Thursday, June 7, 2012

Literary Circles: Blogger Interview with Matt MacNish!

Today’s interview is with Matthew MacNish. MacNish is a writer and blogger for YA Confidential, Project Mayhem, Afterglow Book Reviews and his own blog, The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment. Among his posts for The QQQE, which focus on the path to publication, MacNish posts a weekly query for open critique and then offers a critique himself. He is a strong advocate for all writers and a talented writer himself. MacNish’s first post for The QQQE can be found here. And just because I love it, his first and recent post for YA Confidential can be found here.
Can you tell us a little about your blog’s concept and what inspired you to start The QQQE?
Well, this is kind of funny, but I actually first decided to start blogging after seeing that blogging movie, Julie and Julia. Cheesy, I know, but I was so frustrated with the query process and the path to publication at the time. I was ready to give up. So I decided to start a blog and share the mistakes I’d made so that other aspiring writers just starting out could learn from them and avoid making the same ones.

From there, as I was exposed to and “met” more talented writers online, my writing improved, and I learned more about queries. I started to feature examples of successful queries. That evolved into me featuring the critiques you mentioned above.

I read that you wanted to wait to query your recent YA Rural Fantasy, WARRIOR-MONKS, after exceeding 1000 followers on your blog. Other than having a strong concept and writing interesting posts, what networking strategies did you use to build the lit community surrounding your blog?
Well, that was really kind of an arbitrary personal goal. Fun for me, but not really crucial to the submission process. Mainly, I was still revising the novel, cutting, cutting, cutting … because it was too long, so waiting for the followers to come gave me time to finish.

As far as making a real world difference, it’s unlikely. I mean agents are glad to see a strong online presence as a bonus, but a popular blog is not going to sell a bad book any more than a great query will. The writing and the story will always have to stand on their own.

As far as networking strategies, I really don’t have a magic bullet. Building a blog following takes a lot of work. The most important part is reading a lot of blogs, following a lot of blogs, and commenting on a lot of blogs. There are a few obvious things you can do, like joining blogfests, A to Z in particular, and poaching commenters from your friend’s blogs, but if I had to say one thing that was key to my own success, I think it has to do with the fact that my blog offers actual concrete help to other bloggers. Being selfless, and paying it forward, seems to bring a lot of traffic.

How do you feel blogging has benefitted your writing?
For me there’s no question. The act of blogging itself does not affect my creative writing much, because the processes are so different. But the results of blogging -  mainly connecting with other writers, learning how to critique their work, and have yours critiqued without letting it destroy your love of the craft - those things have been invaluable.

In addition to writing and blogging, you are also a Tech Support Coordinator and a father of two girls (MacNish has encouraged his middle school and high school daughters to start blogs of their own. As a middle school English teacher, I love seeing that!) How do you fit it all in? What’s your time management secret?
Well, first of all, the biggest secret I have is that I work in a job (managing an international account) in which I have to get to work very early (6 AM).  So even though I’m here in case the phone rings, my responsibilities don’t really pick up for a few hours. That gives me time to write my own post (yes, I almost always write them the morning of) and then visit blogs for an hour or two.

Other than that, it’s very difficult to get as much writing done as I would like to. I get most of my drafting done on weekends, and I try to revise during the week. But driving kids, making dinner, walking the dog, working out … it all adds up.

You are an avid blog reader. I think I read that you visit between 50-100 blogs daily. What is one of your favorite blogs? What makes it one of your favorites?
In the beginning, I really did visit that many blogs. And during April, for A to Z, I stepped up back up to that level, but most days it’s more like 25-50, and I know that still sounds crazy to some.

Here’s the thing, though: I do it because I enjoy it. I’ve made some great friends, blogging, many who I’ve now met in real life, and it really has made a huge difference in my writing career and life. I don’t think I’ll ever stop, but I have had to dial back in order to focus on other things.

My advice to others would be visit who you can, visit those who visit you, but only do it because you enjoy it. I know visiting a lot of blogs can build a following, but we can’t all be Alex J. Cavanaugh! Not that he doesn’t enjoy it, Alex is a good friend of mine, and I know he does. 

Matt also added as one of his favorite blogs Adam Heine's Author's Echo. Stop by and check it out. It's easy to see why he includes it among his favorites!

Can you tell us about a current project you are either working on or promoting and where you are in the process?
I’m currently querying WARRIOR-MONKS, and I have two fulls and an R&R out, with about 6 other queries I’m waiting to hear back on. 

Other than that, I’m working on something new, which I can’t talk about, but will say that it’s Contemporary YA, with a touch of Magical Realism.

If you haven't already, check out his blog and read through his posts. You won't be disappointed! 

Thank you Matt for the interview!


  1. Great interview Kimberly and Matt! I see Matt's name everywhere (in the comments) so now I must go check out his blog!

  2. Thanks for having me, Kimberly! I just realized I forgot to answer part of that question about if I have any favorite blogs. I have several, but the one I've been loving the most lately is Adam Heine's Author's Echo:

  3. ooooh!!! matt's started on a new project!!! YAY matt!!! i just knew you had "more than one story in you" :)

  4. Yay for Matt! He's a great writer, a great supporter of writers, and a great friend. Super interview~ :o) <3

  5. Love hearing about Matt & I, too, love Adam's blog, as well as Alex's.

  6. Matt is such a blogging rock star! :)

  7. Thanks for this look at a classy guy.

    And now I gotta see "Julie and Julia."

  8. I <3 Matt! He was my very first bloggy friend! ;-)


  9. Wee hoo for Matt! And yay for Adam's blog as well! Wins all around

  10. Matthew is one of my favorite blogs. I bow to his query knowledge, and if I ever get to the point where I need one, I'm letting him chop it to pieces.

  11. Matt is awesome! Great to learn more about you :)

  12. I really like the ‘breaking into the literary one word at a time’ quote that you have at the bottom of your header!

  13. So glad to hear so many speak so highly of Matt. He really is the kind of writer you want to root for, isn't he?

    Julie - he really is everywhere! I seldom visit a post he hasn't already commented on!

    Aidyl - Thanks so much! ;)

    1. Great interview!!! I'm a new follower from Book Blogs!