A previous post (Spam Filters) generated two comments:
OK, I simply must ask, Miss Snark:What kind of "question" might you ask in regard to a query? I've had my share of rejections as well as the positive responses, but never in my "querying history" have I received a "question" preceding a rejection!
Yanno, basic stuff. Is this fiction? How many words? Are you in prison? Usually it's something basic the writer forgot to include and the writing is good enough to have survived the first round chop shop.
Uhh, how about a fallback strategy, like giving the writer a fast phone call?
Cause I'm not calling you unless I know I'm serious about acquiring your stuff. First, it creates unrealistic expectations if you get a phone call. No matter what I say ("i just need to know how many words are in this tome") the author will assume the best. That would be cruel to do to someone.
Second, I'll give you a million dollars in cold hard cash AND Killer Yapp if you can have a two sentence conversation with an agent and refrain from asking if they like the work. Cash. Barrelhead. Times Square.
So, email is the saving grace. I'd write a letter before I'd phone. When you hear Miss Snark's dulcet tones she's calling with good news, not cause you're a nitwit who can't manage to cover the basic info required in a cover letter.