I just sent off the first three query letters for THE COALSLIDES. It isn’t advisable, I think, to send too many queries out at once because an agent may ask for an exclusive look at your manuscript. If that happens and you agree (you will), then you may be forced to say no to any other agents who reply afterward. My fantasy manuscript sat exclusively with one agent for nearly six months. If I had sent out 25 queries, I could potentially (not likely) have had to turn down 25 requests to see the rest of the manuscript.
The agents I sent my queries to were found at http://www.writersmarket.com/ where I was able to search specifically for agents listing Steampunk as a genre of interest. Of the five results, I excluded the magazine and the agency that did not have an entry at Predators & Editors. Three was exactly how many queries I wanted to start with, so I didn’t need to expand my search to all YA or MG agents, or urban fiction, sci fi, or whatever else I thought might apply. The search feature isn’t amazing anyway – there are, in fact, other agents in search of Steampunk that do not turn up under this search.
Two of the agents required a query letter, synopsis (included as part of my query), and the first 5 pages. The third required the first 20 pages. In almost every case for e-queries, you will be asked to copy and paste everything into the body of the email. Nobody wants to open 100 attachments every day and put their computer at risk for countless bugs, viruses, or bogeymen.
Within a minute of submitting each of the queries, an automated response popped up in my email. The first read:
Thank you for querying me! This is an automatic email letting you know I
received your query; I’ll respond as soon as I am able.
If you received this email in error, don’t worry. I regularly check for
emails that my automated service mislabels, so I will respond to your
non-query email shortly.
Thank you for submitting your work to ******* Agency. We do answer all queries so we appreciate your patience awaiting our reply.
And the third:
Thank you for your email.
If this is a query, consider it received.
There really isn’t much to say about the automated responses that would have any bearing on how things may turn out, but I promised to share the entirety of the experience with you, so there you have it. As things progress, I’ll let you know.