Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • 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.

Literary Agent Interview: Monica Rodriguez Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Monica Rodriguez here. She is a junior literary agent at Context Literary Agency.

Hi Monica! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Monica:


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

I started as a writer! The more I queried, the more curious I got about agenting. I also realized there weren't enough Latinx agents out there and I wanted to use my marketing skills and writing experience to find a way to open doors for others and create more seats at the table. I applied for an internship at Context Literary where I met Tamar Rydzinski, we later discussed a marketing position and I started at Context as the Director of Brand Management. In February of 2022 I knew I was ready to open for queries when I was listening to a writer talk about a poetry collection and visualized a potential career path for them and thought, wait a minute, am I agenting? I signed my first client, Jassyel Gomez who is a picture book author and recently signed Jozette Allah-Mensah as my first adult author! I'm super excited to help share their stories with the world.

About the Agency:

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

I get to work with some of the kindest agents out there. The Context team has been super supportive and provides mentorship in a collaborative environment. We love helping authors and illustrators bring books to life and are extremely passionate about uplifting authors whose stories allow readers to feel seen. We love to maximize our client’s career potential, helping them stay ahead of the curve. As the Director of Brand Management for the agency, I get to help Context authors with their brand, offer advice, and support their books throughout their writing career. Every author at Context gets this as part of being at our agency!

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?

In children’s literature, I am actively looking for PB, MG, YA & Graphic Novels. I am also open to adult and non-fiction submissions. I represent most genres in all categories. I like contemporary, romance, low fantasy, mystery, time travel sci-fi, and literary fiction. For nonfiction, I tend to lean towards memoir, travel, pop culture, self-help, and psychology.

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

I gravitate towards stories about identity, family relationships, and travel. My mission as an agent is to uplift underrepresented voices, including, (but not limited to) authors who identify as People of Color (BIPOC), disabled, neurodiverse, and LGBTQ+. If you identify as an underrepresented voice in publishing, I want to see your query!

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I like to keep things open because I like to find things that surprise me. My queries are open to discovering and finding treasure so I’m not closing any doors right now.

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’m really interested in finding books that reflect our world. Anything with a first-gen lens or a sibling relationship plot will immediately peak my interest. These were books I wanted growing up and my mission is to help make space for stories that we aren’t as familiar with. Whether that’s with an identity story or a fantasy novel that explores a culture or folklore that isn’t a household legend yet, I want more stories where people feel seen and less alone in the world. As far as the authors I’m looking to represent, my mission is to be a literary fairy godmother to underrepresented voices so those queries will always be first priority in my inbox.

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! As a writer myself, it’s hard not to be an editorial agent. I will usually do 1-2 internal revisions with my authors before we go out on submission. While my authors are working on edits, I start building my list of editors and meet with some of them to get a feel for who would be the best editor for the project. I’ll work on the pitch and keep updates pretty organized. I like to be transparent with my clients and share updates on a GoogleSheet. While I’m pitching, we’ll agree on a project to work on in the meantime. I like to meet quarterly to brainstorm what’s next!

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

Context only accepts queries via email (see next question below). There’s also a form on our website for accessibility under our Submissions page.

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

Check out my Manuscript Wish List! If you feel it aligns with my list, please send a short description, short bio, and 5-10 pages of text pasted into the body of the email to querymonica@contextlit.com. I do not open attachments. If you are an author-illustrator or have a graphic novel, please send a portfolio link and a query. If I’m interested in seeing more of your work, I’ll let you know. Something that isn’t required but is super helpful for me is seeing the category and genre in the subject line of your query.

As far as your query letter, tell me what your story is about! What are the stakes? What makes your main characters worth loving? I want to know about your book. You can end your query letter with a quick bio and anything that ties to my list. I also love to see the category and comps to give me an idea of where you think your book belongs on the shelf. Above all, keep it simple. Let your first pages speak for themselves.

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

Make sure you send me your first pages. I know it’s tempting to send a chapter from later in the book but I want to know how your book starts. If you don’t feel confident about your first pages, they might need some revising. There’s no need to add too much biographical information in your query letter. Pitch me your book! That’s really what I’m looking for.

Response Time:

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

I try to respond to all queries within 1-2 weeks. I like to respond to all full manuscript requests within 60 days.

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?

I only represent unpublished work as an agent but I don’t mind if you’ve self-published before! In fact, I think it shows that you know how much work it takes to bring something to life and continue giving it life. I would advise to mention it in your query letter if you’ve self-published before, you never know what will peak an agent’s interest.

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 think the agent role will forever evolve into how we can best support our clients. Whether that’s as a hybrid author or for brand partnerships to help their brand, I can see the role evolving to help our authors with the marketing side of things as social media continues to be on the rise. Every agent is different but that’s why we added an in-house brand management arm at Context Literary, to help authors manage the marketing side of their careers.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I currently represent Jassyel Gomez and Jozette Allah-Mensah! I loved both of their stories instantly as well as all their other WIPs. Jassyel Gomez is a Mexican-American picture book author who is inspired by her daughter, community, and her experiences growing up in Eagle Pass, TX, a town on the US-Mexico border. Jozette Allah-Mensah is a Ghanaian-American writer, reader, and happily ever after aficionado. You can read more about my clients on my website.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

Along with novel writing, I run a blog called Find A Lovely Life where I write about self-love, books and travel. You can follow our official book club for the kinds of books I like to read. I was recently featured on LatinxInPublishing’s blog and hosted a #SalaSunday Takeover on their Instagram page. Check out the blog post here!

Links and Contact Info:

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

Check out our Submissions page on the Context website. Please send a short description, short bio, and 5-10 pages of text pasted into the body of the email to querymonica@contextlit.com. I do not open attachments. If you want a more detailed MSWL, check out my website. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for #MSWL tweets and my Instagram for updates!

Additional Advice:

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

I thought I knew how slow the publishing industry moved until I looked behind the curtain. I think patience is a great virtue you’ll need to master for this industry. There are always things moving behind the scenes and the best way to cope with timing is to never lose touch with why you’re doing this in the first place. Keep writing, find other creative ways to keep you inspired. Everything happens when it’s meant to.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Monica.

Monica 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 August 20th. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

33 comments:

Ilona Bray said...

Monica's enthusiasm comes through so strongly in this interview! Thanks for bringing it to us.

Liz A. said...

As a writer, I don't think I'd ever want to do an agent's job. My brain doesn't work like that. So, I'm impressed that Monica was able to make that jump. I don't think I've heard that way of getting into agenting before (or at least, not much).

Tara said...

Another great interview! It's always interesting to hear the stories behind why agents pursue their career. Thanks for the opportunity to get a critique! tsexton725@gmail.com

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She certainly is open to a variety!

Elizabeth said...

I’d love to win this! I follow via email and your widget

helloelizabethjames at gmail dot com

Anneliese Schultz said...

Wow - so very much good information. Thank you!

Catherine Ann Velasco said...

Thank you for an inspiring article! I love the quote about patience!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

It would be amazing to have a marketing guru/agent in your corner!

Nancy said...

Great interview with Monica! Fingers crossed I can win a query critique.

Michelle Renee Stimpson said...

"The literary fairy godmother to underrepresented voices" is the best job title ever. I'd be honored to have Monica take a look at my query. Michelle.r.stimpson@gmail.com

Ella said...

Thank you for the great interview! I'd like a query critique. I've tweeted this interview: https://twitter.com/ElaMishne/status/1556985274386751489

email: ela.mishne@gmail.com

Sarah Meade said...

Thanks for this informative and upbeat interview!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this great interview! I loved the reminder to be patient. Patience is hard for me with writing because after I finish revising I'm ready to see my book out in the world!

ptnozell said...

An informative interview! Thank you! I'll be sharing this on twitter.

Jacqui Murray said...

Great option for writers in these genres. Nice variety

Bri Lawyer said...

Oops... I thought I was already a follower. Let's try this again now that I actually am:
Thanks for sharing this great interview! I loved the reminder to be patient. Patience is hard for me with writing because after I finish revising I'm ready to see my book out in the world!

mhberg said...


Natalie, thank you for this great opportunity with Monica! I would love to have her eyes on my latest story.(newsletter comes to mhberg@sbcglobal.net but my google account is at mhberg61@gmail.com)

Tonja Drecker said...

Refreshing to hear the openness to self-published! It's true that they do have a bit of insight new authors wouldn't have. Great interview.

Shamaila J said...

Great interview! I would love to enter the critique giveaway. My email is shamaila.siddique@gmail.com

Jasmine Krouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jasmine Krouse said...

Please enter me in the giveaway! Thank you, Natalie. I tweeted the interview link.

jasminekrouse07@gmail.com

Elizabeth Mueller said...

I love how Monica shines. Thank you for the interview, Natalie!

♥.•*¨Elizabeth Mueller¨*•.♥

Tanya Elchuk said...

Thank you both for the great interview! It's great to see newer agents profiled and get to know a little about what they're looking for. Please enter me in the draw - thanks!

Amy Miller said...

Wonderful interview! Thanks Natalie and Monica.

Lauri Meyers said...

I love how much excitement Monica exudes for the joy of editing. Glad she is building her own list.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I got here at last. Whatever glitch I had in my search engine seems resolved now. I just want to say that Monica Rodriguez sounds like a terrific agent to work with. I'm not currently writing MG or YA, but if I were, I'd want an agent like her.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you were able to get onto the blog, Elizabeth.

Anonymous said...

I would love the opportunity for a critique and to query Monica once I am ready. Nellynunez90004@yahoo.com

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Shanah Salter said...

Great interview! I would love to be considered for a critique and have shared on Twitter. Thank you.

Cathy Sheafor said...

What a great interview and generous giveaway! Best to all.

Katie TheLogonauts said...

Such a great opportunity, thank you!

I quote tweeted about the contest (@katie_mcenaney) and am subscribed already via 1logonaut@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

This interview had a lot of great info. Very much appreciated. Please enter me in the contest. whoopie@whoopiechicken.com