However, there is so much more. There are hundreds of agents, so the list needs to be narrowed down to what genre they represent. Once a list is made, research needs to be done on the agents. They may all want historical romance, but some might not be interested if there is a religious element. Some of those who do take inspirational works will only accept evangelical submissions. (Part of me wonders if the author has to be evangelical, that it's not enough for the characters to be.)
Each agency has different submission requirements. Some want pages appended, some don't. If they do want pages, the number differs from agency to agency. Although five seems to be fairly standard, it most certainly is not a rule.
When I send out a round of queries I make a table. In one column goes the agent's name. The next is the name of the agency. After that is contact information, requested format of the query letter, number of pages requested, if any, and any other pertinent information found on their website. The most useful columns, for me, are the date sent and the date to expect a reply if they are interested (usually found on their website). If the second date passes, then so have they.
This brings me back to the beginning. The exhilarating part of querying is getting that request for more. I've had a few of those. One even requested a full manuscript! She said she'd contact me in six to eight weeks. I was so excited I danced through the house.
Of course, that was almost nineteen weeks ago.
Which leads me to the frustration of querying. The truth is I want an agent who is as excited about my story as I am. That means that I have to find her, though, and so far I've had no luck. It's kind of like fishing. I throw in my hook and get some nibbles, but so far no one has bit. At least all my rejections have been very kind. Compliments have been made to my writing style, the strength of my characters, and my premise. All of which made me smile, until I get to the line where they say the don't think we're a good fit.
OH well, it's all in God's hands anyway. I'm sure one day I'll find that perfect fit. The author of The Help had sixty rejections. The sixty-first was interested. I guess