I spent last night going through the Writer's Market and looking up agents. I have no idea what to look for. My criteria seem completely subjective to me, and I have no idea whether they are helping my search or hindering it.
Should have been in the agenting business for five years or more (I figure this weeds out those who are losers and/or not serious)
Should represent at least 50 clients (this tells me that they're serious about agenting, not running a beauty salon/literary agency)
Should list information about recent sales, and should actually have recent sales to list (if you "decline to comment," it may be because you've got nothing on which to comment)
Prior to being a literary agent, should have worked in a related field (publishing, another agency - no former substitute teachers or psychologists need apply)
Should be local (I'm needy and don't want to spend a fortune in long distance and airfare whining to an agent)
Contains less than 2% of: represents my genre (literary fiction), reasonable query turnaround time, doesn't come off as smarmy and nasty
So, I figure that I have plenty of time to craft the most amazing cover letter possible for my book (since it's not finished yet) and then carpet the earth with query letters. Yes, many of them say "no simultaneous queries," but if I have a manuscript that I spent three years on, I don't want to send it off to one agent, wait two to six months, send it to another agent, etc. A good fisherman uses a sturdy pole and the right bait. A REALLY good fisherman uses four or five poles and homemade bait. A professional uses half a ton of chum and a big fucking net.