Dear Miss Snark, my new best friend:
I'm a journalist and have a fab idea for a sports book. But I've never written a book before and I'm not sure if I should query the heavy hitters, like Esther Newberg, or go to agents who maybe aren't so busy or famous. What do you think? And do you have any suggestions for agents I should query? Finally, is it a mortal sin to query more than one agent at one time?
Absolute Total Rookie
PS: Thanks for considering this.
You know you don't know much. That puts you ahead of people who don't even know how much they don't know. The first step however is to learn a few things before knocking on anyone's door asking for representation. Go read the archives on this blog or at the very least read a book on how querying works.
I absolutely guarantee you that if you call up Miss Newberg and tell her you have a great idea but have never written a book she's going to ask if you have anything written, and when you say "no" she's going to say "talk to me when you do". That's of course if she hasn't sent you a "later gator" rejection letter which is much more likely.
Ideas are a dime a dozen, great ideas only slightly more expensive. Getting something down on paper is a lot harder than people think.