Okay, so I probably should've read a lot more agent blogs more closely...here's what I think went wrong and it falls into the 'basics' category.
1. Formatted email query wrong: according to Janet Reid's Query Shark blog-where she lambasts people who send her queries to be dissected-she says not to format it like a real letter. You start w/Dear Agent's Name and proceed to your letter. Put all your contact info after your 'signature part'.
2. The sum-up part of the letter I did not feel was detailed enough. I started with the set up and then added the first five pages of the novel=you read what's about to happen just before you read what's about to happen=yawn. All of the other successful query examples I'm reading tell almost the whole story. Like a really, really flash synopsis.
There is much debate about this last bit--if you have queried successfully, or know what's worked for others, please let me know what you/they did. I want my package to be an A+.