Mind your P's and Queries

I must admit I don't understand what greeting I should use on a query addressed to Submissions without breaking the use-the-correct-name rule. Do I go with "Attn: Representatives of the Big-Deal Literary Agency"? "Dear people"?How about "Hey, you guys"?

For any letter, in which you do not know the name/ gender of the person to whom you are writing, you may properly use: "Ladies/Gentlemen:" even if it's only one person.

If you know the person's name but NOT the gender, I use first person thus: Flotsam Jetson is "Dear Flotsam:"

And in a pinch, I've been known to use "Good morning"

Source of all etiquette advice: Grandmother Snark


Anonymous said...

How do you address a letter to someone who goes by a (very pretentious, if you ask me) first INITIAL plus a middle name followed by last name? Example: J. Jolly Johannsen. Is it "Dear J:" or "Dear Jolly" or "Dear J. Jolly" or "Dear J. Jolly Johannsen"? Surely Miss Snark encounters this with wannabe Pulitzer Prize winners in her never-ending slush pile.

litagent said...

Maybe it's old-school, but I never address an editor whom I don't know (and even those I do know, if they're much older or I don't know them very well) by his/her first name. For that matter, when I respond to a query I always address the writer by last name with the appropriate honorific (Mr., Ms., Mrs. - if it's clear from the letter that they are married, Dr., Professor, Rabbi, etc.) If gender is truly unclear I use the full name: Dear Flotsam Jetson.

If you don't know the name of the person you're writing to, do some research and FIND IT OUT. If all else fails, my fallback is "Dear Submissions Editor" -- but that is last, repeat, last resort.

M. G. Tarquini said...

For those hard to pinpoint genders, I google like mad and hope to heck there's an interview out there where somebody refers to the agent as 'him' or 'her'.

If one is told to submit only to SUBMISSIONS, is 'Dear Sir or Madam' passé?

Marlo said...

People are always certain of my gender, and half of them are completely wrong.

Much more annoying is mispelling my name, which happens constantly. In an era of easy copy-and-paste, this is beyond baffling; there had to be some effort to screw it up.