I just received my very first rejection letter from a literary agent today. It was very polite and included a “don’t give up!” message. She answered in three days (which I believe is about a month faster than average) and many agents don’t acknowledge a query at all, saying, “If you don’t hear from me in X weeks/months I’m not interested.” In essence, “If your phone’s not ringing, it’s me not calling.” Some agencies get hundreds of queries per week, so I understand that writing personalized rejection letters would take up too much of the time they could be pitching books to publishers and reading more queries.
Getting my first rejection letter makes me feel somehow more official as an author. I wrote “Rejection #1”on it and hung it on my writing room wall. Methinks it’ll soon have plenty of company.
I view agent queries as a farmer views planting seeds. Many seeds must be planted, and many won’t grow, but we only need one to potentially reap a bountiful harvest. Rejection letters are just seeds that didn’t sprout.