This may be a minor question.....

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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johndavid
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This may be a minor question.....

Post by johndavid » August 4th, 2010, 12:28 pm

and I'm almost embarassed to ask it.

When I send out queries it is easy enough to address them to someone like Nathan here.

Dr. MR Bransford,

but when I am sending one to a female agent I don't know what to do.

Dear MS agent
Dear MISS agent
Dear MRS agent.

I have never been good with the female titles. There is no way to know the marital status of an agent from most agent websites.

What do YOU do?

Margo
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by Margo » August 4th, 2010, 12:32 pm

For females, I generally us Ms. HOWEVER, there are certain agents who hate that. Research the agent first.
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cheekychook
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by cheekychook » August 4th, 2010, 12:36 pm

That's a totally legitimate question---it's not as clear cut with women as it is with men.

I can't speak to queries, specifically, but as a general rule Ms. Is the way to go---it is the only neutral one---it's correct if she's single, it's correct if she's married, and it's a proper title.
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cheekychook
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by cheekychook » August 4th, 2010, 12:41 pm

Margo wrote:For females, I generally us Ms. HOWEVER, there are certain agents who hate that. Research the agent first.
That's true, certain women (not just agents) hate being addressed as Ms BUT, unless they actually make a point of ranting on their blog/site about how it's a pet peeve of theirs, there is no way to know this. Agree, research the agent first, but if no specifics are given on the site I still think Ms. is your safest bet. A woman who gets annoyed by a stranger who addresses her as Ms. will be annoyed because she has a personal issue with the title, not because you've breached etiquette.
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John Dillon
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by John Dillon » August 4th, 2010, 3:06 pm

cheekychook wrote:A woman who gets annoyed by a stranger who addresses her as Ms. will be annoyed because she has a personal issue with the title, not because you've breached etiquette.
Well said.

Moreover, a woman who gets annoyed by a stranger who addresses her as Ms. will be annoying.

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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by Margo » August 4th, 2010, 3:37 pm

John Dillon wrote:Moreover, a woman who gets annoyed by a stranger who addresses her as Ms. will be annoying.
LOL. Sorry. Sure, why not? It's so easy to find an agent. Who wants one with a feminist tick.
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johndavid
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by johndavid » August 4th, 2010, 7:14 pm

Thank you Margo and Cheeky for the advice!

I guess I can stop using 'Dear agent chick' in my queries!

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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by John Dillon » August 5th, 2010, 9:20 am

Margo wrote:
John Dillon wrote:Moreover, a woman who gets annoyed by a stranger who addresses her as Ms. will be annoying.
LOL. Sorry. Sure, why not? It's so easy to find an agent. Who wants one with a feminist tick.

What exactly is the outrage over "Ms."? Why would a feminist take offense to that term? What term would be preferable?

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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by Margo » August 5th, 2010, 10:33 am

John Dillon wrote:What exactly is the outrage over "Ms."? Why would a feminist take offense to that term? What term would be preferable?
I don't know. You'd have to ask her why she doesn't like it. She's one of the ones who prefers to be addressed by her first name. Others hate that.
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bcomet
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by bcomet » August 5th, 2010, 1:01 pm

There is also the matter of when the agent is not identifiable as male or female.
Dear IT? (just kidding)

Years ago, I would write:

Dear M. Lastname,

but I have amended that to:

Dear Fristname Lastname.

With titles, unless they are known, the idea is to be polite and even if you don't know the correct or preferred title,
using one is an attempt at politeness.
But using the formal "Dear" ahead of the name is pretty good etiquette I think. (Anyway, it is a measured safer method of opening a letter with someone you don't know as well as someone you know, and is considered formal good manners.

(And it sure beats, "Hey You, or "Hi Nat Dogg." or "Greetings Most Revered One," etc.)

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Mira
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by Mira » August 6th, 2010, 1:17 pm

I like bcomet's solution! And you're right. Gender can be hard to identify with some names.

So to be safe, referring to them by name: "Dear xxx xxxxxx." seems like a great idea.

Or, if you're like me, you can always go with the "Dear Lucky Recipient." That's rather snappy, and let's face it, extremely accurate, given that they are receiving a query letter from me.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: This may be a minor question.....

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 6th, 2010, 7:15 pm

You can't go wrong with Ms. You can go wrong with Miss or Mrs.

And if you don't know their gender, firstname lastname is a good workaround.

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