So, what now? It's really a matter of choosing a course and following through. If you're determined to get published, you must commit to the following steps:
1. Write the best novel you can. I can't tell you how many people I talk to who have a great idea or have just written the first fifty pages. Stop talking and write. There's too much competition out there to simper over what you're going to do. Just do it.
2. Do the research. Who repesents your market? Who's accepting unsolicited manuscripts? There are so many good resources out there already (on-line: AgentQuery, Writer Beware, ForWriters, Writers Write & book form: Guide to Literary Agents, Literary Marketplace, Writer's Market to name a few), that I'm not going to repeat it all here.
3. Do the research part II. Think you're done? Not by half. Once you find a sizable agent list, research them. Visit their websites and find out exactly what they want. If they're looking to publish urban fantasy with a steampunk edge and you're writing high fantasy, look elsewhere. Tailor everything you do in your query to each specific agent. Yes, that means that you might be doing a great deal of editing and work. That's okay. That's your job.
4. Do the work. Write a darn good query letter. Again, this means doing your homework, discovering what a query letter is supposed to accomplish, and perfecting your work of art.
- Reminder: Different agents require different things. Look up their requirements on their website. They may ask for a query letter, a synopsis, or a chapter outline, an ounce of blood or DNA proof that you're not a child of the antichrist. Give it to them.
- Note: If agents have no unsolicted manuscripts written on their site, that simply means that you need to write an effective query letter. Don't strike them off your list.
5. Send off your queries in batches of ten (see previous post on this strategy).
6. Don't stop -- Keep writing. Just because you've written the next best thing since LiveScribe doesn't mean you rest on your laurels. Nope. Instead, you keep on a' truckin'. You write. After all, it's what you do.