By the end of this month I will have sent out 60 submissions to publishers and agents. I've been sourcing them from the Writers and Artist yearbook. I don't use the book's guidelines, but go to the website of each, read about them, see if it's worth my time in terms of suitability to submit, and if so, do out the submission, verbatim, to their individual guidelines.
I've tried to gauge from others how many submissions should one go through before seeking another way of doing it. Publisher and agents seem unwilling to give a number, as yet I've found no real answer to this. Probably because self publishing authors eat into the heart of traditional publishing and also by-pass the need for an agent.
In my own opinion, an agent who knows the Industry and will work hard to make sure there is a constant stream of work in front of you is well worth their percentage. In fact , I'd say a good agent comes cheap in percentage terms if their work ethic matches that of the author. (well this particular one anyway)
I've been seeking out agents whom represent but book writers and script writers, as having studied and wrote in both, I'd feel I would be at a stage in my career where I'd be comfortable writing in either. I have spec scripts written, rarely read, but such is that world. You think finding a publisher is hard, try getting a production company to read your script...in Ireland.
Ireland seems to have a distinct lack of agents. I sent to the all that I could find here. I'd say to first time authors that sending queries via e mail is a waste of time. Strike rate is 1:10 will reply.
Sending query letters by post is a better option, but don't be surprised if you follow up after a few months and you are told 'we never received it'.
In terms of scripts, I've had this happen quite a lot. The jury is out on book submission thus far.
With little advice out there that differs from normal practices, I guess first time writers have to make their own judgement calls. Writers, for the most part like writing, and prefer not to be making such calls.
It's just another bridge that will have to be crossed when I get there. Research is providing a lot of interesting ways I can go should traditional routes fail. I may have a slight advantage in a few areas.... but that's another story, for another day.