I've read your blog with interest, and have a question that I don't think is addressed. It's regarding expectations writers can have of their agents. Is it reasonable to assume that an agent will write a pitch that reflects the tone of the book, correctly identify the genre, and pitch to editors who are a good fit for the book?
I ask because while my agent acknowledges that the pitch he sent was misleading and the genre was not correctly identified, he says that had the editors truly liked the book they would have referred him to another editor in the house. I've always assumed that busy editors like busy agents simply do not have time to do this. And a blurb that doesn't match the book and mis-identified genre are the first reasons to reject a book. Am I wrong?
Ok, I've applied a cool cloth to my fevered brow, taken a quick sip of a (medicinal purposes only) libation, and am now ready to respond.
WHAT THE EVER LIVING FUCK IS THIS??
Your agent just told you in no uncertain terms that he is an idiot.
NO, you do not ever assume that an editor will pass things on to another editor. An agent's job is to get the right editor the first time. I've spent untold hours now working on my info sheets for editors. I spend time talking to them on the phone, over lunch, on Twitter, and in other odd places (like conferences) to find out what they like to read, what books they wish they'd edited, and generally what gets them enthused. I read the books they acquire. We talk about the books they DON'T acquire (very illuminating info!) Sure, I miss the mark sometimes in that this is a very subjective industry, but at least I try to get it right.
As for wrong genre, I can understand that a bit more easily. One of my favorite JOKES is that I've sold urban fantasy "by mistake" because I thought it was something else. In fact I did think it was something else, and the urban fantasy category was decided AFTER the editor bought it and was planning the marketing for the book (and let's all notice, the book SOLD, even with the 'wrong category' which I assume from your question, is not the case with yours.)
If you get the category wrong, you're almost certain to get the wrong editor.
And a misleading pitch is deeply perplexing. It's like creating a dating profile with an old picture. Unless you're planning that the editor never read the book (or your prospective date never actually meet you) it's entirely counterproductive to get the pitch wrong. Which is not to say I haven't revised pitches if I'm not getting the enthusiasm the book deserves. (But again, you didn't say there were revisions being made.)
What the hell was your agent thinking? The only thing I can come up with after thinking about this for several days, was that your agent was trying to assess what went wrong. "I sent it to the wrong editors" as an assessment is really different than "I just sent it to editors without much thought." I've sent things to editors who didn't buy the project. That doesn't mean they were the wrong editors other than in the most black and white sense of things.
It's because all three things went wrong: pitch, category, editors, that I think something is very wrong here. You can miss two of the three (not intentionally of course) but all three is a trifecta of sloppiness.
As to your question: if an editor is led to expect and be excited about something, only to find out the book is not that at all, yes, that's a problem.