Guest Post by Mindy McGinnis: Quality Time in the Query Quagmire

Today I have the fabulous Mindy McGinnis stopping by the blog. Mindy is a YA writer, repped by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary Services. She also serves as a moderator at Agent Query Connect. This lady knows what she's talking about! Thanks for being here, Mindy!

So the query process kinda sucks, right?

I’d have to say, yes. And I mean say it in the same tone you use to sound your barbaric YAWP. There are plenty of overnight success stories out there, but the majority of us don’t fall into that category. Some of us even fall farther to the left of that category. And then there’s me. I’m somewhere past the guy with the big stick on the evolutionary scale of query process.

At least I was ten years ago. I’m agented now so I can laugh at Mindy-That-Was and her decade of failure, but it’s the kind of laugh that makes your trachea bleed.

Mindy-That-Was made very basic mistakes. Mistakes that Mindy-That-Is wants you to avoid. Namely – don’t assume that you are so God Awfully Talented that you don’t need to do your research.

Yes, research sucks. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it’s not what you had in mind when you decided to be a writer. But it’s what you need to do if you want to become one.

If you want to land an agent you need to know if they rep your genre, (hint – first know what your genre is), if they’re open to queries, and what to send to them.

Some agents want your query. Some want your query and sample pages. Some want your query, sample pages and a (DAMMIT) synopsis. (Hint – don’t do what Mindy-That-Was did and try to slide the query and sample pages past them without including a synopsis. You’ll get an email back asking for that synopsis, then you’ll write one like mad and send it off. And uh, it’ll suck.)

Do your research my friends. There are plenty of resources out there to help you find the answers, and you don’t have to buy a copy of Writer’s Market like Mindy-That-Was did. They’re free, and they’re online. In fact, you can go there right now.

Sites like AgentQuery Connect and QueryTracker were both instrumental to my success. AQC (where I also serve as a site moderator under the screenname bigblackcat97) is a resource and forum. We’re a welcoming community, so stop by. QueryTracker will track your hits and misses for free, but I highly advise dropping the cash for the one-year membership. It’s worth a hell of a lot more than they charge for it.

Also be sure to hit up the websites of agents, or their agencies. Individual submission preferences are usually listed there, along with specific info about what the agent is currently looking for. Agent blogs are a must. Does someone sounds like a good fit just because they rep your genre? Or because you read their blog and now you think you’re probably related? (Hint – don’t actually say that in a query. It makes you sound creepy).

There’s a multitude of resources out there to get that query in shape and into the hands of the right people.

What isn’t there? An excuse.

Want more from Mindy? She can be found on her blog or on Twitter.