Am I naive in thinking if an agent you met at a conference requests a partial, you should expect a little more than a form rejection?
I attended a conference that featured a 90-second public pitch. There were several agents and a small press on the panel. I had done my homework and only one agent represented Thrillers (she politely explained that she was concentrating on chick-lit). After the sessions were complete, I was surprised that one agent that did not "normally" represent Thrillers came up to me on a coffee break, handed me her card, said it was a great pitch and asked for a partial. I went home and fired it off to her with a "Requested Material" sticker attached.
To my surprise, less than 2 weeks later, I received a form rejection letter from the agent. Also odd that she presented material and claimed to be a very personable agent that really worked closely with authors. (there goes the coffee up the nose)
Am I a nitwit to expect, at least, a personal rejection from this situation? Or should I invest in a "Requested Material" stamp instead of relying on adhesive labels?
Agents are not in the business of saying anything more than yes or no at any stage. A 90-second public pitch is just about the worst way in the world to get any indication about what a book is like. Those things reveal whether an author is skilled in front of a live audience, and what they think the book is about. It has zero, ZERO correlation to the plot, and even less to the writing.
It's entirely possible she just didn't like it. It's entirely possible it's a sprawling mess. The only way you'll get an agent to say "this is a mess" is if you send it to a crapometer.
The idea that you are entitled to anything more than a form rejection needs to get nipped in the bud if you plan to attend any more writing conferences. Take a look at the myriad of comments in this blog alone about agents who don't respond at all, let alone as soon as "less than two weeks later".
As for it being odd that she rejected you with a form letter despite claiming to be a personable agent who worked closely with authors let's just all remember, you aren't one of her authors.
You are on the plane to Nitwitville. You might want to start scouting around for a parachute.