Dear... Miss Snark,
Why exactly is 'Ms. Snark' snarlworthy?
I know several women of a certain age (that 'certain age' being, in some cases, no more than 30) who think that being addressed as 'Miss' is condescending and shows they're not taken seriously. On the other hand, I know women of any age who think that being addressed as 'Ms' is condescending and shows they look old and/or divorced. (Don't ask how anyone can 'look divorced'.) To say nothing of 'Mrs'! That is, apparently, condescending, sexist, chauvinist, fascist, and shows they're not taken seriously AND look old. In other words, modern etiquette has become so tough one would prefer to stay at home.
Still, even if I were to find out the agent's marital status and age, and use a complicated mathematical formula to find out the likelihood of her preferring one title over another, I could never bring myself to address any woman as 'Miss' (or indeed 'Mrs') in a business context. Not even Miss Snark. And I hate, hate, *hate* the idea of starting a query letter with, say, 'Dear Seraphina Snark'.
But what is one to do if even 'Ms' can rub an agent the wrong way? Should I save myself from etiquette migraines by restricting my queries to the plain Misters?
Miss Petunia Paranoid`
Dear Miss Snark has nothing to do with everyone else and everything to do with the name on the masthead of this blog. IF the name on this blog was Snarly Snark you'd be quite correct to make no assumption of gender and say Dear Mr/Ms Snark, or Dear Snarly Snark, or even should the mood strike Yo Snarl.
However. Miss Snark, the literary agent should be obvious to anyone. Thus Dear Miss Snark.
The most basic rule of etiquette in social and business situations is you call someone as they ask to be called. Thus "Dr. Laura" even if that violates every rule in Emily Post's Big Book of Clue Cards; "Captain Janeway" rather than "ma'am", "Kid Rock" rather than Mr. Rock; and of course everyone knows the New York Times is having its own special kind of fun calling P. Diddy "Mr. Diddy" and 50cent "Mr. Cent".
Call people what they want. Ms is fine if you don't know. But, if you don't know Miss Snark is Miss Snark, you're Mr/Ms Nitwit.