The Rejections That Hurt Most: Author-Agent Empathy, Revision & Rejection as Protection With Agent Monica Rodriguez

The Manuscript Academy Podcast

With Agent Monica Rodriguez

We are so happy to welcome Monica Rodriguez, agent at Context Literary, to the podcast!

Not only is Monica Jessica’s Agency colleague in charge of Brand Management (and helping writers promote their work), she’s also an agent with expertise in branding, marketing, and helping creatives refine their ideas. Plus, she’s an agented writer on submission, so she has empathy for both sides of the desk.

We talk about which rejections to ignore, when to incorporate edits, the author-agent empathy gap, and whether rejections for clients or her own writing hurt more (you may be surprised).

We also love a happy story of how she celebrated the recent sale of one of her books, and how she plans to do the same in the future.

Want to meet with Monica? Book a time here!



The Path to Publishing (00:01:04)
Monica discusses her journey into the publishing industry, including her role as a junior agent and director of brand management at Context Literary.

Losing and Rediscovering the Love of Reading (00:02:06)
Monica shares her experience of falling out of love with reading in middle school and how she rediscovered her passion for books as an adult.

What Monica is Looking for in Submissions (00:08:46)
Monica talks about her interest in building her kid lit list, as well as her preferences for adult manuscripts, including romance, sci-fi, upmarket, speculative fiction, coming-of-age stories, family dynamics, and first-gen stories. She also mentions her love for stories set outside the US.

The journey of healing and growth (00:11:54)
Discusses the importance of embracing individual timelines for healing and growth, and the messy and repetitive process of healing.

Coming of age as a writer (00:12:46)
Explores the idea that the timing of publishing may not always align with the writer’s desired timeline, and how it often works out as it’s meant to be.

Color-coded spreadsheets and the agent-writer connection (00:13:31)
Talks about the use of color-coded spreadsheets in tracking queries and submissions, and the importance of understanding the connection between being an agent and a writer.

The editorial vision for creative business partnership (00:22:22)
The speaker discusses the importance of having an editorial vision and the need to contribute to the work to make it better.

The struggle to find the right edit (00:23:19)
The speaker talks about the frustration of not being able to come up with ideas to improve a book and the difficulty in finding the right edit.

The empathy gap in the submission process (00:27:13)
The speakers discuss the isolation of writing, the importance of reconnecting with the why of writing, and the empathy gap in the submission process.

The story of Stephanie and Diego (00:33:50)
The speaker shares a story about initially feeling unsure about signing a dual author combo and graphic novelists, but eventually signing Stephanie and Diego and selling their first graphic novel.

Celebrating the first sale (00:35:33)
The speaker talks about calling her clients with the good news of their first sale, but having to wait for them to wake up as they stayed up late playing a video game. She also mentions celebrating the book’s release with a visit to a Japanese bookstore and getting boba.

Homework assignment for agents (00:37:23)
When asked what homework assignment she would give agents to understand the writer’s perspective, the speaker suggests writing their own book, going through the writing and revision process, and experiencing feedback and rejection.


[00:00:00] Julie Kingsley: Welcome to the Manuscript Academy podcast, brought to you by a writer and an agent who both believe that education is key. 

[00:00:11] Jessica Sinsheimer: The beauty is the people you meet along the way, 

[00:00:14] Julie Kingsley: and that community makes all the difference. Here at the 

[00:00:18] Jessica Sinsheimer: Manuscript Academy, you can learn the skills, make the connections, and have access to experts all from home.

[00:00:26] Jessica Sinsheimer: I’m Julie Kingsley, and I’m Jessica Zinsheimer. 

[00:00:29] Julie Kingsley: Put down your pens. Pause your word counts and enjoy. 

[00:00:33] Jessica Sinsheimer: Hi, everyone. We are here with Monica Rodriguez, who is an agent at my agency. Monica, I’m so happy that you’re here. 

[00:00:40] Monica Rodriguez: Welcome. I’m so happy to be here. Tell us 

[00:00:43] Jessica Sinsheimer: about you, how you got started in publishing, and all the cool things you did before, because you have all this experience that a lot of agents 

[00:00:50] Monica Rodriguez: don’t have.

[00:00:51] Monica Rodriguez: Yeah, which is kind of a testament to there’s not really one path to publishing, which I always like to say. So I’m a junior agent at [00:01:00] Context Literary, where I’m also the director of brand management there. Basically, what that means is I help support the marketing plans of our authors at Context alongside my agenting, uh, but I’m also a writer.

[00:01:14] Monica Rodriguez: I think I I got into publishing because I fell in love with reading in elementary school. So this is like a predestined destiny. Had I known this is where I ended it up, probably not, but I fell in love in reading. I would go to the library every chance I got. Um, at my school, we had these like dog tags for reading.

[00:01:34] Monica Rodriguez: As like a competition with yourself, but I like wanted to collect all of them because I’m a, I say I read for sport because I like to devour books in that way. Uh, but then I kind of fell out of love of reading and then kind of got back into it as an adult, which sort of sparked my writing again, um, because I’m also a writer and I have an agent myself and I’m on submission with my debut YA rom com.

[00:01:58] Monica Rodriguez: So I wear a lot of [00:02:00] hats. But I think my path into publishing was further along into my career. I, uh, I got a public relations degree in college and worked in marketing and PR for over 10 years in advertising and different PR firms and different industries, and then worked in the travel industry for six years.

[00:02:22] Monica Rodriguez: And so a lot of the skills that I had, you know, learned along the way of my career as I was in the query trenches myself reminded me of my public relations days and pitching editors for projects and how much my color coded spreadsheets for my querying process was. exciting to me again, and I got curious about agenting along the way because I didn’t see enough Latinx agents out there.

[00:02:50] Monica Rodriguez: And it was really important to me to know that if I was eventually going to have a seat at the table, I wanted to keep pulling up chairs through the [00:03:00] querying process. I think I learned that even at that point, this is going to take a long time. And I don’t think my voice is the only voice that can carry this.

[00:03:09] Monica Rodriguez: Sort of story mission that I had. And so actually thanks to Jessica for tweeting about a opportunity at context, Jessica was one of the agents that I followed on Twitter. And I applied just to like scratch the itch and see what it was about. I met Tamar Radinsky, who’s a president of the agency.

[00:03:28] Monica Rodriguez: And she was looking for an internal marketing position. And because I. Saw Jessica’s tweet. I took a, I guess, calculated risk. It’s always scary to try something completely new at any level of your career. And now I’m here. 

[00:03:45] Julie Kingsley: I love that so much. But you know, I always think like the ripple effect of stories and books and like the network we have here in publishing.

[00:03:55] Julie Kingsley: And I love that, Jessica, you just put that out there and you’re like, yes. I mean, I’m curious about so [00:04:00] many things now that I’ve heard your bio. I’ve learned so much about you. I’m like, Oh my gosh. Well, one of the things that I think is really interesting, you’re writing YA, but it’s that you said you lost your love of reading after elementary school.

[00:04:11] Julie Kingsley: Why did you lose it? And then what are you, what is, Like, let’s not talk about your book since it’s kind of like out there and it’s like in process. But like, do you feel just with this whole like mission of where you’re going, like what, what made you not love reading in that gap? 

[00:04:30] Monica Rodriguez: Yeah, I think about this all the time.

[00:04:32] Monica Rodriguez: I’m a very healing. I call myself a healer within myself. And so sort of healing past versions of me. And I think realizing that at that age, I think specifically middle school, I was exposed to more creative outlets. Uh, like music, art, theater, and I’ve always been a very creative person. And so wanting to touch those other creative aspects of [00:05:00] myself was alluring.

[00:05:01] Monica Rodriguez: But also as I got older, a lot of times I felt like I was the only one still reading and it almost felt like I was the only kid at the library. Everyone else started having friends and like. Going to football games and basketball games. And I think in that young age of adolescence, when you’re sort of trying to navigate who you are, but also how to fit in reading became, this is isolating.

[00:05:26] Monica Rodriguez: No one else is doing this. And so let me go try to make friends another way because the friends in these pages. will always be there for me, but I don’t want to be left behind almost, I think. And so between middle school and high school, I didn’t really read that much. And I think I sort of pushed that out, that part of myself away for a really long time.

[00:05:51] Monica Rodriguez: And then when I got to college, uh, well in high school, I did write a lot. I was the editor in chief of my newspaper. I was out on the football field [00:06:00] taking photos. Like I was really like, into writing in a different form. And when I got to college, I ripped the rug under every creative possibility because I had to focus on getting a job.

[00:06:13] Monica Rodriguez: Like my college experience was very, it wasn’t a party atmosphere. It was very, I, I worked two jobs. Full time as a full time student. And so a lot of that sort of becoming an adult and preparing myself until the adult world happened at a very early age. But even so in the college experience, my goal was I better have a job when I get out of here because.

[00:06:36] Monica Rodriguez: I need money. And so it was a survival tactic. And when I finally got it into the real world and got in my first job in advertising at an advertising agency, later on, that was really difficult. Kind of that transition between school and working, uh, full time burning out really quickly and then transitioning into a client.

[00:06:59] Monica Rodriguez: facing role, [00:07:00] which in an agency, you either work at an agency for clients or in a client side facing role, you are the client and have an agency that sort of helps you do all sorts of marketing things. And so I switched over client side and worked in tourism for six years. And that job allowed me to kind of take a step back and I was like, Oh, I have time to take a lunch break.

[00:07:21] Monica Rodriguez: What do I want to do on my lunch break? Go get lunch. Like I actually had like an hour that. It was a state job, so it was, like, mandated that I had to, like, leave and go do something. And then that’s when I had the time to, like, for an hour a day, actually start thinking about things again, and that’s when I started writing again.

[00:07:38] Monica Rodriguez: And I started that by doing a blog that I call Find a Lovely Life that I still do. It’s kind of transitioned more into a social media first approach versus blogging, because I still have that sort of, like, Love hate relationship with writing, uh, personally about my personal life, but that sort of led [00:08:00] me into wanting to write maybe in that chapter in that of life that I missed out on so many books, because even as an adult, I started reading again and I read like a hundred books in a year.

[00:08:11] Monica Rodriguez: It was devouring. I was like, Oh my God, I’ve been so deprived. I love this so 

[00:08:16] Julie Kingsley: much. So it sounds like you’re at the place where, and I think this is really interesting. When we talk to writers and agents, I think. You hear these stories and you’re like, okay, you start with a passion and then we all meander to all these different places, but you’re in a space right now where you have everything you need.

[00:08:31] Julie Kingsley: You have a marketing background. You have, you know, education on both sides, agenting and writing and PR, you’re like a triple threat. I love that so much. So tell us, like, what are you currently looking for right now in your inbox? 

[00:08:46] Monica Rodriguez: So this year I was really excited to build my kid list and I opened up even to illustrators in picture books and graphic novel illustrator comic book artists as well.

[00:08:58] Monica Rodriguez: And most of my [00:09:00] client list right now is I have illustrators, graphic novelists, picture book authors, and three adult authors. And so I want to, I’m excited to kind of dig my teeth into more adult manuscripts next year. Anything in romance, sci fi, upmarket, speculative. I always say I tend to gravitate towards stories that are coming of age because I have like this unofficial TED talk that’s It’s called, there’s no such thing as coming of age YA, we’re always coming of age, uh, we’re always growing as human beings.

[00:09:36] Monica Rodriguez: I love messy characters, I think family dynamics in sibling relationships, because there’s no manual on how to deal with adult sibling relationships. And so, any sort of story that navigates that in any family setting, I also love first gen stories, I’m first gen myself, so anything that uplifts a perspective that’s not my own and that same identity, I [00:10:00] love reading about those stories as well, and anything set outside the U.

[00:10:04] Monica Rodriguez: S. I’ve spent a lot of my career in the tourism industry, and now I sort of have changed my relationship with travel, but a part of that is also traveling through books. So that’s what I’m looking for. 

[00:10:15] Jessica Sinsheimer: Can you give us a preview of that TED talk where you say coming of age does not exist in YA? 

[00:10:22] Monica Rodriguez: I, okay.

[00:10:25] Monica Rodriguez: Yeah, it’s unofficial because it’s in my head. So I think I have always been someone that’s been really self aware. And always wanting to grow and be the best version of myself that I can be. And I feel like society really judges the process of that. In terms of growth and healing is messy. It’s not linear.

[00:10:48] Monica Rodriguez: It can take ten years. It can take longer. Especially if you’re grieving things, not just people. Whether that’s… Life goals or new [00:11:00] chapters, there’s always a version of you that’s going to let go of something that you thought was going to be forever. And so sometimes when those things happen, they sort of align with milestone ages that our society has put this heavy weight on us to be a certain thing by X age.

[00:11:19] Monica Rodriguez: And so terms like midlife crisis. Or you can only like come of age when you’re in high school, like I have like beef with those terms because everybody’s timeline is different and it’s not fair to like just say, oh, they’re going through a midlife crisis. You don’t know what they’ve gone through their entire life.

[00:11:38] Monica Rodriguez: Like you don’t know that. And so I feel like in that same vein of empathy, if we all sort of. kept our eyes on our own painting in terms of when the timeline is right for us to grow in certain aspects of our life. We wouldn’t judge other people so much and their journey of healing because everybody’s growing at different paces, just like everybody’s [00:12:00] getting an agent at different times.

[00:12:01] Monica Rodriguez: Everybody’s finishing writing their first draft at different times. And so I think letting go or trying to let go of that need to be on the same timeline as everyone else. Will alleviate so much fear and stress and it’s not something I’ve perfected It’s still something I’m I constantly think about and compare myself to other people’s timelines as well so just knowing that or trying to be more of the in between is what I write about and my nonfiction sort of work with my blog of really showing the in between of growth and healing because Everyone just sort of like says, I’m healed, I love myself, but they don’t really talk about the messy, ugly part that has to happen and has to happen over and over again to get to that point, if ever.

[00:12:46] Monica Rodriguez: I love that 

[00:12:47] Julie Kingsley: so much. And I love the idea of coming of age as a writer. Like we don’t, people are like, am I too old to write? No. No. No. I think sometimes if you look at your life, you’d be like, Oh, I really [00:13:00] wish I was published during this time. But then when you look back on it, you’re like, Oh, that would have been really hard with all these other things you ended up having.

[00:13:07] Julie Kingsley: So I think it kind of just ends up working out the way it’s supposed to work out. 

[00:13:11] Monica Rodriguez: So, I 

[00:13:12] Jessica Sinsheimer: would like to know more about your color coded spreadsheets and all of the things that you learn while being both an agent and a writer. And where do you think people are missing the connection? Because I feel like people can sometimes imagine one side, sometimes imagine the other, but imagining how the two go together.

[00:13:30] Jessica Sinsheimer: I think most people miss 

[00:13:31] Monica Rodriguez: that. Yeah. So I’ve always been a color coded spreadsheet, girly and my queries actually opened it up. I haven’t looked at it for a while and I opened it up and it actually looks a lot like how my spreadsheets are with my own clients and so for. When I was in the querying trenches, I started out in batches.

[00:13:50] Monica Rodriguez: And so I tracked sort of the day that I sent the query, the possible when I was going to follow up, the certain rejection that I got. I tracked, you know, whether or [00:14:00] not I had like check boxes. I even had like a count on the side of how many I still had out, how many passes I had, how many R& Rs I had. And so I was It was a tracking spreadsheet and that just comes from like my public relations, but more so project management background of like, okay, I’m moving this as a project.

[00:14:20] Monica Rodriguez: How do I manage? And every time I get a pass from an agent, I would go and update my spreadsheet. I don’t know why, but I love this. red light, green light system. Red is pass. Yellow is maybe. And then green is, oh my god, I sent out 111 queries and was rejected 111 times. And one agent that was through an R& R offered me rep.

[00:14:47] Monica Rodriguez: So Lady Gaga was right. It only takes one yes. have the right vision for your book. And that’s something that I learned as a writer, which [00:15:00] really helps me as an agent, because I have seen both sides of it. You really want an agent that sees the vision of your book as much as you see it, but then asks. A question that makes it go a hundred miles.

[00:15:15] Monica Rodriguez: Again, I think once you sort of finish writing your book, gotten it to the best possible place that you can get it and you embark on this like query trenches process, there comes a time where you’re gonna get feedback and that feedback might be an instant rejection. It might be, uh, revise and resubmit, which.

[00:15:35] Monica Rodriguez: people call an R& R. And at that point, when you start getting feedback that can be constructive, you get to decide, do I want this story to follow this new path? Does that resonate with me? I got two R& Rs that didn’t really resonate with me. And it wasn’t until this. Other RNR was just asking a question.

[00:15:54] Monica Rodriguez: What if it took place here? And then it just opened up this entire [00:16:00] new project because I think throughout the query trenches, you sort of forget what you write and start to lose. Love for it a little bit, it’s kind of sad, but you just sort of feel like maybe it was just me that thought this was the best thing I’ve ever written in my life and I love it so much and it starts to feel like it starts to tarnish that excitement starts to tarnish along the way.

[00:16:23] Monica Rodriguez: And then someone will come and I think that’s what’s so important about the age. I always call the agent off the relationship sort of as a creative business partnership. So you want someone that it is a business partnership, but shares that creative vision and motivates you to continue having that creative vision.

[00:16:40] Monica Rodriguez: And so my spreadsheets with my clients look sort of the same where once we’re in a good place to kind of go out into the world and release their baby into submission. I have a shared Google spreadsheet with my clients where everything is organized by publisher and print who I’m going to send it out to [00:17:00] any notes.

[00:17:00] Monica Rodriguez: that I had, whether I met with the editor or I saw something on their manuscript wish list that I added on there. And then I have like a track of status. All right. I pitched it. They are out of office until X day. I follow it up on this day. And then another column that’s like next steps. This is what I’m going to do because as an agent, I believe if you want bad news.

[00:17:22] Monica Rodriguez: You get to decide when you look at the bad news. It doesn’t come from me necessarily. And so if you’re up at three in the morning wondering where your book is, you can look at the spreadsheet, find good news. Cause I always add a little Monica note to the past. Like, this, I don’t agree with this. I love it so much.

[00:17:40] Monica Rodriguez: We’re going to keep moving forward. So it’s like, don’t worry. It’s not like, nah, there’s a bad news. Move on. Sort of thing. But I update that as soon as I do anything and they know that it’s there and available to them. And that’s sort of my main way of… Keeping track of submissions. So it was a skill that I did for myself as a [00:18:00] writer in the query trenches and transferred that over to this is how we’re going to track this submission with editors, not agents in that scenario.

[00:18:08] Monica Rodriguez: I knew he was going to pop up eventually, but my dog has entered the chat.

[00:18:16] Monica Rodriguez: Yeah. So that’s one of the important things that I feel is. When choosing to work with an agent, because you still have authority over that. You get to decide, is this the best agent for me right now? Cause that might also change later in your career. I think another thing that I have learned as an agent that I didn’t fully understand as a writer in the query trenches was that a relationship with your agent might evolve and change and it.

[00:18:44] Monica Rodriguez: might not be with the same agent. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean, Oh my God, I have to start. It doesn’t mean you’re starting from square one. It’s that you’re getting redirected into your purpose. 

[00:18:56] Jessica Sinsheimer: I’d love to talk with you about the feedback that you get because [00:19:00] as an agent, you know that not every rejection makes sense.

[00:19:03] Jessica Sinsheimer: And as a writer, it’s hard to keep that in mind as you go through this. So can you tell us about that process and what writers should do if they’re like, I don’t know if I agree with this, but it’s an expert, so I should believe them, 

[00:19:15] Monica Rodriguez: right? Hmm. That’s a great question, because I think you kind of get to a certain point in your writing where you’re releasing this to someone that should be able to This is the key to, like, making my book the greatest thing in the next step of the evolution of it, right?

[00:19:34] Monica Rodriguez: Because I can say firsthand, the book that I wrote that I queried to my agent is a completely different book than the book that went out on submission. And that often happens, not in a bad way, but the point of entering into a business partnership with an agent is to be able to make the book great and champion it to make it even better.

[00:19:54] Monica Rodriguez: Because that’s why you entered the query trenches. You needed help to make the book better so that it could eventually [00:20:00] sell in the traditional pathway. I feel like the first bit of feedback that you might get from an agent, you might take it to heart because it’s the first time that you’re hearing anything of value and so you feel like, well, I’m not going to hear anything ever again.

[00:20:16] Monica Rodriguez: So I have to do it now or else this is like dead. And like, I don’t know, sometimes I kind of have that path of thinking where it’s like, if I don’t do this now, I’m never going to get that chance again. And my advice is to take that feedback and wait a little bit, see if it resonates with you. I think this industry is.

[00:20:36] Monica Rodriguez: still so speculative. Like I had an an R& R from an agent that talked about how they really wanted it to be more of a love triangle. And that was a trope that I was not, I did not resonate with that. That’s not what I was trying to do with the book. And so should I change it so that it is more appealing to a bigger audience?

[00:20:58] Monica Rodriguez: And I, I sat with that [00:21:00] a lot. Because I felt like, well, this is it. This is me selling. This is what it’s like. And I decided not to because like, I could write a love triangle story. Sure. But this one just wasn’t that. And I learned this from Jessica on the agenting side, which I wish I would have known as a writer is kind of waiting for like three or four data points.

[00:21:21] Monica Rodriguez: to gather and see, is this something that multiple sources in the speculative realm of feedback is resonating with more than one person? And if it is, then maybe I would have taken it a little bit more of a serious feedback in terms of. Maybe I do need to sit down and really think about the structure of these characters and their dynamics because it sounds like it could be better understood this way versus I don’t see them as a love triangle.

[00:21:53] Monica Rodriguez: This one agent does, do I really want to rewrite it? Is that excite me to dive [00:22:00] back into this? 60 plus K manuscript to rewrite the whole dynamic between these three. And if the answer, if it wasn’t a hell yes, then I didn’t do it. Versus if I got a feedback from an agent that said, what if this was set in a different time period?

[00:22:14] Monica Rodriguez: Or what if this was set in the, like taking setting, for example. That really excited me and that was a green flag that maybe I should think about this feedback a little bit more. And then in terms of, you know, you do sometimes get a lot of form responses and it doesn’t really feel like feedback. And that doesn’t mean that the agent didn’t read your query or your first time pages or your manuscript even if you get a full request.

[00:22:40] Monica Rodriguez: It just means that whatever the form is, I’m going to speak to my own because I, I don’t know what other agents. interpret that as. So for my former responses, it’s really important for me to have an editorial vision for your work. If I can’t think of a way to make this book better, I feel like there’s someone else [00:23:00] out there that will just have this like, wonderful strategy to just blossom this.

[00:23:05] Monica Rodriguez: book, and it’s not a rejection on your writing. It’s that I want to show up in this partnership as much as you’ve already done the work to create this world and this characters, and I want to be able to contribute to that to make it a bigger picture. If I feel like I don’t have the right vision to do that, I don’t think we’d be a great creative business partnership, just because I wouldn’t be pulling my weight.

[00:23:27] Monica Rodriguez: And I want to show up and pull my weight. And so I think that’s why I, if I say I don’t have the editorial vision to champion it, that’s what I mean. I didn’t, it’s not that I didn’t fall in love with it. Sometimes I have maybes in my full manuscript request and I’m like, Oh man, I’m going to buy this the minute it’s like, I would love to read this.

[00:23:46] Monica Rodriguez: As an agent and not creative business partnership mindset, I need to make sure that I can make it even better. And sometimes I can’t think of any ideas and I get so frustrated with myself. So I’m like, this is such a good book. Why can’t I think of anything to make it better? And [00:24:00] that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect because.

[00:24:01] Monica Rodriguez: I have not come across a perfect submission. There’s always something to be worked on at that level, even if it’s just pacing or structure and not necessarily character development. And so if I can’t think of it, and I sometimes I spend a long time really thinking about it, and then I have to let it go.

[00:24:18] Monica Rodriguez: And that breaks my heart too, because I might really love it, but I have to remind myself that it is a creative business partnership and this one sort of creative relationship that I have with writing through agenting. And sometimes 

[00:24:31] Jessica Sinsheimer: the delay for me is that I know there is one big skeleton key at it.

[00:24:37] Jessica Sinsheimer: Exactly. Like, set it in this other time period. I love that. It makes me almost want to make a board game that’s like, okay, what are you going to change? Setting. Okay. Roll the dice. All right. Your new setting is, which I think would be great fun. Let’s do that, Julie. Let’s have an event like that sometime. I think that me nauseous.

[00:24:52] Jessica Sinsheimer: Sorry. Um, so yeah, Monica, this is pretty much our process. I come up with awful ideas and Julie’s like, Dear God. [00:25:00] Um, anyway. Sounds like a great 

[00:25:03] Monica Rodriguez: board game they can buy. 

[00:25:07] Jessica Sinsheimer: Yes, that’s what we need, a board game manufacturing license. Um, anyway, so yeah, but sometimes the reason I don’t get back to a full request for a while is because I know there is that one big edit and if I just find it.

[00:25:21] Jessica Sinsheimer: everything will snap into place. But then there’s also the fact where it’s like, if we’re getting to like the six month mark, I can’t keep them waiting that long without feeling terrible. So it’s like, when do I just cut my losses and say no, sometimes confessing that I feel like it’s one edit away from figuring it out, but I don’t know what that answer is.

[00:25:39] Jessica Sinsheimer: Um, sometimes maybe 

[00:25:41] Julie Kingsley: it’s not. So this, I was thinking this. I’ve been traveling and I was at the airport and I was, I got really fascinated by the different outfits in the airport and the, the different way people roll, you know, and you know, as a, as a people watcher, I was like, it’s, it’s so interesting, right?

[00:25:57] Julie Kingsley: Like, like we are all in our bubbles [00:26:00] of points of view. Like, it doesn’t matter. We’re in our creative bubbles, we’re in our agency bubbles, we’re in our community bubbles. And like, sometimes we’re putting things out, out there to agents as writers with assumptions about who people are. And we see that at the Academy sometimes, you know, where people are like, I thought we’d vibe like a certain way and they’re disappointed that that didn’t happen.

[00:26:23] Julie Kingsley: And so I think that the submission process. It has to be a mix of, you know, like approximation, but also what I’m hearing from you is you were like, no, in my heart it was this, right? And sometimes I feel like, I mean, like writers can, they can start ping ponging in a project. This one wants this way. This one wants it.

[00:26:45] Julie Kingsley: This one wants it present tense. This one wants it past. This one wants you to go third. This one wants you to have it in like the Netherlands, but you’ve never been to the Netherlands. You know what I mean? And like. It’s so complicated. I wanna just go back to, I just feel from you, [00:27:00] Monica, that you have a great deal of empathy from being from both sides of the table.

[00:27:03] Julie Kingsley: Mm-hmm. , do you think there’s empathy gap in this whole process? Like what tips do you have for writers to make this process emotionally easier? 

[00:27:13] Monica Rodriguez: That’s a good question. I think because a lot of writing is so isolating. And it feels like you’re creating something, you know, so close to your heart in a lot of ways.

[00:27:27] Monica Rodriguez: I think all of us tend to write from the heart mostly, um, especially when it’s that first project, you’re sort of preparing to kind of share with the world and that sort of agent author relationship way. Uh, because everyone says, Write what you love, and I, I stand by that. I think reminding yourself of your why, that why you’re writing this, like, you reminded me, like, 20 minutes ago of, you know, if I’m writing this for the middle school, young adult, me that lost a part [00:28:00] of herself for so long for peer pressure, for new creative ideas, for whatever the reasons were.

[00:28:05] Monica Rodriguez: I think the empathy comes with reconnecting with Who you’re writing this for. And most of the time, subconsciously it is for some version of yourself that needs that sort of cathartic healing through your writing. So 

[00:28:16] Julie Kingsley: interesting. That’s what I thought you were going to say. When I asked you that question, I thought you were like, yeah, I was filling in for that girl that lost reading.

[00:28:22] Julie Kingsley: And then I was like, so many other interesting things that I think created who you are, which is all 

[00:28:27] Monica Rodriguez: really interesting. Yeah, I mean, I think maybe subconsciously I knew, but it wasn’t until, I think that’s what therapy is, right? It wasn’t until someone says it back to you that you’re just like, wait a minute, that is so important.

[00:28:40] Monica Rodriguez: Because I think, even as a writer, there’s a certain point in, whether it’s in the query trenches, whether it’s after you’ve gotten an agent and you’re on sub and you haven’t heard back, where you start to question, is this really what I’m meant to be writing? Because for some reason it doesn’t seem to be aligning, right?

[00:28:57] Monica Rodriguez: And, uh, one of the things that I think the [00:29:00] industry has taught me is the definition of time being relative and the value of patience and what that actually means in practice and not just by saying, Oh, publishing takes forever. Sort of thing and trying to really find that sort of human empathy connection back to why I’m doing this.

[00:29:20] Monica Rodriguez: I think agents wear a lot of hats and we’re spending a lot of plates and a lot of us have to have multiple jobs just to keep doing this one job that we love. Because financially the structure and most agencies are a commission only and so it really takes a toll on the agenting side of things, trying to balance everything and still have empathy to take on projects that we have to absolutely love because we are not sure when we’re going to make any money out of this.

[00:29:51] Monica Rodriguez: Project and not saying that that’s what we’re doing it for. We all have to make money somehow. We all have to eat, right? Yeah. And [00:30:00] so to really choose to do this profession, knowing that there’s small victories and milestones to celebrate in between, but knowing that. There’s a lot of questions we have to ask ourselves to see if this is something that we can also continue to take on while balancing, growing our career, while supporting our current clients, while making sure I’m able to give a hundred percent to this project.

[00:30:26] Monica Rodriguez: That I want to bring on again as, as a new project on my plate as well. And that also has a lot of factors into, depending on what season you’re in, what year of an agent you’re in, maybe all your books are coming out this year. And so you might not have a lot of time. You have to sort of tip the scales of time management a little bit more this year versus last year.

[00:30:49] Monica Rodriguez: And so I think when it comes to rejections from agents. Empathy on both sides, knowing that there are a lot of agents out there that might really love something or [00:31:00] give feedback, as quick feedback as they can. And maybe some give a little bit more feedback than others. And everybody’s different in terms of what they can handle and giving feedback for, but reminding yourself as a writer of your why and turning on the empathy there, but also reminding yourself that you’re looking for that.

[00:31:18] Monica Rodriguez: Partnership that is not going to lower your empathy, but raise your empathy even more and meet you at the level that you have your full cup, right? So if me as an agent, I’m not able to take on any more clients for whatever reason, I might not be able to get to my query inbox as quickly, but I still want to have my queries open because I don’t want to close necessarily.

[00:31:40] Monica Rodriguez: There might be a day in the month where I finally have time to get into it. And I want. I think that’s the hunger part of being an agent, right? We want to discover new stories. We love new stories. And so, I think putting the pressure as a writer of controlling the timing of when that’s gonna happen, you’re competing [00:32:00] against however many agents you queried.

[00:32:01] Monica Rodriguez: I queried a hundred. A hundred different agents. Different perception of time management, life stage, career stage. So there’s so many unknown variables and like into the unknown. And I think that’s one of the things I’ve sort of learned about this industry too, is. Reframing rejection as protection and redirection for your work.

[00:32:25] Monica Rodriguez: And that’s scary because there’s a lot of trust in the unknown when you frame it like that, which can feel even more scary than just fearing rejection itself, because I know I’m going to get rejected. I’m just afraid of that thing versus I’m afraid of, I have no idea what’s going to happen. That’s a scarier fear, right?

[00:32:44] Monica Rodriguez: But if you focus on your love for your craft, the alignment will eventually find you. You just have to release the control of that timing, which I’m still working on. Why don’t you tell us about Stephanie and Daigo? Oh, yes. So I actually have a funny story. [00:33:00] Uh, Stephanie and Daigo, it’s funny because when I first start my first year of agenting, I mean, I think the imposter syndrome I’m learning never leaves.

[00:33:09] Monica Rodriguez: But it was very much so of, I told myself, I don’t think I could sign a duo author combo my first year. That just seems like, like level five agenting thing. And I don’t know if I can do graphic novels. I don’t even know how to, I don’t even know how to write a graphic novel. How am I supposed to help these?

[00:33:28] Monica Rodriguez: Two wonderful co creators with their project. And so Stephanie was the one, Stephanie Facuda. I did end up signing them. Stephanie was the one that queried me first. I actually passed because as an agent, I just didn’t feel like I could. The imposter syndrome was really heavy on me. It was. It’s still my first year agenting.

[00:33:53] Monica Rodriguez: She came back and I’m not saying to do this, but I asked her, you know, if you have other, they queried me with a Webtoon [00:34:00] comic series and Webtoon is sort of like an online platform where comic artists can post their serial comics. And so I love the Webtoon comic and I asked if they had any other ideas that hadn’t been published yet.

[00:34:13] Monica Rodriguez: And they came up with three proposals and I call them my original comeback kids. Because they came back with more and they were eager and hungry. And I loved all their ideas. And the one that we ended up going on sub with, uh, was called president of the anime club, which was my first sale as an agent. So I ended up signing a.

[00:34:34] Monica Rodriguez: Co creator author duo and selling my first graphic novel. And that defined to me that whatever scares me, I need to say yes to, because it’s gonna push me and motivate me further and tying it back to all my marketing and advertising experience. A lot of my job was creatives. And so even that skill kind of was resurrected a little bit when I was working with [00:35:00] graphic novel artists.

[00:35:00] Monica Rodriguez: Like, Oh, I know how to do this. I did this with advertisements. I did this with website. I did this with a different form of creative. It was just a different medium. And so I have this thing with my clients where I only call them with good news. Otherwise our communication is via email or that.

[00:35:14] Monica Rodriguez: Spreadsheet I mentioned earlier, and so I was so excited to call my clients for the first time. Uh, and it turns out that they stayed up late playing the new Zelda game. And so I had to wait for them to wake up and call me back. And I had, was sitting on this good news for like six hours. And so, yeah, they finally called me back.

[00:35:32] Monica Rodriguez: That is literally 

[00:35:33] Julie Kingsley: the, the most, right? Like I was up playing Zelda, 

[00:35:42] Monica Rodriguez: anime, yeah. Yeah, they’re, it’s literally like, they recently got married and it’s just been this, it’s been a great year for them. Uh, I went to a Kinokuniya, which is a Japanese bookstore and got some boba to celebrate because that’s what happens in the novel, in the graphic novel [00:36:00] with the characters.

[00:36:01] Monica Rodriguez: So I think that’s a new tradition I’m always going to do is something celebratory that honors the characters in every book. Oh, I love that. So, but yeah, they’re great. So that book is coming out. Talking about patients and timing and publishing it’s coming out 2027. So it’s. It’s a book by First Second, which is an imprint of Macmillan and yeah, we’re all really excited about it.

[00:36:24] Monica Rodriguez: We’re still, I think there’s still, we’re still celebrating, but yeah, there, it’s a testament to, I think even taking it as in the writer’s perspective, you know, if an agent asks you to see something else specifically. In Illustrator or even Graphic Novelist, um, since that’s sort of sold by proposal and it’s not a full manuscript, there’s art involved, um, so it takes longer to publish because they have to draw like 300 pages, uh, of a full book, fully rendered.

[00:36:54] Monica Rodriguez: Yeah, that’s, that’s the story of Stephanie and Daigo, my, my first sale, who [00:37:00] are my original comeback kids. Sounds like a screenplay. 

[00:37:02] Julie Kingsley: I love it. 

[00:37:04] Jessica Sinsheimer: So I’ve said for years. that we should make agents send out fake projects, get rejected, and see that even when it’s something you don’t even care about, it 

[00:37:14] Monica Rodriguez: still hurts.

[00:37:15] Jessica Sinsheimer: So if you came up with a homework assignment for agents, what would it be so that we could see what it’s like from the writer’s side of the desk? 

[00:37:24] Monica Rodriguez: I would say write your own book, not a fake book, because I think, I feel like that was my path to agenting, and that’s why I feel it has. It’s elevated my empathy for writers so much, and even when I work with my clients in the editorial process, I know, you’re not going to write every day, it’s okay, I’m not going to put a deadline on you, it’s okay, unless you need me to, like I will, but I get it.

[00:37:46] Monica Rodriguez: I think as agents. It’s sitting down and even if it’s one part of the process as a writer, so like outlining the book, writing the first draft, which good luck. [00:38:00] And then revising the book yourself, taking that through a beta reader phase. And seeing what that feels like, not always positive feedback or experiences.

[00:38:10] Monica Rodriguez: Yeah. 

[00:38:10] Jessica Sinsheimer: Can one of them be like that guy in your MFA who’s just like, this is wrong and bad. I am perfect. 

[00:38:17] Monica Rodriguez: Uh, and then the next step is putting together a query submission list. Which I think that is mostly related to what skill set agents do for their authors and editorial in that editorial submission process.

[00:38:30] Monica Rodriguez: So that’s not as far off. It’s like a new thing of like empathy. And I also feel like as agents, we get rejected all the time for our clients work. So, and that rejection hurts me more than getting rejected in my own work. Like if my agent sends me a rejection from an editor, I’m like, Oh, okay. That’s fine.

[00:38:48] Monica Rodriguez: But if I got a rejection from an editor for my client’s work, I’ve cried before. Like, it just hurts me more because I have to update the spreadsheet. Or maybe it was like an editor they [00:39:00] were really, really hoping would be a yes. And that rejection hurts me more than being rejected for my own work. I don’t know why.

[00:39:08] Monica Rodriguez: It’s just like, ah, cool. Okay. I’m so numb to it, I guess. And that might not be a good thing, but it’s gonna make the yes feel so much better. Well, I can feel anything by then. I think that’s 

[00:39:22] Jessica Sinsheimer: useful for writers to hear, because, you know, they hear a lot, like, oh, we get rejected, too. But to hear that it hurts more than your own writer 

[00:39:30] Monica Rodriguez: rejections.

[00:39:31] Monica Rodriguez: To me. It does to me. I have to go take a walk before I even do anything, and just, like, really sit with it. Because. It’s just really, it’s another unofficial TED talk of mine is there’s no such thing as a finish line. Like every single door you think you get to, it’s great to celebrate those milestones because that’s what keeps you going in this industry.

[00:39:51] Monica Rodriguez: But I think Julie, to your point earlier, like you can start writing whenever you want because the profession of writing is not a [00:40:00] profession. It’s who you are. And so whether that’s. That was so strong when you were younger, and you just really loved doing it for fun when you were younger, and it kind of keeps whispering back to you to come back to it.

[00:40:13] Monica Rodriguez: It’s a part of you, and so it’s not something that you can just stop doing. It might look different, like, I wrote a social media copy for years, and that was… It’s not the same love I’ve had for writing a novel, but I think it’s just who you are as a person and falling in love with that version of yourself again is really beautiful however many times that needs to happen throughout your life.

[00:40:38] Monica Rodriguez: That’s just, 

[00:40:38] Julie Kingsley: that’s the perfect way to think about it all. Um, where can we find 

[00:40:42] Monica Rodriguez: you online? Uh, you can find me at lovelymonica, which is L O V E L E E M O N I C A A. Or if you are into more of that self healing nonfiction writing stuff I mentioned, you can find me [00:41:00] at findalovelylife. com. 

[00:41:02] Jessica Sinsheimer: And you’re open for meetings with us.

[00:41:04] Jessica Sinsheimer: I think you still have a few left for October. Thank you, Monica. Thank you so much for being here. Have a good rest of your day. Thanks so much. 

[00:41:10] Monica Rodriguez: Bye. 

[00:41:12] Julie Kingsley: We are so glad that you joined us. And as always, we appreciate your feedback. Just head on over to the iTunes store and let us know what you think. And not only helps us make this podcast be the best it can be, but also affects our ratings within the iTunes 

[00:41:26] Jessica Sinsheimer: platform.

[00:41:27] Jessica Sinsheimer: We’d love to hear from you. If you’re feeling brave and want to submit your page for our First Pages podcast, you can send it to academy at manuscriptwishlist. com with First Pages podcast. In the subject line, we’d also just love to hear from you, 

[00:41:43] Julie Kingsley: and if you’d like to learn more about the Manuscript Academy and everything we have to offer, just jump on over to manuscript

Featured On the Show:

The Manuscript Academy Podcast is free for everyone, and features interviews with top agents, editors and authors on the craft, business, and community of publishing.

You can find us in the iTunes Store, on Soundcloud, and on Spotify.

The Manuscript Academy Podcast is published weekly. Subscribe to see all of our episodes first.