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MJRevell
11-10-2010, 08:55 PM
I don't know about you, but my line of work usually involves emailing editors and pitching ideas. I normally start off nice and formal... Dear Mr, Dear Ms, that sort of thing.

But then if they write back with "Hi Mike", I start to use their name in future emails and talk in a bit more of a chatty tone. It seems the natural thing to do.

Now, how about with agents?

If you have had a request for a full, or if you have been emailing back and forth with an agent and got to first name terms -- and it eventually ends in (very nice) rejection asking for a look at any of your future work, what happens next time?

Is it right back to Dear Mr or Dear Ms?

ChaosTitan
11-10-2010, 10:54 PM
Now, how about with agents?

If you have had a request for a full, or if you have been emailing back and forth with an agent and got to first name terms -- and it eventually ends in (very nice) rejection asking for a look at any of your future work, what happens next time?

Is it right back to Dear Mr or Dear Ms?

From my own experience, I go right back to Mr./Ms.. Formality shows respect, and I preferred to leave it up to the agent to use first names first.

quicklime
11-10-2010, 11:09 PM
look at it from a straight Risk:benefit equation, and many things become somewhat clearer:

if I say "Mr.", am I going to lose anything for it? No, I can't imagine them sitting there and getting angry because they really wished I'd just call them "Mike". Do I gain? Probably not, but....


if I say "Mike", do I gain anything? I doubt it--like I said, I can't see that being any sort of a deal-breaker just because I called them by first name instead of title. On the other hand, there is a very real risk to calling them Mike, that they will assume I do not know how to write a formal letter, that I am trying to weasel and ingratiate my way into their good graces as a clueless kissass, etc.

No gain in either case really, but a first name carries much more potential risk, imho.

Toothpaste
11-10-2010, 11:20 PM
I wait to see how they sign their emails. So if it's "Sincerely Joan" I address the following email, "Dear Joan", but if it's formal, or the full name, I stick with "Ms. Smith" until told otherwise.

rugcat
11-11-2010, 12:34 AM
When I had back and forths, I replied using the same form the agent/editor/whatever used.

If I started start with Dear Ms Agent, I usually got a reply of Dear Mr Rugcat. But sometimes the agent replied with Dear John, and then I'd reply in kind.

My own feeling is that if an agent (or anyone) replies using your first name, it's an invitation to do the same -- and sticking with formality is almost like a rejection of their attempt to be informal.

But, really, I don't think agents care about such things one way or the other.

Danthia
11-11-2010, 12:54 AM
For me, a business letter is a business letter, so I'd stick to the formal Ms. Agent unless/until you've developed a more casual relationship or the agent indicates to refer to them another way (like in how they sign their name to you).

My reasoning is this. You won't offend anyway by being professional. You could offend someone by being too casual. Could it hurt you? If the book is great, probably not, but why start off badly?

MsGneiss
11-13-2010, 04:24 AM
I wait to see how they sign their emails. So if it's "Sincerely Joan" I address the following email, "Dear Joan", but if it's formal, or the full name, I stick with "Ms. Smith" until told otherwise.

Precisely this. I follow this rule in all my formal communications as well.