A well-reputed agent has had my full for almost a year now. I have nudged her once and she says she hasn’t read it yet. Her policy is to inform her if you receive rep elsewhere on fulls she currently has. I have received many rejections for this ms already – I’ve been told it’s a tough sell because it has a dystopian vibe – and personally, I want to shelve it.
Meanwhile, I've completed another ms in a different genre and plan to query that in the near future. My question is, what happens in the event I am offered rep for the new ms that’s in a different genre? How do I inform this first agent who still has my old full (when it’s a completely different ms)? Will she be upset that I want to go with someone else? But I can’t sit around and wait for her forever, especially on something that's likely not salable at this time. What’s the most professional way to handle this without burning bridges?
It's not me is it? It very well could be. Well, ok, I haven't had anything for a year, now that I check my submission data base, but that's cause I spent most of December reading madly to end the year with a clean slate.
I mention this because delays are just a part of the submission process. For every story like Becky Albertalli's there are 1000 that start like your question.
The key piece of information here though is your last sentence in the first paragraph: "I want to shelve it."
This is your career, and you get to manage it as you see fit. Even when you have an agent who gives you advice and guidance, you get to do what feels right to you. (If you continuously avoid taking my advice, we're going to have a conversation about what you think my value is, but it's not like I can have you arrested for Failure to Heed My Words--would that I could.)
The second thing you need to realize is that the submission process is dynamic, not static. People withdraw submissions all the time, and for all sorts of reasons. It's not burning a bridge to do that.
I have to withdraw submissions from editors every once in a while. It's not my favorite thing to do (that would be SELLING something, not taking it off the table!) but editors understand that circumstances change. Agents do too.
Here's what you do: polite email to Agent Sloth saying you're withdrawing your manuscript (title) sent to her on (date) and thank her for her willingness to read same. You don't need to explain anything but you can certainly say you're working on something new in a different category and you would like to query her on that project when it's ready.