I would love to help…but I can’t. I used to say yes to these types of requests on occasion, but that opened up a floodgate of requests I couldn’t manage. Due to time constraints (my full-time job, writing schedule and family/other obligations) and legal reasons, I can’t address such requests any more, as much as I wish for your success. If it makes you feel better, those times in the past when I did review someone’s manuscript and/or introduced someone to a rep and/or met up to chat about publishing was not at all like me handing over a key — in fact, quite the opposite was true, as there was a LOT more work to do.
So if you’d like feedback on your manuscript, I suggest either forming a critique group or reaching out to a freelance editor who will review your work for a fee (if you’re writing kidlit, joining the SCBWI will lead you in the right direction). As for meeting agents, writing conferences are a great way to network with professionals in the publishing industry. The SCBWI holds national conferences twice a year (in NYC during the winter, and in L.A. during the summer). You’ll also learn the proper way to query agents, which is what 99% of authors have had to do — effectively pitching your own work is a great skill to have in your toolbox! And one reason I maintain this website is to answer questions about writing and publishing for those who’d like to know (you’ll find exactly what I would say to you in person or on the phone right here on this site — in my posts and articles/interviews).
The road to getting traditionally published is a tough one, often filled with rejection letters and years of hard work, so you’re not alone (I can’t speak to self-publishing because I’ve never tried it…at least not yet). The best advice I can give is to build a community of creatives and to keep going even when you feel like giving up. Especially when you feel like giving up. On days when it seems like everything you’re doing is worthless, pick up one of your favorite books to get re-inspired. I like to go for a walk and get away from my project(s) for a while to get some perspective. Persistence (and some talent/ability) is truly the key. Wishing you much success!