Well, it's finally happened (and by "finally," I mean "now that three months have passed"): Today I am officially chalking one up in the no-response column on the ol' query spreadsheet. Some closure at last:)
This no-response-means-no policy probably represents an aspiring author's greatest source of angst throughout the whole query process, and lately I've been trying to decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, it can be quite maddening (as in keyboard-chucking and/or straight-jacket-requiring) to compose the perfect query, personalize it appropriately, conform to all submission guidelines--and then spend the next several months and/or years of your life wondering if that e-mail ever arrived and, if it didn't, whether that could have been the One. But on the other, how would I feel if I had to wade through scores, perhaps hundreds, of random e-mails every day, at least some of which addressed me as Krystal or thought I'd be interested in the tragic true story (in novel form) of a half-eaten hot dog in New York City?
In a perfect world, I suppose, every agent would send you a system-generated response to assure you that your query had in fact arrived. But since I don't know how to do that with my own e-mail account, I guess I can't hold agents accountable for not knowing how to do it with theirs.
I know there are agents out there who manage to answer every query that slithers into their inboxes. I know there are even agents who manage to do this without the help of a posse of interns. But rather than crucify those agents who don't, maybe it's best to just give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they're really bad typists. Or maybe they spend all day raising a hyperactive two-year-old, and any spare minutes they have to check their e-mail are spent doing precisely that: checking their e-mail and not sending off form rejection after form rejection. I, for one, can relate to that.