Like the majority of voracious readers, I never thought much about what an author went through beyond the mystery of writing the book. For the most part, you really don't want to know. For that matter, neither do I.
Let's just touch on an item called the Query Letter. Nicholas Sparks spent about three weeks writing his first one. It took him about twenty-six revisions. The purpose is to get someone interested enough in your novel to read part of it. Then, hopefully, they'll want to read all of it with the intention of representing you and getting it published. Right. This is one of those back to the drawing board moments. I'm a writer, not a salesman. Why should this be my job?
So far this is what I've learned. You can't say:
Dear Ms. (Agent's Name),
My research shows that you have represented several of my favorite authors. They're really great, so you must be as well. I'm really proud of the novel I just finished, so I'm looking for someone with your credentials to represent me.
I'm a nice old lady who sure could use the money. My book is a good versus evil fantasy with great humor and some quirky characters. The battles are wicked, but I've managed to write it without using any profanity.
My sister loved the book. Would you like me to send it to you now?
I guess I'll buy a book on the subject...