Today I participated in Nathan Bransford's blog contest "Agent for a Day."
To my surprise and delight, going through queries is FUN AS HELL! If you haven't already, I recommend you get yourself over to http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/, read the rules, and dive on into the slush pile! The water's fine.
Basically, I got the chance today to sift through 50 real queries and decide if I loved them enough to request some sample pages. We could only request a total of 5 out of the 50, to make it realistic (agents can't help their clients if they are waist-deep in sample chapters, after all), which was the hardest part.
I read each and every query and found at least 7 that I really, really liked. THEN I had to go through the agony of paring it down to those I absolutely loved.
I see much more clearly now that when an agent rejects you, it may not be because your writing stinks or your query is poor. It could be that they are just in "like" with your project, but not head-over-heels in love with it.
And it has to be true freakin' love when you have that many queries to get through in a day.
So, KUDOS to all the agents out there :). I love your job, and I can see why a lot of you really enjoy reading queries on a day to day basis. But I also get how hard it is to reject people, why you need form letters just to keep on schedule, and that you have to be truly nuts about a book before you can say that fateful "Yes."
Good luck to all you queriers out there, and remember: sometimes it's not you. It's the slush pile.