in life. I truly see the author/agent relationship as symbiotic and love working with people who want to succeed together.

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?

I am an editorial agent. Honestly, every project is different, much they way many authors have said that every book they write involves a different process, the same concept can be applied to the editorial process. It really depends on where the project is and what level of editing it needs. Some projects I take on need more than others and some need less than others. I think it is important to not approach every project the same way as each author and novel or proposal are very different. Typically, I start with big picture story or structure changes and we work our way from there. I appreciate having an assistant to have a second set of eyes on projects I am too close to, and certain projects I will work with one of our agency editors through the process. The one consistent factor is that the editorial process is very collaborative and focused on helping the author make their project the best it can be before sending it out on submission.

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

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

Authors can check The Rights Factory website’s submission page and click on my link to see if I am open to queries. If I am, clicking the link will take you to my QueryManager form which asks for very specific information. Typically, I am looking for a one-line pitch, a full pitch, author bio, author website and social media tags, and the first 30 pages of the manuscript to sample.

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

I totally get that authors are busy people and filling out query forms and structuring queries for different agents can be time consuming and frustrating. For that reason I have kept my QueryManager form as very basic. I am asking for the bare minimum I need to make a decision so I don’t like it when things are not completed in full.

Response Time:

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

I wish I could say I am speedy fast all the time, but that would be a lie

Because I have a prolific list of signed clients, I have to prioritize their work and their reading first, so depending on the time of year and how many client projects are on the go, I can be either very fast, take a little time, or be tragically slow. And I am sorry for when I am tragically slow. I do my best. When I find that I am getting very slow on response time, I cut myself some slack and close to queries so I can catch up. Sometimes I miss out on great work because I am too slow and that does make me sad, but we all can only work so many hours and I honestly read a minimum of 2 manuscripts per week – my personal evenings are often spent reading manuscripts. And the thought of rushing through something is also awful. I want to give my focused attention to each project and that takes time.

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?

Yes, but the project they query me with must be unpublished – it cannot be previously published. I know many talented authors that self publish or that are agented and also self publish as a hybrid author. There is no one single path that is right for every single author. My best advice to self published authors is to make sure you have a fresh project, not part of a series they are already publishing, that has not been published in any form and then be patient. Traditional publishing takes a lot longer than self publishing, so be prepared to wait.

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?

I don’t think any role in publishing is safe from change as the publishing landscape continues to evolve and change as every year goes by. Of course, the role of agents will change and already has as we take a larger role in editing prior to pitching and in promoting our clients. I think the role of the literary agent in looking out for the best interests of clients, protecting their rights, and negotiating deals and contracts will remain static for a while yet. Having an agent to help liaise between the author and publisher can be helpful to both parties, especially in difficult situations or situations of disagreement.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Kalena Miller, the debut author of the YA novel THE NIGHT WHEN NO ONE HAD SEX, which just released in October, H. N. Khan, debut author of the YA novel WRONG SIDE OF THE COURT, releasing in March 2022, Dana L. Church, debut author of the middle grade nonfiction book THE BEEKEEPERS, which released in March 2021, Ali Bryan, whose YA novel THE HILL just released in March 2021, Mary Boone, whose middle grade nonfiction book BUGS FOR BREAKFAST recently released in October 2021, and many others with books that have already released or are upcoming and I could go on and on – it’s so exciting!!!

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

I don’t think I have any – older interviews won’t be helpful as I am overhauling my #MSWL for the new year and I’d rather authors not listen to old wishes.

Then again this online interview from a while back isn’t bad, I’ve just come a long way since then 😊 https://medium.com/the-partnered-pen/a-peek-into-the-world-of-literary-agents-part-one-stacey-kondla-74632f3198ba

Links and Contact Info:

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

I only accept queries through QueryManager, which can be accessed through the agency website here: https://www.therightsfactory.com/submissions

Alternatively, I do accept qualified referrals from my signed clients and I do participate occasionally in online virtual pitch events. I will tweet about those as they come up. Twitter is a good place to watch as I announce opening and closing for queries there.

Update on 1/13/2022: Stacey is now open to queries. You can find a link to her complete wishlist and can query her at https://querymanager.com/query/1760

Additional Advice:

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

I think that there is never enough said about the power of networking and developing relationships in the writing community. Make friends with other writers, editors, publishers, book store staff, readers, book podcasters, #bookstagramers, Book Tok-ers, everyone who loves books. Go to writing conferences, attend virtual book launch events, entrench yourself firmly in your local writing community. You never know when you will meet someone who will help you on your next leg of your publishing journey, and you never know who you may inspire to keep writing. Be kind out there and make bookish friends <3

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Stacey.

­Stacey is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through December 31st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

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.

27 comments:

  1. I love your list of 'no' topics--the same things I don't like reading!

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  2. I am looking forward to Stacey reopening to queries, and can't wait to see her new MSWL. Thanks for this interview!

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  3. It's easy to forget that even if an agent is keen on certain genres or topics it could be that they already have a client that is too similar and has to pass. Would love a query critique though - have only just started querying so no real feedback yet. martinleeporter@gmail.com

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  4. I've also been reading a lot of books about books recently. Thanks for the interview. I'd love to enter the contest for a critique. clairewallace13@gmail.com

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  5. I'd love to be entered to win the critique. And I love these interviews, I was not even aware of this agency! Thanks for sharing! I follow via email and on the gadget.
    helloelizabethjames -at- gmail dot com

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  6. Great interview! Would love a query review. Happy holidays all around!

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  7. Thanks for offering a critique! Would love to be entered into the giveaway.

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  8. Hmmm... Must write a book with a 50-something protagonist...

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  9. I too am looking forward to Stacey opening again for queries. Thanks for this interview! I follow via email - readingroom@eagle.ca.

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  10. Stacey seems very dedicated and thorough. I think anyone would be lucky to have her as an agent.

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  11. I'm interested to see what changes Stacey makes to her MSWL, and I would love a query critique.

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  12. Great interview! Thank you and would be interested to see the updated MSWl as well.

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  13. Loved the insight! You are on my list to query when you re-open! I can't wait!

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  14. I would love to have a query. Yes I am interested in Stacey’s #MSWL when she’s ready . I have a quirky PB.

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  15. I have a YA book about books . . . looking forward to sending it to Stacey when she's open. I shared this on Twitter and Facebook! michelle.r.stimpson@gmail.com

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  16. So interesting to learn more about the world of literary agents and get to know a bit more about Stacey! It's great to see such passionate people helping aspiring writers make their dreams come true. (staceyamcgregor@gmail.com)

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  17. The community of writers, readers, agents, editors, librarians. bookseller and book bloggers - what a wonderful uplift to be part of this creative family. I love that Stacey takes her time and doesn't rush reading a manuscript - when we rush we miss the fun - much better to relax and enjoy the adventure :-)

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  18. Another great interview! I'd love to be included in the contest and have tweeted about it also. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  19. Thank you for your insight on how an agent might be looking to fill "holes" - it was very encouraging for me!

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  20. As a Canadian I love reading about this Agent and am very familiar with the presses she is referring to. Would love her eyes on a query!

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  21. I loved learning about this agent, and love the advice she shares. I would be thrilled to have her eyes on a query.

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  22. Thank you for posting this interview, and thanks to Ms. Kondla for offering a query critique giveaway!

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  23. Hi Natalie and Stacey. Happy Holidays to you both! So interesting to have an agent's pov in our industry. I am looking forward to Stacey reopening queries because I have a book she may like. So nice of her to offer a query critique! That is one area of expertise we all need to learn when it comes to querying out new projects. Thank you, ladies!

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  24. Wonderful interview. I especially appreciate the advice to form relationships within the writing community. This indeed is not discussed enough! Thank you both!
    jen.jasinski.author@gmail.com

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  25. Thank you for the interview, and for the offer of a query critique!

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  26. Thanks for another great interview. I appreciate Ms. Kondla's honesty about response times. I appreciate her offer of a query critique and look forward to reading her updated MSWL this Spring.

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