Query.Sign.Submit.Debut! with Wendy McLeod MacKnight

Wendy McLeod MacKnight Author It's a Mystery Pig Face

Wendy is a middle grade author and her debut, It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!, is now  available from Sky Pony Press! She is represented by LKG Agency.

Pig face AmazonConnect with Wendy . . .

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Amazon.com * Amazon.ca * Chapters.ca * Barnes and Noble * Indiebound


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What advice would you give to querying writers?

This one is painful for me because it’s something I did, but here goes: are you sure you’re ready to query? Is your book as good as it can be, your query as tight as it can be, your first ten pages or three chapters the best they can be? For so many of us, despite the research we do in advance of querying, we aren’t quite ready. I’d say that at least the first ten agents I queried have lost minutes off their lives that they can never get back! And honestly, if you’d asked me the question point blank, I would have said “Well, it could be better, anything can be better, right?” If you have that thought in your head, do not hit send! Work some more, get another pair of eyes on it until you can honestly say “This is the best I can do at this point.” Once you can do that, hit send.

How did you keep track of your queries?

With my trusty excel spreadsheet. Every now and then I go back and look at it, so I can remain grateful and humble.

What was your method for querying? Small batches? Query widely? Wait for feedback?

I think I did five to ten at a time. If I received feedback with my rejection, I was giddy. It felt like I’d met a traveller on the road who’d whispered “You might want to try this.” Then I’d revise, and try again. Finally, by the last batch of ten I knew I had hit the sweet spot, I think almost all of them wanted to see the full manuscript.

What do you wish you’d known back when you were in the query trenches?

That I was always an author, even then. Unpublished mind you, but still an author. And it only takes one yes to change everything.


Are there any specific questions you’d suggest writers ask an offering agent during “The Call”?

Mostly I wanted to know was why they loved the book, what changes they thought were required before submission, and whether or not they were an editorial agent.

What was the week surrounding your offer(s) of representation like for you?

Kind of surreal. I was now in the forties in terms of agents I’d submitted to, and suddenly forty-six, forty-seven and forty-nine were interested. I share those numbers because I want your readers to know that some of us soar, some of us slog. I was in the latter camp, but it doesn’t matter so long as you get there in the end!

How did you know your agent was the right one for you?

This isn’t my first rodeo. I knew the work would be hard and potentially heartbreaking and potentially thrilling. I wanted someone who not only liked the book, but who was funny and interesting and wise. I got all three with my agent Lauren Galit of LKG Agency. When we drifted off-topic and began discussing the Marvel Universe I knew she was for me.

Once a writer has signed with an agent, what’s the next step?

That’s when the work really begins. She loved the book but had all kinds of suggestions about how we could make it better. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work!

At what point do you share new story ideas with your agent?

Nowadays, as soon as I think of them! I find it a lot easier to write a synopsis and debate and then send a few sample chapters after. I didn’t on a project I worked on last year, and I think I could have saved myself a lot of time and heartache if I had!


What is a typical first round like once a writer goes on submission?

My agent shares who she’s submitting to and why, and then we see who’s interested. My experience is that a bunch of people drop out quickly and the rest wait until the very last minute, usually waiting until someone else has expressed some interest!

Do you see the feedback from editors?

My agent shares all of the feedback, which is awesomely painful

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

Write, although I don’t always follow that advice. I don’t write every day; often I am doing research or plotting. And sometimes you will catch me doing a major houseclean after neglecting the house for so long!

How much contact do you have with your agent when you are out on submission?

Um, I TRY not to bug her. Really, I do try. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Can you check in with your agent if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

Absolutely! My agent is the most responsive person I know! She is remarkable that way.

Did you know there was interest in the book before you got an offer or was it a surprise?

No – my agent always keeps me in the loop!

How did you celebrate when you got the news about your book deal?

Champagne – always!


What is the best thing about being a debut author?

Besides getting to know other debut authors, which has been a joy, the best thing is the newness. I kind of feel like Bambi right now; I don’t know what I don’t know. I will no doubt regret that later, but sometimes I just revel in the newness of it all! I have yet to become jaded and hope I never will be!

What else are you working on along with all the promotion?

I’ve recently sold another book, so I’ll start editing that soon, and am working on some ideas so I can start writing book #3.

What special things do you get to be a part of as a 2016 debut author?

The Sweet 16 debut group (and the Swanky Seventeens as my pub date is now Feb 7th, 2017) which is a group of authors debuting MG and YA books this year.

What other 2016 debut books have you gotten to read? Did you get to read them early?

I’ve read a bunch early, but I’ll focus on MG lit: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin, Fenway and Hattie by Victoria Coe, My 7th Grade in Tights by Brooks Benjamin, a certain BFF Bucket List novel, An Adventurers Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White, Monsterville by Sarah S. Reida. Oh I’m just hitting the tip of the iceberg! I can’t name them all but truly, they were all wonderful!

Is there a lot of support among debut authors?

People are amazing, whether it’s answering questions or just being emotionally supportive!

Have you done any conferences, book festivals, or events as an author? What was it like?

I presented at the Canadian Writer’s Summit in June and it was so much fun to talk about the book!

What was it like to see your cover?

Amazing. Honestly, it was exactly like I pictured it! My editor Alison Weiss did an amazing job!

What advice would you give to writers who are working hard to get to their own debut year?

Keep at it. If you work hard, are tenacious, and read the best books written in your genre, you’ll get there, too!

Thank you, Wendy!

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