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zclesa
05-27-2015, 09:15 PM
1. I have been submitting to agents with Dear [FIRSTNAME]. Is that a faux-pas? Should I use the surname instead? Does it not really matter? I'm submitting to UK agents.

2. When sending a partial manuscript as an email attachment, I haven't included a title page or put page breaks between the chapters (which you obviously would in a physical manuscript), as I'm assuming it wastes their time to scroll through. I've just put the title at the top and used line breaks to separate the chapters. Is that a bad move? I was trying to be helpful.

Aggy B.
05-27-2015, 09:30 PM
I used the agent's last name, because a query is a type of business letter. You probably wouldn't write a letter to the big muckitymuck of Google and say "Dear Dan" (or whoever it is that runs Google). I think a general rule of thumb with agents is that if they respond in a way that requires further correspondence (asking for a full or with questions about your query/partial) and sign the email with their first name that you can then address them that way, but it's kind of impertinent to do so right off the bat.

Your partial should be formatted according to standard manuscript format. (If an agent asks for pages pasted into an email, it's okay if it doesn't all show up perfectly formatted.) But if you are attaching pages it needs to be formatted just as it would if it were the full manuscript. Not doing so could look like you were trying to wiggle around the parameters of the request (squeezing in a few more paragraphs/pages by cutting out the blank space). And, in general, not using standard MS format is going to make you look like you don't know what you're doing.

I do think that my submission MSs (various partials and full) skipped a proper title page. I had the title about a 1/3 of the way down the page, byline, then a couple of blank lines, then Prologue. The rest was formatted as usual, including full pagebreaks between chapters.

zclesa
05-27-2015, 09:49 PM
Thank you Aggy. Actually I would probably address Mr. Google as Dan. I run a small business and always address people and sign off with first names. But, if it's not done in the submissions world, I guess I shouldn't do it.

Thanks for advice re formatting too.

cornflake
05-27-2015, 10:46 PM
1. I have been submitting to agents with Dear [FIRSTNAME]. Is that a faux-pas? Should I use the surname instead? Does it not really matter? I'm submitting to UK agents.

This is so rude. Sorry, but I cannot stand this. I'm not 70, and when I call say, the mobile company and the rep addresses me by me first name I will obnoxiously use the rep's first name until the person gets a clue. That's on the phone where the rep uses his or her first name.

In a business letter, in which you're addressing someone you don't know? Inexcusably rude - I would bin that immediately upon seeing the salutation.

2. When sending a partial manuscript as an email attachment, I haven't included a title page or put page breaks between the chapters (which you obviously would in a physical manuscript), as I'm assuming it wastes their time to scroll through. I've just put the title at the top and used line breaks to separate the chapters. Is that a bad move? I was trying to be helpful.

Don't include attachments at all. How do they know where chapters break?

cornflake
05-27-2015, 10:51 PM
Thank you Aggy. Actually I would probably address Mr. Google as Dan. I run a small business and always address people and sign off with first names. But, if it's not done in the submissions world, I guess I shouldn't do it.

Thanks for advice re formatting too.

It's not done in the business world that I've ever inhabited. It's just not correct etiquette, and it sure as hell not correct business etiquette to address people by their first names until or unless invited to do so.

kenpochick
05-27-2015, 11:06 PM
Agreed with the above. I run my own business as well and always address correspondence with Mr. or Ms. unless we already have a working relationship.

LJackson
05-27-2015, 11:39 PM
I do hope that you will not address Mr. Google as Dan, unless you two have passed the formality, and into the first name base. I frequently receive unsolicited emails from vendors hoping to sell us software, and if they address me by my first name, I won't even read the first sentence. That is the first indication that they are not professional enough to do business with us.

Querying agents might be different but that is simply not done in business dealing.

zclesa
05-28-2015, 12:02 AM
Don't include attachments at all. How do they know where chapters break?

In the UK, it's the norm to send attachments.

I do include page-centred chapter titles in bold letters or numbers, and with a few line spaces in between to mark them out.

zclesa
05-28-2015, 12:05 AM
Gosh, I'm really shocked that addressing people with their first name is considered so rude. I don't write "Hya Bob, How's it going?" The tone of the letter is always courteous and respectful, I just always thought using a first name was friendlier.

zclesa
05-28-2015, 12:07 AM
I do hope that you will not address Mr. Google as Dan, unless you two have passed the formality, and into the first name base. I frequently receive unsolicited emails from vendors hoping to sell us software, and if they address me by my first name, I won't even read the first sentence. That is the first indication that they are not professional enough to do business with us.

Querying agents might be different but that is simply not done in business dealing.

Maybe it's just the business I'm in. Or maybe it's just the UK. I get addressed, more often than not, with my first name in business emails and letters.

cornflake
05-28-2015, 12:13 AM
Gosh, I'm really shocked that addressing people with their first name is considered so rude. I don't write "Hya Bob, How's it going?" The tone of the letter is always courteous and respectful, I just always thought using a first name was friendlier.

"Dear Bob,' when you don't know Bob Smith is actually disrespectful, is the thing.

Not friendlier - rude as all get out, because you're not friends. At least you know now. :) Didn't they teach you to write business correspondence in school? In elementary, I think third grade, we did a whole thing on how to write letters and all had to pick a person in government and write said person a proper letter.

cornflake
05-28-2015, 12:19 AM
Maybe it's just the business I'm in. Or maybe it's just the UK. I get addressed, more often than not, with my first name in business emails and letters.

It's not the UK - that tends to more formal than the U.S., not less. Perhaps you're getting addressed that way because you're signing things or introducing yourself that way.

If you're introduced to someone like, 'Jim Smith, this is Bob Cornflake,' you're meant to say 'so, Mr. Cornflake, how's the cereal business?' Only if I said 'please, call me Bob,' would you do so.

If someone introduces you like, 'this is my boss, Bob Cornflake,' and you say, 'hello, nice to meet you, Mr. Cornflake, I'm Jim, from the almond milk board,' then, presumably, you'd be addressed as Jim in further correspondence.

zclesa
05-28-2015, 12:24 AM
Ok, thanks for the advice. I had no idea it was considered so impolite. I suppose with the type of work I do, it may be a bit different, and so I've got used to that. I'll make sure I use the surname with agents from now on.

Old Hack
05-28-2015, 12:31 AM
In the UK, it's the norm to send attachments.

I do include page-centred chapter titles in bold letters or numbers, and with a few line spaces in between to mark them out.


Gosh, I'm really shocked that addressing people with their first name is considered so rude. I don't write "Hya Bob, How's it going?" The tone of the letter is always courteous and respectful, I just always thought using a first name was friendlier.

Attachments aren't the norm in the UK as far as I've seen. Nor is it considered acceptable to address people by their first names when writing business letters. Even if your letter is always courteous and respectful, if I were you I'd use "Dear Ms Agent" and stop with the attachments.

Roxxsmom
05-28-2015, 12:31 AM
I live in the US, and it wouldn't occur to me to address an unsolicited business correspondence (which a query is) to anything other than Dear Mr/Ms. [last name]. And I always research to make sure I get the gender right (many agents rant about queryers who get their gender wrong or misspell their names).

If the relationship evolves into one that's more personal (say the agent requests a full and signs her or his own correspondence with their first name only), then I'd start using the first name.

Now, I don't know that all agents are put off by query letters addressed to their first names, though some might be. However, I seriously doubt there are any who would be put off by a more formal salutation. I'd rather err on the side of formality.

The important thing is to go to their agency website (or wherever the agent's profile is published) and check out their submission requirements, and follow them to a tee. Nearly all specify that they want material pasted in an e-mail these days, though a few I've queried (usually ones who want more than just a few pages or single chapter initially) still request or allow attachments (given a choice, I'd paste, since it's easier for them to at least glance at the pages that way if they're on the fence about the query letter itself. Attachments have to be opened, and there's always a chance that something could bog the process down or they just won't bother).

But definitely go with what they ask for, and if they don't specify, I'd assume they want it pasted in the e-mail itself.

EMaree
05-28-2015, 12:32 AM
Can confirm that attachments are A-OK in the UK. It's a little odd if you're used to the US format, but UK format (cover letter [initial e-mail], attached full synopsis and first 50 pages) is much larger than US format (query e-mail and first page/first five below the e-mail signature).

As a fellow Brit, my personal rule for e-mails to agents is: formal salutation title and surname for the initial covering letter (be VERY careful to get the title right), and formal salutation with first name when continuing correspondence after receiving a reply.

Before you start fretting about any letters already sent out: I don't think using [formal salutation] [firstname] is going to count against you too much in the UK, to be honest. Agents here are pretty relaxed about cover letters, as long as your 50 pages are good they'll accept a minor faux pas. But best not to do it from here onwards.

(Getting their gender wrong, or name wrong, is considered VERY rude though. Don't ever do that!)

I'm kicking myself because I'm sure one of the UK agencies actually included an example template for covering letters, but I can't find them anymore.

EMaree
05-28-2015, 12:39 AM
Attachments aren't the norm in the UK as far as I've seen. Nor is it considered acceptable to address people by their first names when writing business letters. Even if your letter is always courteous and respectful, if I were you I'd use "Dear Ms Agent" and stop with the attachments.

I've been skimming a few UK agencies before replying here: Blake Friedmann (http://blakefriedmann.co.uk/submissions/), Andrew Lownie (http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/fifteen_tips), Jenny Brown (http://jennybrownassociates.com/submissions), Greene & Heaton (http://www.greeneheaton.co.uk/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=25), John Jarrold (http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk/), all request the writing sample and synopsis to be attached to the covering letter e-mail. I know there's a few that have shifted to attachment-free shorter formats, and Curtis Brown uses a swish web form, but I think many of the older established agencies still ask for attachments.

mayqueen
05-28-2015, 12:45 AM
FWIW, I'm in the US and everywhere in the UK that I've queried has asked for the sample as an attachment.

LJackson
05-28-2015, 12:45 AM
Gosh, I'm really shocked that addressing people with their first name is considered so rude. I don't write "Hya Bob, How's it going?" The tone of the letter is always courteous and respectful, I just always thought using a first name was friendlier.

Nay. Addressing people by their first names is not rude. Addressing strangers by their first names in business setting is. I address my managers by first name. Heck, I address my vice president by his first name, but we have worked together, and long into the first name basis. In a more formal setting, such as the meeting where senior executives are present, I then address him as Mr. [Last Name]. In the hall after the meeting when everybody is just chatting? Right back to first name.

Again, I don't think you need to worry about the tiny mishap. I doubt agents are going to put your query letter straight to recycle bin for it.

EMaree
05-28-2015, 12:47 AM
Something I should've mentioned in my first post: Nicola Morgan's blog Help! I Need a Publisher (http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.co.uk/) and her writing books (https://www.nicolamorgan.com/category/publishing-advice-books/) are truly fantastic resources for the submission process in the UK. She often stresses how much of the process hinges on the fifty pages, and the synopsis, much moreso than the covering letter. I really, really recommend her work.


FWIW, I'm in the US and everywhere in the UK that I've queried has asked for the sample as an attachment.

Same here, with one or two no-attachment exceptions out of about 50 agencies queried -- thanks for chiming in Mayqueen, I haven't been querying for the last two years so I was worried for a moment that I'd missed a massive change in format.

mayqueen
05-28-2015, 12:58 AM
I remember because being from the US, it terrified me to do so. :)

Putputt
05-28-2015, 01:12 AM
Agree with everyone else about addressing the person as Mr/Ms. [Last name]. And I do remember it being the norm to send attachments of the first three chapters when querying UK agents, actually. Like Mayqueen, I particularly remember that because I can't forget the feeling of unease I had doing it, like I was doing something completely terrible and wrong. I guess I'm just so used to the US standard of NO ATTACHMENTS UNLESS ASKED TO.

Nymtoc
05-28-2015, 01:29 AM
I live in the US, and it wouldn't occur to me to address an unsolicited business correspondence (which a query is) to anything other than Dear Mr/Ms. [last name]. And I always research to make sure I get the gender right (many agents rant about queryers who get their gender wrong or misspell their names).

If the relationship evolves into one that's more personal (say the agent requests a full and signs her or his own correspondence with their first name only), then I'd start using the first name.



"Dear Barack..."

I suppose some people do start letters that way, but I don't recommend it--unless you happen to be a friend of his. A simple rule in business correspondence is to write Mr. or Ms. and see how the other person addresses you in response, as Roxxsmom indicated.

I've encountered a certain laxity in this regard when the correspondents do not know each other but are, to some degree, involved in the same field. When I was on the staff of a magazine I sometimes received letters from PR people (yeah, those folks) who addressed me by my first name. It didn't exactly bother me, but I would have preferred that they use "Mr." the first time around.

Laurasaurus
05-28-2015, 01:32 AM
For what it's worth, I've seen several of the (UK) agents I follow on Twitter being asked about how they like to be addressed in queries, and they've said 'Dear [first name]' is their preference and/or is absolutely fine. So I wouldn't worry at all about the ones you've sent so far, even if you do switch to using last names in the future. :)

Jennifer_Laughran
05-28-2015, 02:56 AM
I would not be put off in the least by "Dear Jennifer" "Dear Jennifer Laughran" or "Dear Ms Laughran" -- all my names, and I don't care. And I don't think most agents would be too worried about it either. I care about what is IN the letter, and I am 100% going to answer with YOUR first name, so... *shrug*

That said - I am EXTREMELY put off by "Dear Jenny", "Hey there, J-Bird!", "Hi Jen", "Dear Sirs", "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear SomebodyElsesName" ...

But as somebody above said, other agents may feel differently, and Overly Formal is probably better than Overly Familiar if you are unsure.

zclesa
05-28-2015, 02:57 AM
For what it's worth, I've seen several of the (UK) agents I follow on Twitter being asked about how they like to be addressed in queries, and they've said 'Dear [first name]' is their preference and/or is absolutely fine. So I wouldn't worry at all about the ones you've sent so far, even if you do switch to using last names in the future. :)

Phew! Thanks I'm a bit relieved to hear that. I thought I'd offended a load of people!

zclesa
05-28-2015, 02:58 AM
I've encountered a certain laxity in this regard when the correspondents do not know each other but are, to some degree, involved in the same field. When I was on the staff of a magazine I sometimes received letters from PR people (yeah, those folks) who addressed me by my first name. It didn't exactly bother me, but I would have preferred that they use "Mr." the first time around.

Nymtoc, yes I used to work in Journalism, so maybe that's where I picked up the habit ;)

zclesa
05-28-2015, 03:00 AM
Thank you Jennifer/Ms Laughran ;) I really appreciate getting it from an agent's point of view.

J.Reid
06-10-2015, 04:43 AM
What Jen said. And "Dear Mr. Reid" is the one that just squicks me completely. Other than that, I don't care. If you write a great novel you can call me Barack Obamakins if you want.

dda27101
06-10-2015, 06:54 AM
If I only knew…would have addressed you as Ms Obamakin. LOL
You’re tops in my book and made great suggestions after reading my mns. Interesting, they were identical with what two other agents said. Signed up with one, whom I consider the best editor out there.

Jamesaritchie
06-10-2015, 09:07 PM
If I get a business letter from a company I don't know, and it addresses me by my first name, I know they're either trying to sell me something, or they want a donation.

Nymtoc
06-10-2015, 09:23 PM
If I get a business letter from a company I don't know, and it addresses me by my first name, I know they're either trying to sell me something, or they want a donation.

What he said.

Mutive
06-11-2015, 02:13 AM
If I get a business letter from a company I don't know, and it addresses me by my first name, I know they're either trying to sell me something, or they want a donation.

Of course, with a query, they *are* trying to sell you something. (Well, sell you on something, I suppose.)

Chanda
06-11-2015, 02:47 AM
To me, it's like applying for a job. I wouldn't address my employer the first time I met him by his first name. That kind of familiarity takes time.

celoise
06-11-2015, 07:13 AM
Hmmmm, maybe it's just my nature, but I always say Hi (first name). They know it's their name. I sign my query with my first name. If me using their first name gets their panties wadded, then they probably aren't someone I want to spend massive amounts of time editing with, talking to, or working with. And vice versa. So it likely all works out, in the end.

IDK. Or maybe I do it that way because I was raised in a barn.

PS I also do it in my day job as a lawyor, unless I'm talking to a judge. A colleague, or an older lawyer, or a partner who's way above me on the ladder of lawyorness, and my clients -- I still address them all by first names and they do the same to me. Makes everything more congenial and not so stuffy.

But, whatever floats your boat, of course. If you feel more comfortable with the formal address, rock on with your bad self. I don't think there's a particularly "wrong" way to do it unless you start out with "Wassup Homeslice!" But that might also be considered quirky-cute, amiright? Different strokes.

Jamesaritchie
06-11-2015, 09:01 PM
Of course, with a query, they *are* trying to sell you something. (Well, sell you on something, I suppose.)

Yeah, and their response is likely to be the same as mine. No thanks.

thursdaymcgee
06-12-2015, 03:25 AM
I think some of the first name/last name thing is regional. I'm from the East Coast originally and would never in a million years have dreamed of calling anyone in any sort of authority position by their first name...but I've been in LA for 15 years now, and NO ONE calls people Mr./Ms. Anything unless it's an assistant talking to their boss. It took me years to not be weirded out by everyone calling me by my first name, but now, I address everything Dear FirstName LastName and find it weird when people address me as Mrs. SoAndSo... The only one I think is undeniably rude is instantaneous nicknames, because they're always wrong. The quickest way to get on my bad list is to call me Meg. I'm Megan.

MothAnkles
06-13-2015, 12:09 AM
It is absolutely the norm, these days, to send attachments with UK firms. Whomever says otherwise probably hasn't queried there in a while.

That being said, in both business (software/cloud services) and queries, I never do the Mr/Mrs Surname but lead "Dan,".

Your mileage may vary.

onesecondglance
06-13-2015, 02:28 AM
Fascinated by the first name / last name thing. I wouldn't think twice about using the first name - agents are people I want to develop personal relationships with.

I work in a large corporation, and it would be highly unusual for me (or anyone in the company) to refer to even our CEO as [title] [surname]. First names all the way. I also knew all my university lecturers on a first name basis.

I can see see where others are coming from, but I'd honestly find it weird to *not* use first names.

MothAnkles
06-13-2015, 06:00 AM
Fascinated by the first name / last name thing. I wouldn't think twice about using the first name - agents are people I want to develop personal relationships with.

I work in a large corporation, and it would be highly unusual for me (or anyone in the company) to refer to even our CEO as [title] [surname]. First names all the way. I also knew all my university lecturers on a first name basis.

I can see see where others are coming from, but I'd honestly find it weird to *not* use first names.

This is my thought too. Anyone who bristles at being (respectfully) addressed as peers is honestly not someone I want as a client, in a professional setting, or as an agent/editor. That's a bit of a red flag, I'd think, but that's just me.

AW Admin
06-13-2015, 06:07 AM
Gosh, I'm really shocked that addressing people with their first name is considered so rude. I don't write "Hya Bob, How's it going?" The tone of the letter is always courteous and respectful, I just always thought using a first name was friendlier.

The thing is though that the relationship between a potential client and a potential agent is a business relationship.

You're not friends; you need to be cordial but courteous. If said agent wants you to be more familiar, the agent will indicate that by the tone (and address) of their response, assuming they respond.

Toothpaste
06-13-2015, 09:27 AM
I guess the way I look at it is: fewer people will be offended by sending an email addressed Mr./Ms. than by their first name in a first correspondence. This is because people are far less offended by someone being old fashioned than they are by being too familiar. Therefore that's the route I'm going to go. It is the one that is lowest risk.

After that, depending on how they sign their reply, I augment my address. But you can't go wrong being a little old school. You CAN go wrong by being too familiar and seeming unprofessional. So yeah. My two cents.