Here's where I am on my search for a literary agent.
Steps already accomplished:
1. Wrote a dynamite outline and first few chapters of a novel
2. Got chapters critiqued by my critique group and revised accordingly
3. Took outline and chapters to conferences and got positive feedback from editors and agents
4. Submitted to a contest and won third place in the YA category--Yes!
5. Got one-on-one feedback and encouragement from an agent at a SCBWI NJ Mentoring Workshop (Those workshops are awesome!)
6. Finished writing the novel
7. Put it in the drawer for a month so I could edit it with fresh eyes one more time before sending it off (Also wrote the first draft of another dynamite book during NaNoWriMo!)
8. Gave it one last edit and made sure it's now ready to go out
Steps to accomplish now:
1. On AgentQuery.com, go through list of agents who are open to submissions and are interested in YA. Rate agents from 6-10 based on the following: how close a match their interests are to this manuscript, how open they are to other manuscripts I have, whether they've had good sales to good publishers recently (Add points to agents I like who I've met at conferences and elsewhere, as well as agents who work with writers I know.)
2. Select top 5-10 agents from my list (That's tricky with so many great agents to choose from.)
3. Write a dynamite query letter and get my critique group to help me polish it until it shines!
4. Adapt query letter for each agent on my list
5. Print up query letters, cover letters, synopses, chapters, full manuscripts--whatever each agent requests
6. Mail or email (according to each agent's guidelines) a personalized query letter or submission to each one
8. Work on something else so I don't drive myself bonkers while waiting for replies
9. With each rejection letter (everyone gets rejection letters), submit to the next agent on my list and try not to sweat it
10. Don't jump on the first offer of representation. Make sure this is really the person I want to work with first
11. Read contract carefully and make sure I understand it
12. Sign contract
13. Give agent what he/she needs to get the right deal at the right house with the right editor
I'll get there one step at a time.
Wish me luck!