I've been working on my first middle grade novel, The Shape I'm In, for over a year. I wrote it, edited it, polished it, had it read by several people, revised it some more, and it's finally ready. The whole process took a lot of time, but I'm proud of the results and I think kids will like it.
Now that it's "done" (well, until an editor gets a hold of it), it's time to find an agent for it. Why an agent? Because that's the way to get a fiction book published nowadays. How do I know? Because I've done some research. So, how does one get an agent? One writes a query letter. What does that look like? Okay, you get the point by now (I hope).
It took me over a year to write this book. Wouldn't I be an idiot if I didn't do a little research into the publishing chain for books? Wouldn't I be an idiot if I didn't read some blogs by agents to make sure I'm not the butt of one of their jokes (there's no guarantee that I won't be, but at least I'm trying)? I find it very humorous that people will spend enormous amounts of time to write a book and then ten minutes dashing off a stupid letter to an agent asking them if they want to read it without a lick of research on the process. It's just as funny that people will continually send the Query Shark a sample query that reads like crap, when there are almost 200 examples of queries already there to compare to their own.
I fully expect this next phase of the book to be more frustrating, depressing, and arduous than the writing of the book was in the first place. Fortunately, I've got my work on my next book, my software work, my judo, and my family to keep my spirits up. And I've done some work to give myself a leg up on the people who haven't done their homework.