Jumping back to the PNWA conference in July; I had the chance to attend a workshop by Laura Rennert, an agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She went over her own list of do's and dont's for finding an agent.
Very timely for me, since that is what I'm focused on now.
Anyhow, a few of her do's:
Know your genre
Include a personal greeting to the agent. No, to whom it may concern.
Research the agency you're submitting to and follow their guidelines.
Make sure your query is polished and error free.
Mention any referrals or contacts.
Don't stop after a few rejections- keep trying.
Let the agent know if it is a multiple submission.
Take advantage of all the resources out there. Join websites, read blogs, join organizations (may I suggest the SCBWI or the PNWA) etc...
Now for a few dont's:
Don't submit queries with errors.
Don't act unprofessionally- you might burn your bridges.
Don't use gimmicks.
Don't submit to more than one person at the same agency.
Don't submit to agents who don't handle your genre.
Don't send blanket queries with a ton of agents copied.
Don't give up!
If you'd like to check out Laura, her agency website is http://www.andreabrownlit.com/.