4.04.2007

Pat or Pat

Dear Miss Snark,

Well, I started researching agents today and came upon a crucial question that I don't believe has been asked before.

Now, I know better than to address something 'Dear Agent.' But this person doesn't have a listed phone number, AND their first name is androgynous- let's say Pat. Patricia? Patrick? No idea. No phone number, so I can't ask.

Is it terribly inappropriate to address it "Dear Agent Pat Bellbottom"? And if it is, how should I handle this, since there's no phone number for me to call?

Thanks.



Dear Pat Bellbottom is fine. However, there's one step missing in your sleuthing process. Google the agent's name. Chances are you'll come up with some sort of bio from a writer's conference, a PW article, a media bistro article, something, that uses a pronoun.

I do this ALL the time when I'm getting ready to fling myself upon new editors. Actually I do it to all editors before I query I cause I still remember in vivid detail the horror on a colleague's face when I referred to an editor as 'she' and that was wrong wrong wrong. The only thing that kept me from self-defenestration was that I'd actually not called the editor yet.

14 comments:

Tracey said...

The first thing I do is jump on the net and find out everything I can about that agent before I send anything. You can usually find out what you need to know including likes, dislikes, what they are looking for and what they enjoy. And if the name is ambiguous - I search until I find out a hint of the agent's gender - usually there is a photo or bio somewhere. Most often on the agent's website.

Dan Lewis said...

This happened to me with a job recruiter. The name was Leilani Lawani. A Google revealed that they were from Ghana, but no photo. It was Dear Leilani Lawani from there out.

I didn't find out her gender until we met: female.

Anonymous said...

Here's a really specific one. On the Writer's House site Jodi Reamer is listed as 'esq', which I would normally take to mean male. Yet other references on the web seem to make it clear that 'he' is a 'she'.

Is this a trick to make sure people are looking beyond the obvious when doing research?!

Shyster Snarque, Esq. said...

Esq means "lawyer" not male.

McKoala said...

Thank you shyster! Now I get it. It's a language thing. In the UK 'esq' is used instead of 'Mr'. It's a bit old-fashioned, but it's still around.

inineydx said...

Two words: Ray Lincoln.

WOMAN.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Oh, man, I google everyone! How else can you really find their most up to date submission requirements and client lists and interviews by them, etc? If you aren't, you're denying yourself a really powerful tool.

Anonymous said...

This agent doesn't have a phone number listed? Doesn't this strike anyone else as a bit odd?

Anonymous said...

Even if the name appears to be gender-specific, don't assume. Two of my high school boyfriends were named Kim and Jan.

Jo Bourne said...

Dear Anon --

As to the phone number ... it might be you just haven't run across the listing. My own agent's address and e-mail can be found many places on the net, but I've seen her phone number only in one print source.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Dear Firstname Lastname. It may feel cumbersome or strange at first but you get used to it.

From an editor.

EGP said...

I really need to work the term self-defenestration into my next book :)

Anonymous said...

Jodi is, indeed, female, and an attorney. (And a minor diety, in my book! - she's my agent ...) The Esq. in the US means attorney, nothing more.

Chris

Sam said...

A friend of mine who has a gender-ambiguous name simply adds "Ms." where appropriate (e.g., her email sig) so that people don't have to ask or Google or flip a coin.

Dog bless folks who anticipate this question and make it easy on everyone.