Thursday, November 08, 2018

When Dear Snookums isn't Snookums at all

Dear Janet,

Ack! I just sent a query to an agent who I have been wanting to submit to for some time and accidentally wrote another agent's first name after "Dear." 

I know you've advised us over and over again to proofread our queries. I thought I had. The two names were similar and my eyes just flitted over that line as I was focusing on the body of the query that I had worked so hard on personalizing to acknowledge her posts at manuscript wish list.

Should I apologize? Or just let it go? 

Love, 
Felix


Dear Felicity,
I get queries for Jodi Reamer all the time.
Ok, not quite all the time. A couple times a year.
I pounce on them just in case I got it, and she did not

This works for me, particularly if the query letter is about something I'm interested in.  
I've often said I don't care what you call me if you've got something I want to read.
Some of my ilk are less clear-sighted and get quite tetchy if you get their name wrong.
Let's assume you've queried Agent Tetch.
You RESEND the entire query, with correct salutation.
You say in Line One: I'm very sorry I got your name wrong in an earlier query.
That way Agent Tetch knows this isn't a duplicate query.
That's when you've put the wrong name in the right query.
When you put the wrong name in the wrong query? That's when you query me and didn't intend to. Either you're querying something that's not high on my Looking For list, or I've already passed, or you think I'm an idiot and wouldn't sign with me if the only other offer was from Lucifer Nitpicker at The Devil in the Details LLC.
Then you write and say "gosh, I sent you a query that was intended for someone else. I'm very sorry."
Generally you do not want to query an agent you wouldn't be willing to sign with, much like I don't pitch a publisher I don't want to work with.
Bottom line: Resend with BRIEF explanation.

Any questions?

13 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

From my first byline it was drummed into me to get names right.
It wasn't because that's the way it is supposed to be it is because few get my first name correct. Carolynn with 2Ns isn't just because I have 2Ns it's because few people notice that it's a little different from the norm, as am I. (insert smiley face here)
I am always impressed when people get it right and when there's only one N, well they assumed wrong or didn't take the time to notice that I'm not like the rest.
Actually it's no big deal when it's wrong but a great when it's right. I'm babbling , off to pick up my one year old grandson for the day. He doesn't care what my name is as long as show up.

Ellen said...

Felix, I feel your pain. But note that if you have Gmail, there's a setting that will allow you to ensure that this doesn't happen again. It's called UNDO SEND, and it allows you to set the number of seconds an email hangs before heading out, giving you the option to hit cancel.

Good luck with your query!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

The new year is going to be so daunting with all these query pitfalls. I wonder if I should just beg forgiveness in everyone of them for an unforced errors I make all by accident by trying to follow all the rules and guidelines while spinning out of control on my rodent wheel.

Good luck, Felix.

Amy Johnson said...

Felonious: This reminds me of a panel discussion from years ago. One agent expressed really, really disliking when authors got her name wrong while querying. Another agent said she really didn't notice the name, and she was more interested in what the letter said.

Agent 1 responded to my query with a "Dear Author" form letter. (I'm not complaining--it let me know she'd received what I’d sent, and she had decided to pass). Agent 2 requested my full manuscript, and her rejection letter included my correctly spelled name and feedback specific to my novel.

Take what you will from that. Best wishes for successful querying!

Sam Mills said...

Last summer I finally qualified for SFWA membership. I immediately, gleefully added it to my bio paragraph, patted myself on the back for being a certified professional, and starting sending a batch of query letters.

A couple of hours later, I'm glancing over the last one before I hit 'send,' and there I see it:

I'm not a member of SFWA. I'm a member of SWFA.

Oh.

Casey Karp said...

Sam, I don't see anything there to be ashamed or embarrassed about. The Science Writers of Fictional America is a splendid organization. They were founded by Ben Franklin, and they long ago disassociated themselves from their Illuminati brethren. Or at least that's what they want you to think.

Anyway, I like what Janet says, especially the part about keeping the explanation brief. Remember, that explanation counts as part of your 250 or so words, so the more time you spend groveling, the less time you've got for your actual query.

Colin Smith said...

Sam: I'm sure it's not a big deal. However, the Star Wars Fanboy Association is waiting for their dues... ;)

BrendaLynn said...

I was thinking of the Sad Writers Feeling Apprehensive self-help group (not to be confused with the Sexy Writers are Frickin’Adorable fan club). I’m a charter member of both and attend their meetings on alternate weeks, depending on how the writing is going.
Hang in there OP.

Sherry Howard said...

I just QOTKU a ms name with letters reversed. I looked at everything but the title on the attachment. I blame my macular degeneration!

Craig F said...

As a conditioned response, I don't open e-mails that aren't sent to me.

However, I have one of those first names. The kind that isn't in the lexicon for a certain group of people. No matter how you slice it, the came comes out of their brain as Greg.

I was expecting something from someone and got like six e-mails to Greg from one unknown address. Their were several others addressed to Greg too. I didn't open any of them and decided my friend blew me off.

Those six e-mails were from him. He calls me Craig, but his brain spells Greg.

Beth Carpenter said...

Craig -- or else he's dictating and his phone thinks he's saying Greg.

NLiu said...

Craig: blame Google autocorrect. It thinks Jennifer Mugrage should be called Jennifer Migrate. (I think we'd rather keep her here though, Google, thanks all the same.)

Sam Mills said...

Now I have to join every one of those organizations to turn my error into a truth. XD