Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Snookums, no problemo; Agent Snookums not so much

Prompted by a post over at Nathan Bransford (yes, I had to double check the spelling!)

I too don't give a rat's ass what you call me in a query. I know other agents DO get hot under the collar about salutations so it's probably one of the things you want to get right.

What's universally wrong is Agent Snookums.

This is a usage that has crept into the lexicon and I'd like to take aim with my blunderbuss and wipe it out post haste.

Agent is my job. It's not my title. My title is Queen of the Known Universe and Don't You Forget it Bubbelah, but you can just call me Snookums.

Dear Agent Reid, Dear Agent Janet, and worst Dear Agent, are wrong. As in not right.

Dear Miss Reid, Dear Ms. Reid, Dear Mr Reid, I don't really care. Dear Mrs Reid creeps me out but I can live with it.

None of these kinds of mistakes mean I stop reading your query. But, if you like to get things right, this is one of the places to pay attention.

20 comments:

laughingwolf said...

arghhh! stupidities continue, and not just in the pub industry!

give em hell, janet! GRRRRRRRRRR

Tessa Quin said...

Now your inbox will fill with queries starting with "Dear Miss Snookums".

kathy taylor said...

You rock! If you were in the South, you'd be fielding "Miss Janet."

csmith said...

How about "May it please Your Majesty" ?

(yes, I did have to google the proper salutation for a queen)

:)

C.

moonrat said...

i especially appreciate how Mr. Reid is less scary than Mrs. Reid. i gotta tell you, i WAY prefer the Mr. Rat mistakes to the Mrs Rat ones myself. ::shivers::

Philangelus said...

I admit there have been times when all the research in the world is unable to unearth whether the first name indicates a male or a female or both or neither, and in those cases, I'd be tempted to do Agent Smith myself. :-)

(I would resort to Dear Firstname Lastname in those cases.)

Since there aren't many guys named Janet, though, "Ms." is a pretty safe bet for you. :-)

Simon C. Larter said...

I was thinking of leading with, "Hey, baby." Y'know, for variety's sake. I guess for the extra creep factor, I could go with, "Hey, Mrs. Baby." Yes.

David said...

Ms. is always the safest option if the agent is a woman. But on some rare occasions it's impossible to tell whether the agent is a man or a woman, even after Googling for an eternity.

"Dear You Sound Like the Perfect Agent for Me and I Wish I Knew if It Should Be Mr. or Ms. Reid" doesn't work, though.

Janet Reid said...

Dear GenderUndecertainFirst Name LastName is always correct in my opinion.

And we have this problem too when hearing about editors. Is Jordan a girl or a boy?

I always feel stupid calling a publishing company to ask, particularly if the switchboard connects you to that person: "hi are you a girl or a boy" renders "hi would you like to buy" moot.

My favorite place to look for gender specific pronouns are writing conference bios and interviews.

Failing that: Dear Jordan Snickerdoodle works just fine.

Steve Stubbs said...

I guess Special Agent Reid does not work either, huh.

Marjorie said...

I laughed when I read this entry. It triggered a memory of this week's episode of the TV show, "The Real Housewives of NJ."

This week, Teresa called Danielle "Honey." Danielle replied. "Don't call me honey." Teresa's comeback was, "Is bitch better?"

I suppose nothing would be worse in a query salutation than: "To Whom It May Concern."

Funny stuff!

Kathryn said...

Agree with @Steve Stubbs...

I'd kinda like the FBI status of Agent... no? :)

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Thank you for this post. I can't tell you how long I put off mailing my ms and syn because I was terrified stupid that I had left something out, or done something wrong. I have read too many posts from certain agents who said if they can't get my name right, it's an immediate pass. OMG. Some very, very nice people have gotten my name wrong before - I have never hired a hit man, or sank to the floor in a blubbering heap - I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Anywho, back to my ms. The day I packaged it up I checked the publisher's website to double check the name of the editor, telling myself, "There own website would be correct, wouldn't it?" Don't ask me why, but I decided to phone said publisher and guess what? The editor was no longer with the company. So there you go. And people wonder why authors are neurotic!

Tawna Fenske said...

Thanks for the idea! I'm absolutely going to start addressing my agent of 2.5 years this way.

Dear Agent, I dropped the contracts in the mail Friday, did you get them? Love, Client.

Tawna

The Huntress said...

Thank you. Even though you search and search sometimes it's a tough one. My quandry though is mostly with UK agents and their love of submissions departments and not having any subs addressed to a particular agent. Any tips on protocol there? I've been going with Dear Submissions Team as I haven't been able to find any clues on what else to put.

scarlettprose said...

Dear Agent,
I wrote this fantabulous book I want you to read but you're not answering the phone, so I attached the full manuscript o' awesomeness to this email. It's a stinking best-seller, if I may. Snatch me up soon, or one of the other 1500 agents I copied on this email will get me first!

Sincerely,
Maya Holzbigg

Josin L. McQuein said...

Isn't Agent Reid a character on Criminal Minds? You're famous!

jjdebenedictis said...

While I was still using my maiden name, being called Mrs. [X] freaked me out too. Dude, that's not me; that's my mom!

Joelle said...

Ummm...that last comment was supposed to be on the email post, not on the what to call you post. I should never comment before coffee.

Joelle said...

This is why I love Twitter. I can still "talk" to you, or tell you something you might want to know without emailing you. And other busy people too.