Every once in a while I do a search for people who mention this blog, to see if I'm being praised or criticized, or if there's an issue I want to address. Every single time, the same few websites pop up that take a stance against something I said, either because it was wrong or because they have a different opinion. With all the scammers out there on the internet, trying to make a buck off unpublished writers, people tend to stay away from anything they hear something bad about.
Let me establish right now: I don't know everything. Nobody knows everything, certainly not about book publishing, which is a confusing enough industry as it is. Anyone who tells you they know everything is full of shit.
In fact, there's little I can say other than anecdotal tangents that could not be argued against. If you're reading this blog trying to get an opinion of the industry, don't only read this blog. Read other agent blogs, editor blogs, and blogs of published writers. When you see a consensus, it's probably true.
These things, however, in the specific area of literary agency submissions, are facts:
(1) You should always include a SASE unless the agent says to do otherwise.
(2) If you have an email address, include it in your query letter in case your SASE gets lost, never made it into your envelope, gets destroyed by the postal service, or is sealed by moisture because your mail was delivered in the rain. We would prefer to have some way of contacting you that isn't the phone. In fact, we need it.
(3) At some point in your query letter, you should mention your manuscript and tell us what it is about.
Everything else is opinion. Maybe it's a well-formed opinion based on experience, but it's still an opinion. Most of the time.