Thursday, August 7, 2014
They call me MISTER Burns
Why do I include the Mr. in front of my signature block?
Funny you should ask.
I get a lot of submissions addressed to Ms. Terry Burns and instead of making a big thing of it I subtly allow them to spot it in the signature.
Often it is too subtle as any further communication suggests. But other than a small prick to my masculine ego it really doesn't matter. Or does it?
Actually it can as when it happens it is often accompanied by a submission a bit too feminine for me and I have to write back that it would be best evaluated by a female agent, or sometimes just pass it to a female agent with a note to the sender that I am doing so. Often they are wasting their time and mine when spotting the correct gender would have allowed them to target the right agent. Looking at my page on the Hartline site when they go to check the submission guidelines should be a clue.
What am I thinking? It is amazing how many people will submit something to an agent or editor without checking the submission guidelines. That's like trying to fix something on your car without looking in the owners manual or (gender specific) sewing up a dress without getting a pattern.
The problem is a name that is often used by either gender. Maybe I should pick me a gender-specific nickname like "Spike" or "Thor" that would not be mistaken. Or perhaps go with my middle name of Wayne, my son goes by his middle name.
But that ship has sailed. For over 70 years I have been Terry and I don't suppose I will be changing now. But if you are submitting and want to avoid the situation altogether just avoid the whole thing and just call me Terry.