Greetings to...whom??

My first round of queries to several well-known agents resulted in positive responses from their assistants.

The responses were essentially the same: "Joe Agent would be delighted to read your manuscript. Please sent it to the address below and we'll read it as soon as possible. Signed, John Assistant."

This may be a stupid question, but do I address the package and cover letter to the assistant or to the agent? I figure I should start the cover letter with a "Per John Assistant's email, I am submitting... Blah blah blah" so it doesn't get tossed in the trash or whatever... but I know how assistants in my line of work react when they think they're being dismissed by someone as
just being "the assistant."

What's the proper protocol? Does it even matter?

Well, it probably doesn't matter, but that doesn't mean you won't obsess about this.

I actually have this happen too. I'll call up the estimable Liz Scheir to pitch my fabulous new find "Space Ark" only to end up talking to her overworked and underpaid but deeply appreciated assistant Felix Buttonweazer. Felix, clever lad that he is, says "send it over".

My cover letter to Liz says "Dear Liz, I was glad to hear of your interest in Space Ark from Felix Buttonweazer on Thursday. Herewith. Send check. Love, Snarkles".

So, the short answer is you address it to the agent on the envelope and on the salutation but you reference the conversation or email exchange with the actual person you communicated with.


Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, maybe it's different for an agent, but I always address the letter or email to the person who contacted me. I feel it's more personal that way. And lately, all my requests have been thru email, so I just hit "reply" - and if it's an assistant, they get it. Plus, they usually say, "Can you send me such and such," so I do. If they said, "Could you send Ms. Big Wig the manuscript?" - then I would. Just makes life easier. And I like the assistants; they're so sweet.

Anonymous said...

I am so relieved to read this email and answer. Had a similar thing happen to me and obsessed about it for a day. I took the action Miss Snark recommended so I'm happy.

Judy Schneider said...

Great advice! Thanks for knowing that, even though we shouldn't, this is something we writers would obsess over. In fact, such a decision would likely call for some emergency double-latte meetings at Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

ok... i wasn't going to mention this before, but what's with the penchant for British punctuation, Our Fair Snarkleton?

Kara Lennox said...

I love assistants, too, but I once had a rather strange thing happen when I was agent-hunting. I queried Ms. Big-Name agent and got an enthusiastic response from the agent's assistant. I sent off the ms. (don't remember who I put on the envelope) but suddenly I found myself dealing not with the agent I wanted, but with her assistant, who offered representation. Apparently she was wanting to build her own stable of authors. But she didn't come out and tell me that. I found her a bit flaky and I was put off by the way it all happened. I indicated that I wanted to talk to the agent before I made any decisions and subsequently got a rather cold rejection letter.

I doubt this is a common occurrence, but something to be aware of, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

If I ever hit it big, the name, Miss Snark, will appear on my acknowledgment page as she's such a swell gal to put up with all of us.

Anonymous said...

Which bit of the punctuation's British? Just curious...