Six months ago I signed with an agent, and he wanted to pitch my mystery as the first of a series. At the time I wrote it, I thought it was a standalone book, but he's absolutely right that it needs to be book one of many. I sent him a synopsis for a second book, which he was pleased with. He asked if he could show it to some editors(1), but that's the only hint he's shopping either book.
Fast-forward to this week. I've emailed him I'm done with the rough draft of the sequel and am ready to polish it and pass it along to my betas. No reply. Granted, he's a busy man, and technically we don't need any action on his end. However, since the future of this book hinges on the future of a book he's already signed, I'd like to know his current level of enthusiasm.
How do I go about reading the tea leaves here? Do I email and ask how things are looking on his end? Or should I leave it alone, soldier on, and not bother him until I have a finished draft?
First and foremost you should be able to pick up the phone and speak directly to your agent any time you want. Granted when you get her on the phone she may say "I need to call you back" or "I need to schedule a time to talk with you" but you are client not some sort of riff-raff off the street asking for a loosie and a light.
If you feel like you can't do that, you need to figure out why. Are you hesitant? Suck it up and go for it. Does your agent make you feel like an intrusion on their day? Not your problem. Call her anyway.
All these blog posts about 'Don't Call' 'Don't Bug Me' etc are for people at the query stage. That is Not You. You are a client. Your creative work is the starting point for our income stream. You get to talk to your agent without being made to feel you're a nuisance. Even if you are. (and it doesn't sound like you are at all)
Note where I marked the (1). This puzzles me. He asked permission to show it to some editors? I'm trying to think of when I've ever done that and I'm coming up blank. My JOB is to show stuff to editors. Manuscripts, synopses, sad puppies if they are so foolish as to reject anything. I expect my clients to expect me to do that.
It's time for a call to your agent. Ask for a submission list. If you can't get one pretty promptly, you've got a different problem than what you've outlined here. Discuss his/her enthusiasm level. It may very well be that s/he is getting nowhere on the submissions, and that's always discouraging for both of us.