Help me, I’ve Googled and now I can’t calm down!

If I was trying to be dramatic, I might liken the current stage of my querying process to that of a drowning victim. At first, I was just shocked and disoriented, having suddenly found myself dunked into unfamiliar territory. “Good lord,” I realized. “I actually have a completed manuscript that I have faith in, that I can actually see becoming a real book sometime in the near future.”

Then came denial. “Okay, so everyone says this experience is supposed to be really scary. But I can do this. I’ve been researching this for almost two years now. I’m a published journalist; I’m used to rejection. I’m good at taking constructive criticism. There’s every chance in the world that I’ll survive.”

Followed by rationalizing… “I’m a good researcher. I can buy a few books about querying, get some real insider secrets that will help me come up with a foolproof query letter. All I have to do is follow the rules, respect the laws of publishing. Be courteous and professional and above all, confident in my work.”

And finally, panic. “Oh my god. There is so much information out there! Everyone has their own opinion, but the only thing they all seem to agree on is that I should’ve been stalking all of these agents for months! I should be able to include information in this letter detailing their past projects, marital status, and favorite type of sandwich!!? But I was trying to focus on the writing! Wasn’t I supposed to be focusing on the writing!??? Should I be sending my manuscript to all of my favorite authors, as one agent suggests?” Suddenly, common sense doesn’t seem to be carrying its weight anymore. The universe is chock full of rules I never knew existed, and hidden, unspoken faux pas that I could be committing even as I type this.

I’m swimming in broad advice, choking on pages upon pages of helpful information. Can I somehow manage to claw my way to the top, and decipher the applicable from the unnecessary? Or should I do what my brain is telling me to do, begging me to do, and just switch off the awareness…letting myself sink back into the warm, peaceful bliss of ignorance?

But again, let’s not get dramatic here.