Is there some sort of unspoken (or spoken, and I've just been oblivious) truth that when an agent requests a manuscript, the likelihood of their offering to rep decreases as time goes on?
In the past few months I've had as many as 14 fulls/partials out at once. I currently have 9 fulls and 3 partials out. The most recent have been out for 3-4 weeks; most are in the 3-4 month range. Some I've nudged, only as per their guidelines, sometimes with updated versions; they've responded they would happily read the newer version, and were sorry for being behind. One has had the manuscript (in one form or another) for over a year. And one has had a partial since January.
I'm constantly seeing Tweets like, "OMG SQUEEEEE! My How-I-Got-My-Agent story, on my blog!" and inevitably when I read it, their timeline indicates the person queried, got the full request within days, and then got the offer, again, within days.
Query Tracker seems to suggest similar. I can't find a single instance of a writer sending a requested manuscript, then hearing back with an offer 3-6 months later.
I'm afraid I'm sitting on a pile of rejections (or on-responses) because they've not offered rep within the first 72 hours. For the record, until I started seeing more and more of these "how I got my agent" stories and QT stats, I never would've expected to hear anything (good or bad) for at least 2 months. If an agent's going to offer rep, is it always on a project they're so excited about they put their entire jam-packed schedule aside to read the whole thing in two nights? (1) If it's something they aren't wild about, do they stick it in a pile for mass-rejection months down the road?(2)
It's hard to give up hope when I've had so much interest, but because no one's sent me an offer within hours/days of receiving it, based on Twitter/agented writer blogs/Query Tracker, I'm starting to feel down about the whole situation. (And yes, I'm working on other projects, but I can't get these floating fulls out of my head).
P.S. I detest the "word" SQUEEEE.
I've never signed a client that fast. Not ever.
Not even the amazing Patrick Lee whose query and pages were so enticing, I called him (rather than wait to email) to request the full and waited at my keyboard for him to send. I emailed him when I had finished reading the book, and it still took a week to sign him. I'm almost positive that's the fastest I ever signed anyone, and his query sat here for at least a couple weeks before I got to it.
Those stories about how fast someone got signed are due in large part to the enormous increase in the number of agents pursuing projects, rather than everyone reading faster and offering quicker.
The stats at QueryTracker aren't scientific. No one is required to report; those that do aren't required to report accurately. Twitter is just blather most of the time, not even as reliable as a news crawler.
In my experience, agents are actually reading slower. My colleague Brooks Sherman just signed a client who had been in the incoming submissions for a year. I've got GOOD manuscripts pending that have been here six months and longer (a fact of which I am not proud, but is indeed the stark truth.)
To answer your actual questions:
To answer the question you didn't ask:
No, you aren't even close to any kind of freshness date expiration on your submissions.
I've signed several clients after lengthy waiting periods. I'm currently working with a prospective client that's been on my radar since 2008. I fully expect to sign her as a client and sell her work when the novel is polished and ready to go.
There are all sorts of ways to drive yourself completely bonkers while your work is on submission. This is one of them. Don't let yourself get caught up in this kind of faux statistics game. Have confidence in your work, and have confidence in the process.
Publishing is a long game. You're learning that the way we all did: the hard way.