Dear Miss Snark,
So, you are very firm about not querying agents I don't know (or, I suppose, tanking candy from strangers). However... I'm in a writer's group, with a lot of published people, and no one has an agent, or knows one. I have introduced myself to every published author I know, and no one will introduce me to their agent. Most don't have an agent. So my first question is HOW DO YOU GET TO KNOW AN AGENT?
And my second question is, can I invite you out for coffee, so I can get to know you?
Querying agents you don't know ABOUT.
That means just sending query letters to an agent who, say, keeps a blog.
I get queries like that regularly.
Most I delete, unread, and put the name on "junk mail sender" so I don't have to hear their nitwittery responses.
If you are querying a novel, you get an agent's name, contact info, and you learn about them by doing ALL of these:
1. Read the agency's website
2. Read the listing on AgentQuery.com, Preditors and Editors, and Writers Digest.
3. Google the agent's name to find interviews, writers conference listings and other misc info.
When you have done all three, you "know about" an agent and you may query.
And of course you can't buy Miss Snark coffee, are you insane? Miss Snark does not drink coffee she has Bustello on an IV drip hung from a rolling pole that also serves as decorum enforcement on the IRT.