Thursday, October 29, 2015

The rejection letter misspelled my name

I just got a form rejection from a very reputable agent with an oft-misspelled name. The initial query was in response to a Twitter pitch favorite. When I was writing my letter, I proof-read it at least a dozen times, and toggled between my email and the agency's site to make sure the name was spelled correctly and I wasn't committing any faux pas. So it was an extra punch in the gut to get a form rejection addressed to "Mr. [misspelled last name]" (re-gendered and misspelled).

As much as the fear to make sure there are no name misspellings (let alone gender mistakes) in my queries is pounded into me in agent interviews, on blogs, and on their submission guidelines, it makes me feel so much more like a disposable author in the eyes of an agent to have a churned out response that can't even pretend to care about salutation. Granted, my name is difficult to spell and can be any gender, but when in doubt, surely "Dear [full name]" or "Dear [first name]" is a good solution (and easier - just copy paste from the query). Since the query is solicited for once, the carelessness feels compounded.

I know it would be a bad move to respond, but I want so badly to (nicely) point this out because the agent may not be aware of how this reads to authors.

So I guess my questions are 1) Does a Twitter request count as requested material? 2) Am I crazy for being so bothered by this? 3) Would I be banished if I responded?

Wait, you've got your knickers in a twist because an agent responded and actually included your name (although re-gendered and misspelled.) This falls under Be Careful What You Wish For cause the alternative as I understand is vast swathes of silence.

Of course it's not good to misspell a person's name. Of course this was a careless mistake, most likely made becuase the person responding wasn't paying close enough attention. And do you really think this agent doesn't know misspelling an author's name is Not A Good Thing? Do you think this agent is a tree dwelling ogre with no experience among civilized folk?

It feels dismissive because you worked hard to get the salutation right.
On the other hand, the agent gets as many queries in a week as you'll send out in a year.

So here are the answers to your questions:

1. Does a Twitter request count as requested material: yes

2. Am I crazy for being bothered by this? No. But you need to get over it.

3. Would I be banished if I responded? No, BUT you don't want to be "that writer."  I remember the authors who write back to me with any sort of complaint no matter how justified. I keep track of the ones who seem particularly ill-suited to the rough and tumble world that publishing can be. Life is too short to work with people who take offense where none was intended.

This is why you need a dartboard.
(I have one in my office for just this reason.)

Put a photo of the agent on the dartboard.
Throw darts.
Repeat as needed.


AJ Blythe said...

The real reason Janet is not visible in images other than this one on the internet - she doesn't want to be a dartboard!

Opie, I understand your frustration, and kudos for you on making sure the agent's name was correct, but take it 2 ways:
- if it upsets you too much cross that agent from your list, or
- be grateful to learn the agent is human and keep querying them.

Good luck!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

A dartboard. Slippery fins. And scotch. And shut the door to make sure no one walks in-between.

Opie: Life is short. Yes, it's so easy to copy and paste so there is no mistake. Perhaps there's a new intern or assistant who's helping and learning. Perhaps the agent is rushed (as we all know, agents are overworked). Move on to the next set of agents to query.

I don't take offense at misspellings of my name. And I've had some humdingers.

french sojourn said...

Sounds like the old question..."Should I correct my waiter rudely before I get my order?"

I don't think this is a good train of thought for a writer, I would instead think..."How can I improve my writing?"
Funny we little woodland creatures are..running and skulking about imagining wrongs that don't matter in the grand scheme of things, let us instead worry about how the Movie marquee should look when our masterpiece is turned into an academy award winning....well you get the idea.

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

To me this question sounds like you've reached a point in your querying journey where too many rejections have gotten you down. I can see why you might be irritated with the misspelling, but in the grand scheme of things,, this is pretty little.

When the little things are pushing me to make them into bigger things, I realize it's time to step back. Take a break. Take some deep breaths. Regain perspective.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I would frankly prefer a misspelled, gender wrong response, even a rejection, than the whole cone of silence thing. I have received 4 rejections to date, 2 were clearly form letters "Dear Author" but at least they responded. I scratched them off my list (querytracker is a wonderful tool) and added another agent to my list for round 2 of my agent hunt.

OP, move on. There are lots of agents out there. To me, only the agent who ends up repping me must know my name, and I don't much care if he, she, or it spells it correctly. I will be so happy and honored to have caught one of those slippery buggers.

I would have been 1st comment this morning, but it seems the limes and tequila I smuggled into Carkoon have gone missing along with that little rat catcher stray kitten. I suspect Lynn (she has a blender), but isn't she in the slush pile with Colin? Also the kitten left behind what appears to be some kind of mechanical gears, one with a red 9 painted on it. Shuttle controls? It's going to be one of those days. I can just tell.

Kyler said...

Janet, I don't comment often, but rest assured, I don't miss a post. You are a delight. I've recently told two young writers that your blog is a must-read. Thanks for the daily laughs and enlightenment. Kyler

DLM said...

I've seen many rejections that just start with the letter, no greeting. This is so common in email, I don't even notice it anymore, though my emails always include greeting and closing unless I'm in the midst of a long thread talking politics with my Imaginary Alaskan Boyfriend. Gossamer is pretty strict on the formalities, so he stands over me (usually on my actual shoulders, back paws on the desk chair) and makes sure I maintain his professional standards.

Lisa B - "A dartboard. Slippery fins. And scotch." is a GREAT first line and I want to read the story that follows. (Also, I once had a humdinger of a *name* - it was Hungarian, and they had no fondness for vowels.)

AJB - Hee!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Years ago, I received a form rejection letter that said, "Dear _________." What was handwritten in on the blank line? "Lady."

So I was "Dear Lady."

Hmm, a "lady" wouldn't have used the words I did, venting my frustration around my living room, but hey, I can laugh about it now. :)

Colin Smith said...

Dear RWA,

This morning I received a query from one of your members, someone I believe to be in good standing, with a good deal of Flash Fiction Contest wins, and stories published in reputable journals. The query was in response to a request for pages at a conference, so it's not as if she didn't know who I am since she signed up for my Query Writing 101 class. So imagine the gut punch I felt when I get a query addressed to "Mr. [misspelled last name]" (re-gendered and misspelled).

What hurts even more is this is a great query, and the pages are better than I hoped. I have the perfect publisher in mind, and I'm sure they will offer a lot of money to get their hands on this. But what kind of relationship can I have with a writer who is careless and thoughtless enough to misspell my name?

I'm on the verge of sending a form rejection, misspelling THEIR name out of spite. What do you suggest? Might I recommend a lifetime ban?


My point: we all goof up. I have proof read queries meticulously only to find I misspelled an agent's name AFTER I sent them out. It doesn't happen often, but once is enough to amp the anxiety level. This agent rejected, but it wasn't a form rejection (in fact, it was an apology for taking so long to respond), and they didn't even mention the misspelled name (though you can be sure I didn't misspell it on my "thank you" response).

Agents are human. You wouldn't want them to judge you based on your rare moments of fat-fingeredness, so extend the same courtesy. :)

Steve Forti said...

"Life is too short to work with people who take offense where none was intended." That line applies to so much. So very true.

Ly Kesse said...

Well, as someone with a name that is often mis-gendered and mis-pronounced (usually too short to mis-spell), I understand the frustration.

Personally, I really don't care how anyone pronounces my last name. My first name is another story. (I don't 'Lie'; my name is pronounced 'Lee.') Really, over the years I don't get huffy about it. After all, people are just using English pronunciation rules; it's not their fault the name is not an English name.

But in something really really important, I just go with the flow. It's not worth the bad feelings that such pettiness might cause. Especially, if something larger down the road could come of this interaction.

Also, those who are 'begging' always need to be on much better behavior than those granting requests. There's a reason why the one dresses well for a job interview (a query letter & pages) while the hiring personnel can get away with sloppy jeans.

OP, save the tears for slights that are intended. As others stated, the agent at least addressed it to you personally. Better than the pit of yawning silence.

Dena Pawling said...

My query includes both my pen name, Dena Pawling, and my real name, a short-but-reasonably-common first name and a short-but-easy-to-misspell-and-mispronounce last name. About half the agents who sent me a rejection used my real first name. The other half used “Dear Author” or did not include a salutation at all. One wrote “Dear Dona”, which isn't either of my names.

My husband corrects EVERYONE who mispronounces our last name. I personally just ignore mispronunciations altho one time I did get berated by a judge in whose courtroom I appeared at least weekly for several years until he retired.

Judge: “You mean I've been calling you [incorrect mispronunciation] all these years and I've been WRONG and you haven't corrected me?”

Me: “I'm allowed to call you out when you're wrong?” Big evil smile. “Be careful what you wish for.”

This caused the judge to have so much trouble stifling a laugh that he had to leave the bench to compose himself.

I notice the new blog comment page footer. Appears the Shark is being proactive. For me, even the thought of commenting more than twice in a day gives me hives, so I'm okay there. However, this comment is almost 200 words. Oops =)

Yvonne Osborne said...

This happened to me once too and my knickers were seriously twisted. I didn't have a dart board but I was still able to get myself down to my favorite pub.

Colin Smith said...

Dena: I didn't notice the new comment rules. Ooops! I'm sure my first comment violated the first. Sorry, Janet! :(

And now I've used up my second. *snaps fingers*

Janet: Seriously--I understand and respect the rules. Or at least I will now. :)

DeadSpiderEye said...

What day was that again?

Dena Pawling said...

Colin, by their phrasing, the second and third rules appear to be RULES. The first one appears to be a guideline, and self-policing. You'll notice I still posted my comment, even tho technically too long, but I felt it complied with the spirit of the first rule, and the spirit of this blog, altho I might be wrong. Anyway, that's my take on it.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I didn't see comment rules until Dena and Colin pointed them out. I will be good from now on. *Hides under rock*.

Sarah G said...

I received a rejection email that started "Dear Paul,..."

Minutes later (before I could even consider replying) I received a second email. "Dear Sarah. I'm sorry I called you Paul. That shouldn't have happened...We're still not going to publish you though."

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I'd love to have rejection slip with a mispelled name. At least I'd have a rejection slip which means I'd surpassed my query-terror. The "that author" list sounds worse than Carkoon.

ProfeJMarie, said it nicely, regain perspective and Dead Spider Eye's video link made me laugh.

I'd say write it out. A snarc-nastic short story. Make sure you mispell the agent's name if you decide to query it.

Susan Bonifant said...

Been there, oh so many times.

As Janet Rundquist pointed out, it sounds like that simmer may be heating into a boil. Pull back, OP, and realize you may be dealing with cumulative frustration.

A perfectly addressed rejection would still sting. And, an incorrectly addressed email asking for fifty pages probably wouldn't have stung as much.

And Janet is right about skin density. Good that you reached out before you did become "that writer."

Laura Mary said...

I have grown up having to spell my surname, then I got married to a man with an even more unusual surname, and what did I do? Kept both names! I predict many a 'Dear Lady' rejection letter in my future!!!

OP There is nothing wrong with feeling like you do, you just need to choose your wallowing ground carefully (here is a good place, replying to the agent is not).
It's all well and good being thick skinned, but thick skins are heavy and I can only wear mine when I need to. Use yours as your professional armour, then come home, take it off and feel the feels. Have a moan, eat some chocolate, chalk it up to experience, and move on.
And the dartboard sounds like a wonderful idea!!!

Susan Bonifant said...

Sarah G...that truly made me laugh right out loud.

DLM said...

Ly, based on what you've told us and per the discussion of several days ago in the comments, you qualify for the guaranteed success the name Lee brings with it. Right!? Way to go!

I am sure I have sent a query with a name or title error because I was recycling the last one I sent that requested x-number of pages inline. Whether I followed up immediately with the apology/correction, I am not sure, but I probably did. Some agents are on record, they HATE getting a "Dear Mr. Reid" query (for example), but they know exactly why it happens too. Offense not intended - but then, a certain lack of quality control might affect the perspective on pages that are good but not necessarily urgently grabbing an agent's interest.

Donnaeve said...

Sarah G - I too, LOL'ed! Hooey, that was a good one, although if they hadn't corrected themselves, if I'd been you, I'd have had to reply just to ask - do you really mean "me?"

To the OP, this is a quibbling sort of worry. Others have already said more or less, so I won't repeat in different words. Get the darts out.

Ms. Janet, I wondered when you'd lay out a reminder re: the "housekeeping" post you did a few weeks ago. 100 words as a guideline ought to be easy, a la Flash Fiction rules. And a baseball rule to boot. Three times and you're OUT! :)

Craig F said...

Ah, the dartboard explains a lot. You are, however, still on my Christmas list Mr. Reed.

Unknown said...

I rejoice each time I get a query out without a stupid typo. Being dyslexic sucks. And it's amazing the words that pass the spell check.

Beth H. said...

OP: I relate strongly to your post. My maiden name was extremely uncommon, and is only one letter off from a much more common last name. My name was misspelled as the more common last name all the time. It was misspelled in professional contexts. It was misspelled on my senior recital program. It was misspelled in my brother's graduation program. I would spell it out every time I told it to anyone, and they'd still spell it wrong. It was awful. The regularity of the misspelling led me to change my name post-marriage. I probably wouldn't have bothered if I'd had a nice, easy-to-spell name.

All of that being said, I would let it go, for all of the reasons that Janet mentioned. It's going to rankle. Believe me, I know. LIke others have said, though, it's a better idea to just move on from this. Good luck with querying!

Laina said...

I get book review requests that spell my name, which is both in my blog title and in my email address, wrong, which kind of makes me side-eye whoever's sending the request.

Once, I got an email where they had been obviously going down a list and sending the same email to every blogger on a list, because it said Dear Lauren and her title... and I knew her.

The only time I think a correction would be in order would be if the misgendering was on purpose. Accidents happen. Purposeful misgendering someone, on the other hand? Not cool.

Susan said...

"Am I crazy for being bothered by this? No. But you need to get over it."

This is what I love: the acknowledgement that it's OK to be taken aback and/or offended when you've put so much work into researching and adhering to each agent's specific set of guidelines, but then the reminder that it's important to move on. Feel what you need to feel, but don't act on it.

I think the perceived slight becomes more powerful because of the fact that it was a rejection, but that only emphasizes how important it is to move on: that agent isn't the one for you.

Sarah: Thanks for the chuckle! Poor you, and poor Paul! It couldn't have been good for either of you ;)

Off Topic: There seems to be a couple of writers here participating in NaNoWriMo this year, so I've created a support group on FB for anyone who's interested in holding each other accountable. I hope it's OK if I post the link: I also hope Janet will forgive me for use of her likeness ;)

Colin Smith said...

Here's Susan's link Linkified:

And while I'm sure Janet would make an exception to the "minimum post" rule/guideline for me linkifying links, it's probably best if you are able to do it yourself. If you can't, with Janet's permission, I'm glad to help. But at least give it a go. Here's how:

S.D.King said...

A letter back from an agent? I would likely head to the frame store - who cares how my name was spelled.

Elissa M said...

I heartily agree with, "Life is too short to work with people who take offense where none was intended."

I'll go further and say, "Life is too short to take offense." Seriously. If someone is trying to offend me, it's easier and more satisfying to ignore them. If the offense is unintended, there's truly no point in getting upset about it.

I would consider a rejection that got my name and gender wrong to be a bonus because I like the idea that an agent might not remember a failed query when I try again with a new project.

Jenz said...

Colin said: "Agents are human. You wouldn't want them to judge you based on your rare moments of fat-fingeredness, so extend the same courtesy. :)"

It really is okay to be annoyed by this. But you have to let it go. I try to forgive others, because I want them to forgive me, too.

Elissa M said...


Thank you for the link (even though I've not tried to make a hyperlink myself). I bookmarked it. You never know when such things will come in handy.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Take it from someone who NEVER gets her name spelled right, it's no big deal as long as YOU don't screw up.
I write a column, I can't misspell names or my a## is grass. I have thousands of fact checkers, agent-lazy only has one, you. At least you got a reply, get over it.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Jenz, did you say Colin said agents are human? Where's he get that info?

LynnRodz said...

OP, you yourself said, I know it would be a bad move to respond, but I want so badly to (nicely) point this out.... Aren't you placing your frustration for being rejected onto the agent for misspelling/regendering your name? I'm sure if the agent had done the same in an email offering representation, you would be dancing a jig instead of fuming about something so minor.

I'm not saying you're not entitled to be a little annoyed, but to send a letter to Janet to see if it's okay to reprimand an agents shows it goes beyond that. In the scheme of things, there are a lot more serious problems to stew about, this is not one of them. Just my 2¢.

E.M. all I can say is I still have no idea where I am, but Mr. Colin Smith is not here. (I think I've used up my 100 words.)

Colin Smith said...

I'm cool with rule #2... not much more to say on the topic. But I did want to note that I'm still in Hanger 9. But there's something else in this slush pile box besides a bottle of Jack Daniels.

On the bottom-most queries. It looks like drops of blood. And strands of hair. Blonde? Janet's not blonde... Confused...

Ly Kesse said...

DLM: :) Would that that were true. Methinks I still need to work on stringing sentences together better.

Anyhoo, at times I think about using a pen name. The real one's a bit too distinctive. :) So if do I go splat, it really wouldn't be "You know...what's her name" when folks talk about my debacle.

Anonymity is sometimes safe.

But here I am, hijacking the thread. Sorry, OP.

Anonymous said...

Most people don't realize this, but America does have royalty. Her name is Princess Abigail Kawananakoa and she does get ouchy about her name being misspelled. I was cautioned to the extreme to get her name right when I did stories about her or her horses.

Unless the original questioner is a princess, I suggest they get over themselves. Be thankful you got a response so you don't have to wonder if no response means no interest or it means they never saw your query.

As long as they spell it close enough the bank would cash the check, I'm good.

Jen said...

You've got to have a thick-skin if you want to be a published author. Period.

Anonymammy said...

OP here to say that this is why I came here first. These comments are fantastic, so thanks to everyone and the incomparable Ms. Reid for screwing my head back on when I lost it in the glow of a gmail screen in a dark room at 3am.

Gendered salutations are my own little personal molar-grinder, so having you folks give me some perspective has been helpful to say the least. I’ve been querying in a state of fear for the past few years that one typo will send me down the oompa-loompa chute. Maybe if I’m not so hard on myself, I won’t get so invested in such minor bumps in the road. Time for a break and a breath…and some wine.

John Frain said...

Call it a quirk, but my name is spelled John, yet it's pronounced Lee. Blame the parents, I didn't get a vote.

When someone mispronounces it, my general response has always been to slap them, unless they have a cold. I guess what you're saying here is maybe I should rethink that.

I can change.

Janice Grinyer said...

OPIE, I find when I am stressed, items that normally I would pass off as innocuous become distracting. I remind myself it is important we stop ourselves and ask the important question of "why" does this bother me when an issue pops up.

Most times it isnt the offending act; its the act(s) that proceeded it. Humans can be a very forgiving lot, until they are pushed to their "fight or flight" response. By stopping myself from responding hastily means I have more energy to focus on solving the issues proceeding the offending act. And most times those issues have nothing to do with the person who may have accidentally misspelled my name. Avoiding "the straw that broke the camel's back" quote comes to mind.

BTW I am working, and have worked in Male dominated careers for over 20 years. From experience, analyzing the situation at hand from another's perspective before reacting can have a life saving consequence.

Susan said...

Colin: Thanks. I wasn't sure if that kind of HTML was allowed on here or if you magically fixed all the links ;)

Anonymammy: Be careful of those 3am thoughts--they're never up to any good. And good luck to you!

I'm finding myself suddenly curious who Janet has posted on her dartboard.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I haven't had terribly many query rejections, and I think most (if not all) did call me Jennifer. For short stories, many/most of them say "dear writer" or whatever, but considering a magazine's slush pile, I suppose it's forgivable. I have thought it "funny" that agents are so vocal on Twitter about the gendering/spelling of the salutations they receive, while rejecting with a nameless form. But not enough to get bent out of shape about; it isn't worth it, when there are so many legitimate things to get bent out of shape about! Like kidney infections (my first! I've been down for a week. I cry Uncle.)

Jed Cullan said...

The agent's motto: Do what I say, not what I do.

Amy Schaefer said...

Year ago, I received a request for a full via snailmail. (This was in the days of email - they just hadn't joined the party.) The agency used a photocopied form, and someone had filled in my name and the name of the manuscript. Except, it wasn't my name. At all. However, the MS name was correct, so I happily sent off the full anyway. If it had been a rejection slip I might have double-checked, but I would have accepted that, too.

My standard is this: is anybody shooting at me? If the answer is no, then whatever I'm getting annoyed about isn't that important. Save your energy for things that matter.

Anonymous said...

I'm writing under two names, my long-time online friends call me by nonsensical initials, and then there's my real name. Also, Mom. There are times even I don't get it right. Mostly I'm just glad anyone speaks to me at all.

Anonymammy, I know how frustrating this is. But it won't be the last thing that gets under your skin. And sometimes you just need to get the words out of your head so you can stop obsessing about it. So next time it happens, open up a Word doc, or better yet grab a pen and paper, something where you won't accidentally hit "send" -- and vent it all out. And then sleep on it. We all have our hot buttons. In general, I find it's best not to let the world know what they are. :) Hope the next communication you get from an agent is more positive!

Terri Lynn Coop said...

To the Opie:

In 2013, myself and many others got a rejection letter from a very reputable agency that was "signed" by an intern.

It was dismissive and condescending to the point of being rude. In essence, we were all told to quit wasting their time.

You don't think the urge to respond wasn't huge? Oh yes . . . .

So what did I do? WHAT DID I DO?

I got over it, moved on, and will not be querying that agency again. For lack of supervising their interns if nothing else.



BJ Muntain said...

Dear Mr. Mountain...

Yes, I get 'Mountain' a lot, written or spoken. Once, when someone wasn't sure how to spell it, I told her, "It's Mountain without the O". Letters from her office are now - you guessed it - to someone named Mountain.

My grandfather, in his 80s, realized he didn't have his birth certificate. He went to the statistics office to get it, and they couldn't find him. The closest they could find was a baby born in the town he was born in, whose first name was similar to his own, but whose last name was spelled Montagne. Turns out, the French priest spelled it that way at his baptism. He'd always wondered why he never received a draft notice during WWII.

Sometimes, it really does matter when someone spells your name wrong. Other times, not so much.

As long as your name is spelled right on the published book.

I'm sorry this is longer than 100 words. I had it written out before I realized there were new rules. I'll do better now.

Kae Ridwyn said...

@Opie - congratulations on having the confidence to query (from someone who doesn't yet!) and for using a venting outlet full of supportive woodland creatures. And good luck with the future queries!

@Sarah G - I too LOLed! But it sounds like you 'got over it', so good on you :)

@Colin - thank you for the 'how to hyperlink' link :) and yes, I too was wondering whose photo was currently gracing the dartboard of the QOTKU. Janet advises us to 'put a photo of the agent' on our own, but surely hers would be for other agents, would it? Maybe it's for vommenters who ignore the new blog commenting rules (or are they guidelines?) or perhaps that's the next place, post-Carkoon???

Janet Reid said...

TLC, that sound you hear when you tip your head to the left is me gnashing my fangs.

Please god tell me that intern didn't work for us!!

We did have an intern once who demonstrated initiative by writing his own rejection letters. When I found out, they had to scrape me off the ceiling with a spatula.

I fired the intern as soon as I regained use of my faculties and keyboard.


nightsmusic said...

At the risk of putting myself out there (stalker ex and even after 30 years!) my first name is Theo. That's it. Just Theo. I get however, Theodore, Theodoe, Ted, Ed, Eddie, Thed, Thad, Edward, Dear Mr *insert name of choice here* but never, ever Ms or Miss or anything that indicates that I am female. Which I am. Even the government couldn't get it right and sent me a draft notice which is a whole 'nother story in itself (the government doesn't like to admit mistakes...) And my married last name is Romanian and no one can ever pronounce it correctly.

All that is meant to tell you, get over it. Pick your battles, ones you're pretty sure you can win or make a difference with. This isn't one of them.

Donnaeve said...

nightsmusic...I do believe you've just provided me the name for my next MC in the next WIP. LOVE Theo for a girl! In my current WIP, the girl has a boyish sounding name. I just like different sounding names, or unique.

Anonymous said...

Nightsmusic, the advice to "pick your battles" is so apt. My sister-in-law was the first to tell me that, by way of parenting wisdom, when my kids were little. "Save your strength for the big stuff," she said. "You're going to need it."

Unknown said...

When I was younger, it really bothered me when someone mispronounced my last name as “Rude-en”. One of my former mangers pronounced it incorrectly for more than a year. It felt like he was kicking me in the stomach every time he said it. However, as I age gracefully, I find it somewhat funny. I simply correct the person who mispronounced it, which is usually followed by their apology and I stating that everyone gets it wrong with a pleasant smile on my face to easy their embarrassment. Now days, I am surprised when someone pronounces it correctly. I even tip a bit extra if my waiter or waitress gets it right.

nightsmusic said...


Just remember, Shirley Jackson used it in Haunting of Hill House but her name *was* Theodora, so...but no, that's the only story I've ever read where it's even mentioned in a female context. And I've never met another. I don't know if that's good or bad... ;)


Yup, that's been my one piece of parenting advice to anyone who has ever asked. It really came in handy too when my small child showed her true colors as a teenager and turned into Satan's Spawn.

Unknown said...

Using a dartboard as an outlet for frustration? Cool. I've got the perfect spot in my office to hang one. I'll take aim at the cover letter sent to an agent along with the requested material after a scheduled pitch session. She never responded, even after polite emails. I would consider a misspelled, gender mix-up, form rejection a step up.

Megan V said...

Agents reject manuscripts, not authors. There is, of course, one exception: agents reject author asshats.

To quote the overused lines from the Bard himself:
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Names matter, but they also don't. You can worry about improper address or you can revise your manuscript. Revise. If you refuse to let the small things slide, things might spiral out of control, and suddenly, you'll find you might be better off changing your name.

Unknown said...

One of the reasons I subscribe to this blog is that Janet helps keep the process in perspective, so that we don't all go crazy jumping through the hoops that many of us create for ourselves. Putting away the hoops now, and getting on with it. :-)

Jenz said...

Hey, I posted links for how to create links a couple of times before, and... oh never mind, I'll just show myself out.

Panda in Chief said...

My (real) name is often misspelled and pronounced incorrectly more often than it is pronounced correctly. I'd be glad to get an actual rejection instead of the cone of silence. But of course, a request for pages or even an acceptance would be better.
But we already knew that.
Loved Sarah's comment.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Janet -

No, it was more assuredly not one of your minions.


Unknown said...

Being professional works both ways.

Saying that an agent has a lot of queries to get through doesn't excuse botching an author's name and gender. That kind of logic would be akin to me saying, "I send out a lot of queries, so I can't be bothered to get the agents' names or genders correct, either." (Which is to say, that logic is ridiculous.)

I'd simply cross the agent off my list, make a note to avoid them in the future, and move on.

Would an agent let it slide you if you botched their name and gender? Likely not. Give them the same treatment.

It comes down to both respecting the agent, and expecting the same amount of respect in return. Otherwise, they're not worth forming a professional relationship with.

Think about it: if they can't handle a simple form rejection, what else would they screw up?