I decided getting published is like building a beautiful flower arrangement.
The gardener and flowers
A gardener plants the seed, nurtures it, cares for it, and grows it into a beautiful flower. There are many varieties of flowers. Some gardeners concentrate on growing one specific type of flower while others are able to branch out into several types.
Authors are the gardeners of the writing world. The author takes the seed of an idea, develops it, and grows it into a completed manuscript. And then the real work begins. Tending the manuscript.
The author must pull weedy words, cut back overgrown dialogue, and prune nonproductive scenes.
Like flowers, there are many types of manuscripts and not every manuscript is right for every arrangement.
Some flower arrangements do better with greenery and some are able to go without. While several varieties of greenery exist, some go better with certain flowers than others. Agents are the greenery of the writing world.
An agent must search through the flowers gardeners send them to find ones they think match them best. Each flower must be smelled to see if it's appealing. To keep their offices from overflowing, many agents ask authors to send a petal as apposed to the entire flower. If the agent likes the scent of the petal, he/she will ask to see a larger sample of the flower, or sometimes the entire flower.
Should the agent decline the petal, or later the entire flower, move on, there are plenty of greeneries out there. Eventually you'll find an agent who thinks your manuscript matches. If not, perhaps you should take another look at your manuscript, it might need more tending. Or perhaps the petal you sent, wasn't the best one off the flower, try another one. If the agent likes what they see an offer is extended to help further prepare your flower to fit into the arrangement.
An agent offers suggestions for further care of your manuscript. Picking off the dead leaves and wilted petals. Maybe even cutting the stem to better fit a certain vase.
Finding the Vase
The flower is ready for the arrangement and the search for the vase is on. Not every vase looks good with every flower. Some vases are too large, others too small, some don't fit well with the shape of the arrangement. Editors and publishing houses are vases. If you have an agent they will know which editors have the best chance of fitting your manuscript. If you're on your own, you may have to do some extra research (much like you did to find an agent). Either way, it's still trial and error.
Once again, samples of the flower must be sent so the editors can choose flowers they think will do well in the flower market.
In the end a beautiful flower either paired with greenery or on it's own winds up in the perfect vase to make an amazing arrangement. Hopefully the arrangement will result in a flower selling well in the market. Bringing in a different kind of greenery.