Almost every time I dip into slush, I find a query (or a dozen) that mistakes my name. I’ve gotten:
- Dear Editor
- Dear Agent
- Dear Andrea Brown
- Mr. Kole
- Ms./Mrs. Cole
There are also those people who spell is “Querry” or “Quary” or “Quarry.” (I don’t think I’ve ever gotten “Kwerie” or anything similar, unfortunately.)
Point is, this is a common mistake. What’s also common, though, is emailing immediately in a panic and apologizing for the mistake. Those emails are almost always panicked in tone. A recent writer even went so far as to say “I am beside myself.” (I know you are reading this and, for goodness’ sake, please don’t email me with an apology for the apology!)
I’m not going to reject you outright for misspelling my name. My name is an uncommon spelling of a more common last name. In fact, it’s that way intentionally and I like it. So I know it’s not “Smith.” And even people named “Smith” probably get their names misspelled all the time. These things happen.
If there’s one thing I hope you’ve taken away from my blog and my speaking engagements at conferences is that queries aren’t the end of the world. They’re a cover letter. If done right, they will make me more excited to read your sample. If done wrong, or if they contain a silly mistake, they will not end in your demise. I will always read your sample. And I’ve never offered a writer representation for their query-writing skills.
Please don’t freak out to such a degree that you feel compelled to send these frantic apologies. (To the writer whose apology I quoted: You aren’t the first this week, let alone today, to do so, so please don’t worry about it.) It’s okay. It’s all okay. Query mistakes and misspellings happen. I usually gloss over them and keep reading. The apology emails, if anything, just draw more attention to the original typo. I know that most writers do a careful job of researching agents and putting queries together. Errors happen. If that’s the worst thing to happen to you, I’d count yourself lucky.
There is never any need for panic or such deep regret when it comes to queries. Relax and tell us about your story. You’re the expert in it, after all!