Although agents are all doing much of the same things, we still have different approaches to how we do business and how we work with our clients. Because this is really a marriages of two minds, you have to find the best fit for you.
What are your needs as a writer? Here are a few to consider:
- Do you need someone who is there for you 24/7 for constant feedback?
- Do you need someone there to help you with editorial feedback?
- Do you need someone to always keep you updated with every single nugget of information they get from the editors they send it to?
- Do you need an agent with a hands-off approach. You write and they market?
- Do you need an agent who will spend a lot of time helping you with marketing?
- Do you need an agent who is all about business and can be a tough person when it comes to negotiating?
The thing is that with the agents out there, one size does not fit all. Your critique partner might have a great agent, but that is not to say the agent will work for you.
Before you even start sending out queries, take the time to really make a list of your personal desires in this person who will represent your work. You have to consider everything down to personalities of the agent. Don't be shy about your list either. It has to be pretty comprehensive. I know it will seem that you will not be able to find an agent who meets all of those needs, but the right agent is out there who can probably meet 90% of those needs.
Once you do this, then take the next several months researching and stalking those agents. Learn all that you can about that person. Get to know the agent well. Once you do this, you can better personalize that query letter because you know exactly who that person is.