I was delighted when my dear friend (and query support group aka Llamasquad member) Megan Lynch recently found her agent, Moe Ferrara of BookEnds! As she was fresh from the query trenches, I wanted to reflect on her time there. Below, you’ll find some great insight on her querying experience as well as her time being printed by a small press. Read on and meet my friend Megan!!
Hi Megan! Can you give us a short pitch for the book that got you your agent?
ML: Sure! A DANCE OF THE DEAD is a spooky upper middle grade ghost story about Landry, the daughter of the American ambassador to Ireland. When she accidentally summons the spirit of two Victorian-era boys with an antique violin, she’ll have to give them the help they seek…or else join them, trapped in a strange dimension.
Can you tell us a little bit about your querying journey?
ML: I queried my first book, Unregistered, back in 2016. I had no writing community, thin skin, and nonsense of what was normal, so I only queried about ten agents. I saw an interesting #mswl tweet from Amanda Roberts, an acquiring editor at a small press, and saw that she’d lived in China, like I had. Since a large part of my world-building for that book had been based on my experiences there, I thought we’d be a good fit, and we were. City Owl Press published Unregistered, in 2017, and then the rest of my trilogy, Unafraid and Undone in the following two years.
I loved my small press, but I was interested in publishing books for kids with a bit more visibility, so I queried another YA book in the fall of 2018, writing another while I queried that one. My YA didn’t get an offer, but the book I wrote while I was querying it got an offer from one of my top choices of agencies in the summer of 2019.
Do you have any advice for authors in the query trenches?
ML: All writers and their books are so different, but what really helped me was to connect with a group of ambitious but friendly querying writers. When you’re at similar points in your career and have similar strengths, it can be life-changing and can really give the energy you need to keep going. It’s also helpful to see just how common rejection really is.
You have some books published through City Owl Press, but this time, you’ve chosen to seek representation with an agent. Can you tell us about your experiences with small presses?
ML: There are a lot of misconceptions out there about publishing with small presses, which is understandable, since there’s no manual for this kind of thing. Small presses aren’t always the same as “indie publishing;” it’s more of a space between indie and traditional. I think lots of people see I wasn’t with a Big Five publisher and assume I went with a vanity press or self-published, but that’s giving me way too much credit. Lots of small presses, mine included, arrange publicity, submit books for trade reviews, work with large distributors, and bring authors to sign books at industry conferences. I loved my experience with City Owl, and I really appreciated having a few years to learn about the industry. I also got really lucky that I signed with them in their early years; they’ve grown a lot and exclusively take agented submissions now.
Why did you decide to go the traditional route this time?
ML: I wanted a partner I could work with more closely to shape my career and I wanted to write books for kids. One of my goals is to someday be included in the Scholastic Book Fair—I lived for that week when I was a kid.
Favorite book you’ve read recently?
ML: As far as kidlit goes, I really love CITY OF GHOSTS by Victoria Schwab. I also enjoyed RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston, and since personal development books are my favorite non-fiction books to read, I have to include ATOMIC HABITS by James clear.
ML: I’m a Kentucky girl who was a fish out of water at her private college, so I always love the “poor girl dresses up fancy for a ball and is unmasked in front of eVeRyOnE, including the love interest.” Gets me every time.
Was there a time in Queryland where you felt hopeless? What kept you from giving up?
ML: Many times. Encouragement from writer friends (hi, Cat! Hi, Llamas!) is what changed everything.
What inspires you?
So much! Recently I’ve been meditating on a thought by Brian Tracey. It seems simple, but it’s profound if ever you have seen how hard work can transform your life: I am responsible, nothing changes unless I change.
What is your author dream? Doing a signing at a convention, fanart, a movie adaptation, cosplay?
Besides the Scholastic book fair? Fan letters from kids, kids dressing up like my characters on “dress like a character from a book” day at school, school visits, more writers workshops.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a writer?
From Neil Gaiman: write or do nothing. Only those options when you sit down to write.
I’ve read that you want to raise your sons to be intersectional feminists. How do you incorporate feminism in your writing, especially your works aimed at kids?
One of my favorite things to communicate with writing is this: How our society is set up is not how it must be set up. I love introducing new social systems to challenge patriarchal worldviews, as well as characters who exist in patriarchal systems such as ours but don’t conform to it. In CHILDREN OF THE UPRISING, Samara, an under-educated woman, works to become a political scientist to outsmart the First Minister, another woman. I was determined not to code either of them as masculine so I could make the point that work ethic, cleverness, and strength of will are neither feminine nor masculine qualities: we all have the potential for each of these and more inside of us. However, in DANCE, feminist standards are quieter, but still present: it’s not Landry’s mother who is the stay-at-home parent, but her father. I think small distinctions like that can do a lot for kids who are forming impressions of gender roles and thinking about what is possible for all human beings.
Megan, thank you so much for your time and thoughts!
If you’d like to know more about Megan, you should follow her on Twitter over here, and consider checking out her books at the link below her bio down here!
Megan Lynch is the author of speculative fiction novels for YA and MG readers, including the CHILDREN OF THE UPRISING trilogy (City Owl Press). She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two tiny inclusive feminist boys. She is represented by Moe Ferrara of Bookends Literary Agency.
Buy UNREGISTERED, the first book in her CHILDREN OF THE UPRISING trilogy here! https://www.amazon.com/Unregistered-Children-Uprising-Book-1-ebook/dp/B074CR3L3K