Michelle Andelman, a new agent at Andrea Brown's agency, turned me down today with a form rejection. So, can I read between the lines?
"Thank you for the chance to consider your project. Unfortunately, I am unable to offer you representation."
Standard boilerplate sentence there. The answer is no, plain and simple.
"Today's market is a demanding one. We receive hundreds of submissions a year, and can only take on a small percentage of them. I enjoyed reading your pages, but I'm afraid your work just isn't the best match for my agency's representation."
The old 'demanding market' gambit I see. Is this agent-speak for 'I can't sell this'? Then she adds on another reason for rejection, that the work is not right for her agency. Now, since I included a synopsis with the original query, how could she not tell that in the beginning? But, she also enjoyed reading the pages, which leads to the closing paragraph:
"There are many authors whose manuscripts have been rejected, and have then gone on to find the right publisher for their work. In fact, you might say this is a time-honored tradition, and I hope that it will be the case for you."
My take on this? The work did not suck eggs, but she did not get grabbed by the story line. Or, she's just being nice about something that is unpleasant. No matter what she meant, or did not mean, it all boils down to a 'no', and I know what that means.
Yesterday night, I sent Elisabeth Weed the sample chapters that she requested of the same manuscript. The frustration continues.