Rebecca Matte (she/her) works as a Literary Agent & Contract Manager at Bradford Literary Agency. Prior to joining Bradford, she worked as an assistant to Executive Agent Laura Rennert at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, where she provided editorial and contract support for a wide array of books across genre and age range. Rebecca began her professional life as an IP and contracts lawyer for several prominent law firms in New York City, and currently serves as a Settlement Officer for the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. In 2020, Rebecca founded her own practices, Matter Services LLC, to provide lower-cost, accessible legal advice and contract review services. She lives in Brooklyn with her sassy, senior Yorkie, Pike.
What was your path to becoming an agent?
I had a quite unconventional path, I think. I worked as a lawyer in big firms for about six years until COVID. After being furloughed with much of the country, I started to expand my employment horizons a bit, both to keep my unemployment insurance and to make a change in my quality of life. At the time, I was also a querying author; I spent about five years querying a contemporary romance. Despite little success on that front, it gave me a working knowledge of the publishing industry and put agenting on my radar. I think I would have tried to go into publishing straight from college had I not graduated into the Great Recession, and 2020 gave me a second opportunity to go for it. I leveraged my legal background and contracts knowledge while emailing with agency heads, and was lucky enough to be offered a position a few months later.
What about a manuscript moves you to want to represent the author/book?
A manuscript with compelling characters and stakes will always capture my heart. I am drawn first and foremost to excellent characters with relatable conflicts and flaws, and I love to see how they interact with others and with the world around them. I consistently love narratives of self discovery, particularly those that involve characters who learn to advocate for themselves against other people or against societal expectations, pretty much within any context. I can almost always find a way to work with plot, setting, worldbuilding, or voice; but first I have to find a compelling character for whom I cannot help but root for and invest deeply in the stakes of their conflict. And then, finding out that the author has a personal connection to the book, or has reflected their own personal experience or marginalized identity onto the page, motivates me even more to offer representation.
Three tips for authors on the journey to publication:
First, and most importantly, I would say that you should network, and form a community of other authors. Networking sounds scary but can be as simple as reaching out and supporting other aspiring and published authors online. There are so many challenges in querying, submission, and debuting, that other people in your shoes are absolutely necessary for maintaining positivity & sanity. Second, I would recommend patience. Every single step of the process is longer than it should be, and gives less gratifying feedback than you might hope. But with clear vision and patience, it is absolutely achievable. And third, definitely know your worth and advocate for it. Lots of people at every stage are going to tell you what they think you should do or what they think about your work, and it is important to understand your own priorities and the lines you will and will not cross. Don't sacrifice your vision at the whims of others, or the success won't be meaningful. Don't sign with just any agent; no agent is better than a bad agent. Find your people (agent, editor, beta readers), listen to their feedback, but always make sure to ask for what you want.
What's on your manuscript wish list?
I represent YA & Adult sci fi/fantasy and romance, and am always looking for manuscripts in which those two genres overlap. In particular, I am a sucker for strong friendships, queer stories, nerdy characters who deep dive into niche hobbies, and stories that feature protagonists living with disability. World wise, I absolutely love to see our world infused by magic, and examining how those changes illuminate and effect the status quo. And, it turns out, that I gravitate to stories of collective action and allyship among marginalized people that can topple entrenched power structures.
If your manuscript seems like a match for Rebecca, you can query her for the month of October: https://QueryManager.com/RMatte