Dear Miss Snark,
An agent I queried responded to say he'd passed my email on to an assistant who was interested in that sort of work, which I take to be a good sign! It was just a little strange, though, to read on and see that he'd included advertisements for published books by the agency's other clients. Is this a normal sales strategy?
I've come down hard on my colleagues who use rejection letters, or rejection emails as a venue to announce or sell their own books on writing/how to get published etc. I find it not only insensitive, but bad bad manners. It's like your boss selling Amway at work, or state sponsored religion: there's an element of unspoken coercion based on an imbalance in power that just does not sit will with my egalitarian self.
Announcements about client books are different.
First, it's a good idea to see what the agent took on and sold. That's pretty helpful info. Second, you can get the books out of the library. And third, yes, as an agent, part of my job is to talk about the books my clients write. If I take you on, I'll be talking about yours as well.
One of the biggest parts of my job is making connections for my authors. I do this by keeping my ear to the ground for publishers who are starting up new lines, editors who are moving to different houses, and anthologies that are looking for submissions. One of the ways I also do it is by putting my clients' names out in to the world in a variety of ways. You never know who's reading.
I agree it can seem a trifle pushy, but good agents ARE pushy and aggressive. The best of us do it without being obnoxious...or we try to.