When I first began my writing journey I did months of research. I was not looking for details for my book or character names. I was not coming up with timelines or epic plot twists. I was instead procrastinating on the actual writing by looking up information about how to get an agent once my masterpiece was created. I was so lost and I had no idea.
Of course you can get general knowledge from looking up the agents and what they are looking for but as any writer with even a half finished manuscript is aware, the book rarely turns out to be what you thought at the beginning. I have one story, Breathe, that in the process of writing went from a twist filled suspense thriller to an unexpected romance with suspenseful twists. I truthfully yelled at my computer when it took the romantic turn because it was not at all what I had envisioned.
After I realized that I did need the details such as genre, length and of course pages to submit I began to write the book. It wasn't until after I completed the third round of edits and rewrites that I was able to start crafting a query letter with an adequate hook because I finally knew what the book was really about. But how to write the query and who to send it to, those were my new challenges. I had the internet which was helpful but so vast I once again felt completely overwhelmed.
I gave up after spending hours trying to compile lists of people and addresses, likes and needs. I went to my personal escape, Barnes & Nobel and browsed the shelves for a book to take my mind off my own. Then as I was meandering through the reference books I found it The Writer's Market. I had heard of it before but had never picked up a copy to examine it. That day I did and I found what I was looking for.
There was an entire chapter with examples of the query letters, lists of agents and publishers and even explanations for freelance writers about what it takes and who was searching for material. There was a list that included payments for the freelancers, contests and prizes almost everything I could think of that I needed to know. I have since acquired not only The Writer's Market but several other books I will share in time that are packed with information and should be on the shelf if even just for a quick answer or two of any author wishing to make their dream a reality.