Do agents often give out their cards rather than face the (hopefully) distasteful task of telling authors they aren’t interested? Or did I just have a good pitch?
Also, when an agent asks for chapters, should “Requested Material” be written on the envelope? Does it get to the agent faster that way?
Yes. Agents admit to me all the time that they just request everything that’s pitched to them because it’s easier. Why is it easier? They can reject it when it gets to the office, or even have an assistant reject it, and they don’t have to deal with the author’s reaction face-to-face. Cowardice? Yes, probably. Stupid? Not when you read back through the many crazy responses I get to rejection letters. Can you imagine getting those in person?
Is it necessarily a bad thing? Not if you’re getting your work into someone’s hands. You never know what will happen when it crosses an agent’s desk. My thoughts on whether or not your pitch was good is really about how people reacted. Did it seem as if they just handed over a card mechanically? Or did the agents seem obviously enthusiastic? If you got requests universally I would safely assume you have a strong pitch. There’s always one or two who will reject the work if they don’t feel your pitch was strong.
Feel free to write “requested materials” on the envelope. In my office it doesn’t make any difference, but in another office it might.
And congratulations and good luck.