One would think that sitting down to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and actually writing a book from beginning to end would be the hard part. Wrong.
Okay, perhaps the never-ending editing that requires a fine tooth comb to go over every word, sentence, phrase and paragraph countless times. And, yes, you continue to find errors and issues each and every time, even though you are sure that you nailed it perfectly on the last edit! This phase also involves having others edit with you in the preliminary stage. Preferably a writers group or other friends who are writers or avid readers that will also go over each page and make corrections. Perhaps this is the hardest part of the writing process? Wrong.
The winner of this prestigious honor is the grueling process of querying to literary agents.
As the complete novice that I've admitted to being... I had no clue what a query was. I knew somehow authors tried to get publishers to look at their book and hopefully sign them to a deal. The 'somehow' is querying to the middle man between you and the publishers who will actually edit, design, promote, advertise and publish your book for the masses. The agents are necessary and it is very rare to find a publisher that you can send your novel to without an agent representing you first. (I did cross that road and will write about it soon).
There are dozen of agents at dozens of firms- most all of which are in or near NYC but some are scattered across the country. Their job is to sift through the piles of would-be novels and pluck up the ones that they believe have potential to be sold to the publishers. Like I said, the middle-man. The publishers count on them to weed out books and then present to them only the cream of the crop. The agents each tend to have specialty areas that they are looking for (science fiction, middle grade, paranormal romance, women's fiction... some are very broad ranges and some are looking only at very specific type of books) and in turn they also have the 'in' with the publishers to know what they are looking for and who to submit it to within the firms.
Agents are trying to stay ahead of the trends. After Twilight blew up the book world, everyone wanted to publish the knock offs and there were vampire books everywhere... But after so long, they are moving on and if you are late to the party, no one is going to look at a vampire book anymore. They may have already moved onto zombie books for a couple of years and then onto the next trend. There is always a demand for certain books like a broad romance category- but there are still trends to follow that come and go in popularity.
So... you've got to find the right agent that is looking for the type of book you're selling and then hope they pluck you out of the million submissions on their desk and choose to champion your project and get you to the correct publisher who will also say YES!
Sound impossible? Nah, but the chances are slim and the task is daunting. What if the agent of your dreams is just having a bad day? Or has such a backlog of submissions that they pass on everything with barely a glance- looking for maybe one keyword in your query only.
Oh yes, back to the query. That's the letter you are going to write (and personalize for each and every agent that you want to submit to) to tell about you, your project and why they should pick it all in one page.