And you wait twiddling your fingers not understanding why it's taking so long for them to identify your genius and you start making excuses - they've an extraordinarily large slush pile at the moment, the person who reads through the pile is on holiday, the person who read through your work is so awestruck she's passed it on to the senior agent and so on.
Until finally the email arrives.
"Thank you for writing to us. I do apologise for the standard email; we have been so inundated with submissions recently that we are unable to give each one an individual reply. We have considered your proposal carefully, but I am sorry to say that we feel that it is not going to be one for us. Do not take this as criticism of your work. We are only able to take on a handful of new authors and we have to really fall in love with your work to be able to give it our best."
Or something along the lines of "Don't take it personally." Don't take it personally? I've sweated over that manuscript. I've had sleepless nights. I've poured out my soul. I've lived in my characters' shoes for months. I feel their pain. And you tell me not to take it personally?
When you've stopped crying you have two choices and sending a rude email to the agent is not one of them.
You can take it personally, tell yourself you can't write and throw yourself into judo or macramé, or - and if you're a writer this is what you'll do - you'll consult your list of literary agents and send your manuscript off again. Maybe not straight away: a time of grieving is allowable as long as it's not too long and in the unlikely event that the agent offered some words of advice you may want to consider them.
And then you start again, you begin again to hope. This agent will appreciate your work. You know it's good; it's only a matter of time before someone else realises that and this could be the someone else.
Without hope you wouldn't even bother. It's the hope that makes you keep on trying, hanging on in there.
And it's the destroying of that hope that is so very painful.