Dear Miss Snark:
An agent with strong credentials recently started her own agency. I sent her a partial on a project, following the online submission guidelines. I also received a form response, assuring me the submission materials were received.
The guidelines were very specific that responses would come in 1-2 months and not to query on the status of the submission. The guidelines also asked not to query multiple projects.
More than 4 months have passed and I've not yet heard on my submitted partial. And, I've got a new project that has editor interest for the full manuscript. I'd like to get this project in front of agents and the reputation of this particular agent, coupled with the fact that she's building her client list, puts her high on my A list as I seek literary representation. While I want to be respectful of her guidelines, I'm unsure of how best to proceed.
Is it acceptable to send an email, asking the status of the first partial? Or is it better to query the second project through the online submission guidelines, ignoring any mention of the first?
She's overwhelmed with submissions, and if she's starting her own shop, she's got a LOT of things going on. The query stack is pretty much at the bottom of the To Do list every day, and right above it is "reading partials".
Therefore, as appetizing as this agent is for you, you should query others, and you should query now. You should NOT send another query to Appetizing if she hasn't gotten back to you on the first one.
You can email her about the status of the first project. If Appetizing has said "I'll get back to you in 1-2 months" and doesn't, then normal business etiquette applies. Yes, you can email her. Yes, you still have to be polite, but agents are not deities despite all our efforts to appear as such. You do not need permission and you don't need to apologize. This is a business transaction not a supplicant seeking the attention of the Great and Powerful Agent of Oz.
What you can also do if another agent offers representation is email Appetizing and say "you're at the top of my list of desirable agents, I have another offer, can you let me know if you still want to go to the dance with me".
Most agents are not slacking off on purpose. It's daunting to see the reading pile at the end of the day and most of us don't want to just summarily eject all comers.