I've been looking for an agent for my second novel. (In a fit of frustration, I sent novel 1 straight to a publisher, so it's sitting on a slush pile right now.) I got a nice rejection this morning from my latest query to an agent.
I don't take these rejections personally. These people don't know me, so how can it be personal? I appreciate that their desks are full of hopeful submissions and queries, and they have to work through them, because tomorrow will bring another big batch to swamp them.
I've noticed that rejections of a short story differ from rejections of a novel. The rejection of a short story is likely to be brief, a simple, "It doesn't meet our needs," and it might even be on a piece of notepaper, meaning a half-page or 1/3-page form, if it's hard copy form rejection. Even an email rejection is likely a form rejection that gets pasted into the email box.
Agents responding to a query about a novel usually send it in the form of a letter, if it's hard-copy. Whether hard or electronic, the ones I've been getting have been longer than a short story rejection; the agent spends several sentences explaining that their workload is horrendous, they can't take on new clients right now unless the project seems red hot, they need to concentrate on their current clients, that this in no way reflects on my ability as a writer, and good luck in my efforts. (Yes, I paraphrased.) I almost feel like sending them a thank you note for such a nice rejection, even if it is (most likely) a form rejection pasted in an email or mail-merged into a letter.
Although getting a rejection is (obviously) not the outcome I was hoping for, it's far nicer than not getting ANY response from an agent. Some claim they are just too busy to respond to any query except those they are interested in. Maybe they get that many queries, but it just leaves me with a cold feeling about that agency. Maybe they need a part-time assistant to send out nice rejections for them. Or maybe they don't feel they need to be nice to writers they don't already represent.