When I was little I memorized the way my mom would spell out our last name to people over the phone. Ready?
“B as in boy, R – A – N, S as in Sam, F as in Frank, O-R-D. BransFORD.”
My sister has a variation that emphasizes the SF in the middle, which is more comprehensible when you separate it out into BRAN – SF – ORD.
All of this is to say I know I have an uncommon last name that is a bit of a mouthful, and I don’t get up in arms when people misspell it in a query and I certainly never reject anyone for it. At least they’re in the ballpark (and below you’ll see why I’ll take a misspelling over some of the other results).
I thought it might be an interesting insight into the old inbox to show the rather incredible variety of ways people address me in a query. So I kept track for a week, and here’s the result.
Behold! Query salutations. During the past week I received 258 queries and requested 3 partials (all addressed properly).
Number of queries addressed to:
Mr. Bransford: 124
Nathan Bransford: 29
Mr. Nathan Bransford: 10
Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent: 2
Not so much:
To Whom It May Concern: 3
Nate B.: 1
Literary Agent: 1
Literary Agency: 1
Agent Nathan: 1
Mr. Branford: 1
Mr. Bradford: 1
Vicky Bijur: 1
Martha Bransford: 1
Ms. Bransford: 3
Curtis Brown: 1
Mr. Brown: 1
I fully understand that mistakes happen, and I want to emphasize again that I don’t reject anyone solely because they messed up the salutation. But this is really the absolute easiest thing to get right in the query, and it’s a tad eye-opening that 23% missed the mark.