PDA

View Full Version : How bad is my mistake?



DonnaDuck
02-05-2014, 08:58 PM
Last night I sent out a query to an agent with an interchangeable first and last name and I repeated the name to myself as I proofed my query to make sure it was right and hit send. Less than a minute later I realized I did what I was trying to avoid: I addressed it to Mr [first name] instead of Mr [last name]. I got the name right; I just made him sound like a first grade teacher.

The rest of the query letter is fine. I'm just kicking myself right now. I guess in the grander scheme of query letter mistakes this is pretty small since I still got his name correct but I feel like a turd. How bad is this?

Terie
02-05-2014, 09:05 PM
How bad is this?

My first name is spelled weird and is often misspelled. Unless it's a contract or a byline, I don't give a toss.

I once worked with a woman whose first name is spelled weird and is often misspelled, and if you spelled it wrong even on something as meaningless as a phone message you left on her desk, she'd go to your desk and ream you a new a**hole.

Point being: There's no way to know how this agent feels about it. It might be something he laughs off because it happens a lot, and it might be something that's an instant tick in the 'no' column. You just can't know without knowing him.

Fingers crossed it's the former.

Maggie Maxwell
02-05-2014, 09:17 PM
Basically, it depends on the person. Some people brush it off (my mom's name is misspelled ALL the time, she doesn't care), some freak out. Some agents may reject you for it, others may not even notice or bat an eye. In the grand scheme, it's one agent, and if the rest of the query is good enough and the story is good enough, an honest mistake shouldn't matter. Good luck. :)

Old Hack
02-05-2014, 09:19 PM
There's nothing you can do about it now. Try not to worry.

Phaeal
02-05-2014, 09:39 PM
You are now so dead to the entire industry.

Nah, you're probably okay. And as Old Hack says. Save your worrying for the next query, where it can do some good.

sheadakota
02-05-2014, 09:44 PM
I once addressed a query to Ellen Ethanburg :)

jimmymc
02-05-2014, 11:45 PM
At least you'll get his attention, you sneaky devil.

scifi_boy2002
02-06-2014, 12:02 AM
I don't think I ever got a name wrong on a query letter, but I did have a query that I sent to several publishers that had a typo in it. The funny thing is that some of the publishers ask to see my manuscript after reading it and one was ACE Books. So it may not be a big deal. I think most publishers would overlook a typo if the rest of the query was good and caught their attention.

Quickbread
02-06-2014, 12:45 AM
I once mailed a query partial to the wrong agent and agency. I about gasped when I heard on my home voicemail that an agent had called. Until she went on to say that I'd sent my package to the wrong agency. At least she was kind and gracious enough to call and let me know.

Luckily the world of agents isn't THAT small or unforgiving. I found another one. :)

Gravity
02-06-2014, 03:48 AM
I wouldn't worry about it.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Robert, Esq.:evil

thothguard51
02-06-2014, 03:55 AM
Could have been worse, "To whom it may concern,"

Nymtoc
02-06-2014, 04:46 AM
I get called "Mr. [first name]" all the time, because my first name is also a common last name. It annoys me, but I'm used to it and don't let it interfere with the interaction. In conversation (not possible in your letter), I sometimes let the first error go by but correct the other person fairly soon.

DonnaDuck
02-06-2014, 06:08 AM
Thanks, everyone. I feel a little better but I'm still kicking myself. I hate it when I make stupid mistakes.

Becca C.
02-06-2014, 09:59 AM
I got the name right; I just made him sound like a first grade teacher.

Heehee, this is cute.

I think you should be okay. He probably gets it all the time :P

hester
02-06-2014, 05:41 PM
Mistakes I've made while querying:

Wrong title in the subject line? Check.

Putting "Ms." instead of "Mr." and vice versa? Check.

Accidentally sending the same query twice to the same agent? Check.

In other words, what everyone else said--don't worry :). These things happen!

Jamesaritchie
02-06-2014, 08:34 PM
With editors, I've written what proved to be a good query, and I made sure the editor's name was spelled right, and then slipped it into the wrong envelope and mailed it to a different editor, at a different publisher.

Filigree
02-06-2014, 09:49 PM
In my second or third email to my agent, *after* she'd told me the story about her name getting mixed up with an author's name, I wrote the author's name instead of my agent's.

She laughed it off.

Mr Flibble
02-06-2014, 10:42 PM
I once addressed a query to Ellen Ethanburg :)

I was this l l close to doing the same!

It's going to depend on the agent. So sit back, try to concentrate on the next, and be glad you are not one of the legions who address a female agent as "Sir" or any agent as "Dear Agent". Or worse (Oh I have seen some real doozies!)

andiwrite
02-07-2014, 06:12 AM
I feel for you. I have terrible anxiety about getting names wrong. I will literally sit there and re-check the spelling like 50 times before I finally work up the courage to press send.

As others have said, it's an honest mistake and how the agent will react depends on his or her personality. However, if an agent were to get angry over this and throw out an otherwise good query, I don't think I'd really want to work with them anyway.

Stylo
02-07-2014, 08:23 PM
However, if an agent were to get angry over this and throw out an otherwise good query, I don't think I'd really want to work with them anyway.

Agree. Remember this is a two way process... you need to connect with an agent and feel that they are right for you as well as vice versa :)

DonnaDuck
02-08-2014, 07:44 AM
Agree. Remember this is a two way process... you need to connect with an agent and feel that they are right for you as well as vice versa :)

That's definitely on my mind as well. If I were to get a pass based purely on how I addresses a first name instead of a last that would be a pass I'd be completely okay with.

I work in a professional environment and I can't tell you how many times I've been called Diane or Diana. It's even funnier when they call me something that's not even remotely related. Like I've been called Linda before. Not even close but it's fairly obvious they were thinking one thing and typing another and had a multitask fail.

Forget my last name. It's phonetic and people still can't pronounce it. It might as well be Croatian for all the issues people have with it.

Susan Littlefield
02-09-2014, 08:43 AM
It's going to be okay. Mistakes happen. :)

Bloo
02-09-2014, 08:50 AM
I have a reverse first name/last name thing going on, after awhile you get used to it and understand that these mistakes happen.

J.Reid
02-23-2014, 05:38 AM
I called Lee Child's publicist by the wrong name for ten years. Introduced her by the wrong name for eight of them. Yea, I'm still mortified.

GingerGunlock
02-23-2014, 07:28 AM
I had a coworker who called our boss "Marie", "Mary" for the first month or so working there. She didn't realize until she was done training (with Marie) and heard the rest of us use the correct name. Our boss never corrected her....

Old Hack
02-23-2014, 11:43 AM
I called Lee Child's publicist by the wrong name for ten years. Introduced her by the wrong name for eight of them. Yea, I'm still mortified.

That must have been so embarrassing, Janette.

Years ago, as I walked into a dance centre in London I (literally) bumped into a gorgeous woman who was walking out. Her face was so familiar to me but I just couldn't remember her name. We said hello and chatted for a bit, and eventually my embarrassment got too much for me and so I said, "I'm so sorry, I know I know you but I can't remember your name."

She assured me it wasn't important, but I insisted she remind me.

"OK," she said. "My name is Diana Ross."

Gahhh!

She was really nice about it.

Filigree
02-23-2014, 12:20 PM
She might have been a little relieved to blend in so well.

Old Hack
02-23-2014, 12:48 PM
As soon as she told me her name I realised that she wasn't with a crowd of friends, she was in the middle of a crowd of bodyguards.

She was very gracious and kind to me.