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.


Jackie said...

Hi Mr. Terry Burns,

My parents named me Jacqueline Elizabeth, but I've always been called Jackie. When I was small the neighbors had a big college boy named Jackie also. I couldn't believe my parents gave me a boy's name. For years I thought when I grew up I'd change my name to Jennifer.

Not to make a political statement, but when I was old enough to figure out who Jackie Kennedy was, I was so grateful to see a beautiful woman named Jackie that I gave up my dream of changing my name.

I'm impressed you're gracious enough to send requests addressed to Ms. Burns to other agents instead of trashing them. Very nice.

I hope you have a great day!

Linda Glaz said...

hahaha I was lucky. Not many boys names Linda. Thank goodness.

Jackie said...

Hi Linda,
You are lucky.
I named my sons Bill and Scott, and there's never been any confusion for them either.

Diana Flegal said...

Proud to know you Mr. Terry Burns :-)

Vie Herlocker said...

Oh, I understand your pain, Terry. My first name is Violet, but my parents always called me Vie (with an "e"). I often get submissions addressed to Mr., or the sender will think that I have misspelled my own name and they will correct it to read "Vic."

I enjoyed reading your post.

Joyce Hart said...

I figured out long ago that's why the Mr. was on your signature. Mr. Terry Burns sounds nice though.
About people following our guidelines, it's an everyday frustration to me. And of course we also get them addressed to "Dear Agent" or "to Whom it may concern" and I get "Dear Mrs Hartline" I sure wish people would look at our guidelines and then check out our agents.

Rick Barry said...

Yet, "Thor" has such a nice, solid sound to it. You could even add a theme song: "If I Had a Hammer." :)

In my case, all my life people glance at my name too quickly and assume my last name is a first name and start calling me Barry instead of Rick. Oh well.