Dear Miss Snark,
Because of a book she sold on a related theme, I queried an agent at a large firm (by email, pursuant to the firm's guidelines). She quickly replied, asking for the manuscript of my novel. I sent it immediately. Six months went by and I no longer had any expectations of this agent other than, maybe, some useful explanation as to why my book "wasn't for her." I emailed to check the status of my submission. Nothing. Three more months went by. I emailed again. Nothing. And then yesterday (nine and a half months after I sent my manuscript), I received this letter, not in my SASE:
"Thank you for sending me material for XXX. Unfortunately, you have come to us at a time when we are inundated with requests for assistance and representation. The need to allocate our time effectively forces us to decline participation in many worthy projects, and I regret that must be the decision in the case of XXX as well. I do appreciate your thinking of us, and wish you the best of luck with your book."
I don't believe this agent read my manuscript, although that's beside the point. I think she's merely "closing the book" on our interaction, just as I was trying to do by my email status query. But I am outraged by this agent's behavior. She didn't have to ask for my manuscript; she didn't even have to reply to my original query. But she did, and then she sat on the book for 9 months. There's neither an explanation nor an apology for the delay, and I think she at least owes me that, if not more.
The question is: when an agent requests a full manuscript from a writer, what is her obligation?
A decision. That's it. No explanation required.
If you think you're entitled to more than that, please do us all a favor and self publish.