Well, we've already received a response from the Nelson Agency regarding the first 30 pages of On Common Ground and they decided it wasn't right for them. Certainly, I'm disappointed, but not at all despairing, nor derisive! The rejection hasn't changed my opinion of the agency; I still think they are good people. I just have to keep looking.
I wonder, sometimes, if perhaps "rejection" is a poor choice of words for this process. Yes, the process is nominally called submission, because you are throwing yourself to the mercy of the agents and publishers, much like a slave casts his eyes to the floor and silently hopes that he receives a pat on the head instead of a sword to the throat. However, back to the term rejection, in many cases, the agent or editor isn't saying the work is no good, nor even saying they don't want it. They may just already have signed with half a dozen novels about Shapeshifting Teacher-Monkeys Taking Over the School and so, even though my Shapeshifting Teacher-Monkeys are the best ones, they need something different. (Self-note: write a great novel about Shapeshifting Teacher-Monkeys.)
I think a better term might be "Returned." A manuscript can be "Returned with Respect" or "Returned with Love" or "Returned with a Bag of Garbage that Smells Better than this Prose!" Thus we know why it was Returned, or at least the general impression of it, and there isn't the automatically negative connotation of it being rejected.
So, in summation, I say thank you, Kristin and Sara, for being interested enough to request the partial, and thank you for taking the time to read 30 pages that I wrote.
(Let's hope it was Returned with something other than garbage, though they didn't actually specify!)