Okay, so my name is Skye. Yes, I write as Melinda Skye, but my real first name is Skye. And, in case it wasn’t apparent, I am a girl. Woman, I should probably say, but despite being in my 30s and having a daughter, I still feel more like a girl than a woman. Please don’t yell at me if you believe I’m setting back the feminist movement by 50 years singlehandedly.
Anyway, I’m female.
Every Skye I know is female (and yes, I do know several. Two of them married men named Adam, for some reason. I didn’t, but then I’ve always been one for bucking trends). I don’t know if somewhere in the world there’s a large group of men named Skye that I don’t know about, but I regularly get addressed, via email, as Mr.
I don’t have a problem with it in particular, I mean, I guess there are plenty of Skylars and Schulyers and other variations on the name that are men, but to clear up the issue, I changed my email signature line at work to read Ms. Skye …. and figured, foolishly, that would fix the problem.
It doesn’t. I still get a lot of Dear Mr. letters IN RESPONSE TO EMAILS I’VE SENT, which have my signature line, which I find odd. Before, it was ignorance. Now it’s just plain rude to not be figuring that stuff out and replying appropriately. It is literally the first line of my signature.
I get that we tend to tune out signature sections, for me it’s because some of my correspondents have super obnoxiously long signature sections (as I do… got to love lawyers and their legal warnings), but if I have even the slightest question about their gender or anything about them, you can bet that I’m either going to check their email, google them, or stalk them online and figure it out before I send them something that makes an assumption one way or the other.
So this is my advice to you… be polite. If you don’t know what gender they are and you can’t find out without getting arrested for cyberstalking, then don’t use a form of address that specifies gender in your email. This is especially true when you’re submitting to editors and agents. I’d be willing to bet it isn’t the death knell for your query, but it’s certainly not going to put them in the absolute best frame of mind to read your query. I have an editor I’ve worked with for more than a year and I have no idea if they are male and female (hi Chris!) but I’m not going to guess one way or the other and be wrong.
My etiquette advice to you: Just don’t be an idiot and make assumptions. You know what they say about them? They make you look like an idiot (what, you expected some trite cliches about being an ass? Not here)