A friend sent an aspiring writer my way. Like me, he's a high tech guy who finished his thriller by writing before breakfast and on airplanes. He's sent out 80 query letters to agents and has gotten nowhere. We discussed next steps and I sent him some links and thought I'd put them up here, too. These links fall far short of a comprehensive tutorial on getting an agent, but they're definitely worth reading.
I told him the best place to find an agent if you're writing thrillers is AgentFest where the International Thriller Writers lock 40 or so agents -- all of whom are looking for new clients -- in a single room. Aspiring authors get two minutes each to pitch as many as they can in an afternoon. The next AgentFest is in July 2011.
If you can't find the right agent or the right publisher, you can try publishing online yourself as a route to a publishing contract. It's a longshot, but it worked for Boyd Morrison who tells his story here.