But every now and then people think I'm like an agent and want me to see their query letter and read the first 30 pages of their manuscript.
I don't. Really. And I've been with my agent since 1994, so I don't even really keep up connections with agents. My advice is always the same: Go to writing conferences and meet agents there. And subscribe to PublishersMarketplace.com for a month and do research on agents who have repped books like yours. Not all deals are on there, but a lot are.
And even though I'm not an agent and don't want to be one, let me say this about query letters.
1. Don't emphasize how many years it's taken you to write the book, most especially if it's a mystery or anything that could be turned into a series. Because they like series books to come out once a year. And if it took you five years to write your first book, well...
2. Also, don't talk about how much your friends, or most especially your mother, like it. This just sounds lame.
3. And if you've written a mystery, don't start out by bashing all the other mysteries out there, and talking about how literate yours is, how it really rises above the genre.
Stepping off my soapbox now...