In the end I had a slight change of plan, and only sent my two-chapters-and-a-synopsis of Lord Alexander's Cipher; or, the Bridekirk Behemoth to one agent as an trial attempt. This was to my first choice agency - first choice for various reasons, to do with both the clients that they represent, and the fact that I had met them, and we got on OK (and that makes it so much easier to do a query letter). So the package went into the post, and they said that they would be back in touch within four weeks.
They came back in about four days, to ask to see the rest of it.
An instant combination of elation and panic. Elation for the obvious reason; panic because I hadn't checked the rest of the typescript as thoroughly as I might have done, and I knew that there was some work needed doing. Luckily my employers were understanding and allowed me to take some leave at very short notice and I scrubbed through chapters 3 to 11 as thoroughly as I could. Out went a couple of thousand words, in came about six thousand more. Names were changed to protect the guilty (me - I had called the great man "Wellington" in the early spring of 1809, when he was still General Wellesley). There is a limit to how much better one can make a draft in a day and a half, but I think that it was improved.
With the Christmas post what it is, and the agent being not too far away, I biked the package over to the agent this afternoon, had a very pleasant chat, and came home feeling really rather optimistic. They'll get back to me in a couple of weeks, which leaves me time to work on the various Christmas Quizzes that I have picked up about the place, to read plenty, and perhaps to make a start on Lady Cardington's Folly; or, the Limehouse Leviathan.
There may even be time to run the rule over one or two more heyeroines.