Phillippa thanks for all your very helpful input – those podcasts look fantastic, will check them out.
Yes to perseverence and also to remembering that agent response is COMPLETELY subjective – not some all seeing deity decreeing from on high. I have had exactly opposite responses from two well respected agents on something I submitted – one said the idea was strong but the writing needed work while the other said I could certainly write and the prose was good, but the idea was a bit hackneyed…so there you go.
I’m in the throes of trying for an agent too PB so I sympathise! So much is timing and connection with the wright person (as well as writing a fantastic book, of course). I have had a nibble of interest but no actual offer yet so I’m at the same stage as you.
I recently read a thing published by Juliet Mushens and one of her writers – Jessie Burton – where they broke down Jessie’s (successful) cover letter and analysed it, here – http://www.jessieburton.co.uk/1/post/2013/08/dear-juliet.html
I found this really interesting and quite helpful actually, maybe you will too.
And GOOD LUCK!!