From the comment pile on earlier posts comes a question about what does "I'll get back to you" really mean.
First let's distinguish two completely different groups of people.
Second: queryers. Queriers? Queerists? Q.s.!
If you are a client of this agency, your calls and emails are answered the day they arrive. That said, clients are asked to understand MY work schedule and they do. They don't call at 8am. And they don't call on Sunday. IF they haven't heard back from me, they call or write again and I get back to them RIGHT THEN. Email isn't a sure thing sometimes.
If you are unagented, you fall in the Q group. I do not have a business relationship with you. I don't know you. You are a stranger asking for my time. That being said, I will do my utmost to respect your time and get back to you when I say I will. Turnaround time for query letters is
about ten days. Turn around time on full manuscripts is 90 days. I make no secret of this.
It's in the guidelines on the website and I'll tell anyone who asks.
People who write to me when I've requested a full ms and say "i'd appreciate an answer in 30 days" usually get one. And it's NO. The threshold for taking on someone like that is about 99%.
They'd have to have the hottest juiciest sexiest novel of the year, and even then I'd probably say no. Why? I don't want to work with them. And there are enough agents in this world that I don't feel bad about saying no.
When you write to an agent considering your work, you are somewhat like a job applicant. Would you TELL a recruiter when to get back to you? Probably not. You'd ASK what the decision timeline is.
If an agent asks to look at your work on an exclusive basis, you still ASK what the time line is. Then if the answer doesn't suit you, you counteroffer or don't agree.
Now, if an agent says "I'll get back to you in three weeks" and doesn't you should write (not email not call) a nice letter that says something like "thanks for considering my work. You thought you'd know whether this would be a good fit with your list by July 17. Should I move that date forward one week or two?" or something along those lines. Not "I assume this means no"
NOT: "what the hell is wrong with you that you don't keep your word. How can I work with you if you're this sloppy. (actual email from someone I swear). One guy called me at 8am one day AFTER I thought I'd have the project read.
If it makes you feel any better, I do the exact same thing with editors. Editors lose manuscripts, they bite off more than they can chew and get behind, they said yes to persuasive little ol me when they should have said no (I hate that!!). Mondays I spend at least an hour doing follow up on submissions. To quote a guy who sold four million books last year "I feel your pain".