I got an anxious phone call from a writer who had already spoken to me twice in the past month. (He had been referred by an editor I like and respect with a literary novel - he called to make sure I received the ms. Don't do this. We get thousands.)
This call was to ask what I thought he should do about the editor at a major New York house who has had his mansucript since December 7th and hadn't made a decision yet, even though the editor had requested the manuscript.
I wanted to ask him if he was taking medication that made him think he was the center of the universe, but then I remembered that this is what happens whenever you write something.
I told him to write a polite email saying he was anxious to hear what he thought of the manuscipt when he was finished. I explained to him that senior editors (which this guy was) have many many authors under contrat who are delivering on time, and that they take priority. I explained to him that none of us in this business read during office hours. I reminded him that the publisher was closed between Christmas and New Year's. And that if he pushed him to make a decision, the editor would most likely decide that he didn't want to deal with an author who couldn't wait.
You just can't imagine the workload we are under. I have 77 clients, most of whom write at least one book, if not two, a year. I read 200 manuscripts a year. I allow myself to read 12 published books a year (I'll explain that in another post - I'm reading Blood Sucking Fiends by Christopher Moore now, and loving it, even though I'm about a decade late). I have no super-powers when it comes to reading (but I can type 110 wpm), so it takes me six hours to read a 300 page manuscript. I read for about 10 hours a week. It's the same for editors. That's why it takes us so long to get back to you.