The Trade Tuesday: Getting to Know Agents
I believe as an agent that an author can have much more success by simply getting to know the agents to whom she's sending query letters. I don't mean talking to an agent for an hour at a writing conference. Instead, I mean getting to know what sorts of books the agent likes, her personality, and her general interests.
Think about it. If you're trying to pitch a book about the Illuminati, dragons, and a character that loves rock music and Donald Trump, I'm going to be all over it. If you're trying to pitch a book about a laboratogy, nuclear physics, and a character that loves classical music and Karl Marx, I'm not exactly going to be a huge fan but many agents could be. You shouldn't waste your time pitching a book to a hundred agents without learning more about them first.
You don't have to stalk agents or become their unofficial biographers. All that you really have to do is look at the books the agent in whom you are interested has represented and check her social media accounts. If the agent has represented only western romances and you're trying pitching science fiction with a splash of theology and horror, you would know right off the bat to look somewhere else. If the agent has represented seventy four political thrillers and you're pitching a book about the King of England trying to become an absolute monarch, you might have just found a perfect match.
Also check an author's social media accounts. If all of your characters are socialists, you might not want to pitch your book to someone in the Tea Party. If half of your book is lyrics from classical music and the agent repeatedly bashes it and cares only for heavy metal, you probably want to submit elsewhere. If the agent has never used the word "heck" or "crap" in one hundred thousand tweets, you probably wouldn't want to submit a book with over a thousand F-bombs.
Don't waste your time querying one hundred agents without getting to know them a bit first. Look for the folks with whom you'll have the best chance and submit to them. Check out their previous work and their social media accounts, and you could very well find the perfect match.