Monday, October 23, 2006

Let's Clear This Up Right Now

So apparently in order to stop the deluge of emails, I must clear this up.

Mr. Agent
Mr. Agent Agency
1000 Broadway Avenue
New York, NY 10002

The FIRST LINE is to indicate what agent you want it to go to within the agency. The SECOND line is to indicate which agency you want it to go to. The THIRD and FOURTH lines are the address, which tells the United States Postal Service where to send your letter by those mysterious numbers at the end.

If Mr. Agency Agency has subagents you are querying, you write it like this:

That Sub-Agent Who Never Comes In to the Office
Mr. Agent Agency
1000 Broadway Avenue
New York, NY 10002

Then we know who the letter is supposed to go to. If you write the address correctly, you do not need to add the word ATTN:. We are not going to say, "This seems to be addressed to the sub-agent, but I'll show it to the boss, because I am no smarter than a monkey with a severe neurological disorder."



Anonymous said...

I can't believe it's even that big of a deal. I work in the medical industry and mail going to and from doctors, billing, insurance, etc. always uses ATTN even when not necessary. Why? Because it's professional. It is the professional way to address a letter. So why then, would an agent care if it's used needlessly in an industry in which PROFESSIONALISM is preached in PROFESSIONALISM every other PROFESSIONALISM sentence. Just look at PROFESSIONALISM any agent's PROFESSIONALISM website, you'll see PROFESSIONALISM that 95% of PROFESSIONALISM agents and PROFESSIONALISM editors demand PROFESSIONALSIM from their clients. So why not practice it at every turn? What's the harm? Why would something this insignificant even register as an annoyance to an agent/assistant who claims to be busy to even care? I don't mean to attack you Rejector, because I like your blog, this entry/rant just doesn't seem logical to me.

Rashenbo said...

Oh man... I can't believe you had to "clear it up". Hahahaha

Rashenbo said...

Ok, I just had to respond to the post by anonymous. Using the term ATTN is not necessarily the all get out sign of professionalism. And if you think it is... then I would probably enjoy reading one of your "professional" letters.

I've worked in hospitals as well, so I'm familiar with the medical field. (That doesn't really qualify you as the expert for professional correspondence, by the way.) I know that in sending a question to the insurance company someone might write:

Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Member Services
Attn: Kathy Whatshername

This is done because the company is so huge it has numerous mail/sort facilities. Multiple people can be handling the mail and having the note helps them identify the department/other mail room. I think using "ATTN:" or not using "ATTN:" is at your preference. If there are only 20 people receiving mail... then you can just leave their name.

Same thing with c/o (which means care of if you didn't already know) - the post office may say using c/o is more technically correct.

Allow me a moment of repetition: I don't think using "ATTN:" is the defining note or sign of professionalism. I doubt agents really pay that much attention to the envelope anyway.

When I write a letter I identify who the letter is to and if they are with an agency, I place the agency under the name. Nice, neat, professional.

I work in HR... the same kind of thing applies with resumes. I personally prefer to see resumes come in either with HR on the title line or my name on the title line, then the company under and then the address. I experience not one iota of care if you use "ATTN" or not.

Kimber An said...

You're too funny, Rejecter! The sad thing is newbies get so much conflicting advice on how to handle these things. My advice is to newbies is to do your homework and try to do exactly what the agent wants and not what Joe-shmoe who self-published his memoirs of potato farming 30 years ago says. Agents' blogs are a treasure trove and many agencies have their own websites too. Study them carefully before submitting. Also, check out a manuel free from the library on how to write business letters.

Bernita said...

A writer does not always know how many people are in an agency or what the mail-sorting procedures are.
It should not be a killing matter.
Why get knicker-knotted over something so insignificant?
Declaring it "stupid" IS a bit over the top.
We can be stupid enough over much more vital issues.

ORION said...

I had to laugh. ATTN is (I think) sometimes a writer's way of trying to circumvent the system. It's right up there with always putting REQUESTED MATERIAL on their envelope. (wink wink nod!)
Whether intentional or not it can look amateurish.
Best to let an outstanding query letter and dynamite first pages send you to the top of the reading pile rather than tricks or subterfuge.

writtenwyrdd said...

You made perfect sense in the first post, Rejecter.

I also have to disagree with Anonymous. If you address something as "Mr.X/ Attn: Mr. X" - which is Rejecter's original example - then you look scatterbrained. It is also not a format that is in any business letter example I've ever seen.

One could, however, address something to Stone's Publishing Agency/ Attention: John Stone" or "Stone's Publishing/ Attn: Ms. Mary Kelly" but you'd be better served to do it the traditional way: "Mr. John Stone/ Stone Publishing Agency." That's the standard business format; and following the standard business format is what makes you look professional.

Anonymous said...

Business schools often teach that the first line of the address is called "the attention line" and that it is perfectly acceptable to place "ATTN" before the person's name--even though it seems terribly redundant to our modern ears.


ATTN Joe Agent
Agency Name
Street Address
City, State, ZIP Code

writtenwyrdd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Rejecter said...

Anonymous, you may want to check your computer settings, as they seem to be adding the word "professionalism" in caps in random places in your text.

Anonymous said...

Why in GOD's name are we deconstructing the use of ATTN, and trying to decipher it's connotations and/or implications?!? I was merely pointing out that using ATTN is a generic symbol of prefessionalism and that it shouldn't matter if it used needlessly. I don't know what you scored on your reading comprehension tests in school rashenbo, but I never ONCE claimed or even implied that ATTN was the "all get out sign of professionalism", not even close. I was just pointing out that that may be why many authors use it, not as an attempt to circumvent assistants. ALso, I never came close to pretending to be an expert on correspondence, so I don;t know why you thought that. Also, saying it looks amateurish, my god! Any agent who were to actually see the ATTN and immediatley throw down their coffee mug, point at the envelope , and scream "HAHA AMATEUR, HA! WHAT A NOVICE!" is not really someone I want to represent me, so I'll continue to use it when sending partials/fulls to agencies with multiple agents...anyways, this is ridiculous to even argue about, so I'll stop now.

Anonymous said...


I know, I've PROFESSIONALISM contacted IT about the issue, but those eggheads PROFESSIONALISM can't figure it out. Computer repair PROFESSIONALISM is a subjective business, however, so I'm PROFESSIONALISM sure it will get fixed PROFESSIONALISM by someone else. Wish me luck in getting this PROFESSIONALISM issue resolved and in my future computer use.

writtenwyrdd said...

Rejecter, if this keeps up you might consider forcing non-anonymous posts.

Anonymous said...

I have used Attn: when sending to a specific agent in a larger agency and it never once crossed my mind that it would bypass the "lackey". Just being professional. I will still do it becuase I still think it looks professional and you should feel free to disagree, but not every "stupid" thing we do is meant as a personal insult to you.

The Rejecter said...

I'm just sayin', a lot of people obviously do it to try to get around me, the same way they write "requested material" when it isn't requested material, or they use an envelope from their company so it sort of looks like a non-query. Doctors and professors seem to do that a lot.

Rashenbo said...

I dunno, I just think it's humorous to see the discussion continue like it is. Your post came off strong anonymous. Be prepared for reaction when you do that.

I personally think this is a silly discussion and don't see why it matters to anyone. If you spend your job looking at envelopes and eventually you get annoyed by the way someone addresses it... then you get annoyed... I don't care. If you want to use ATTN, use it. If you don't, don't. But if someone says... "gosh, I get annoyed when someone does this." They can say it and I'm not going to shove "professionalism" down their throat.

Obviously enough people reacted to this that Rejecter had to make a second post about it. So even though I don't care... apparently plenty of other people do.

Anonymous said...

It's not the fact that she was annoyed. It's that she labeled the post STUPID things people do. (Being professional by default is hardly stupid. Annoying? maybe. Amateurish? Maybe. But not STUPID, stupid is sending homemade cookies covered in white powdered sugar along with your submission. Stupid is handwriting your query with a crayon and then folding it fourteen times to stuff it in the tiny envelope you stole from Hallmark. Stupid is not writing ATTN on your partial/full.)

Rashenbo said...

Ah, looks like we are just debating the semantics now. The ole you say toMATo and I say tomaTO.

"Stupid" means different things to different people. I was fine with the way Rejecter used it. It must have struck a wrong chord with you.

Just to offer a reminder: here are some of the common ways "Stupid" is defined - dull, senseless, pointless, annoying or irritating...

No worries though, a good debate can be fun, even if it's over semantics. Funny how we react to someone else's reaction... even when the event doesn't really matter at all.

Anonymous said...

I agree. This is fun. I got fired today from spending too much time on this blog.


Rashenbo said...

No way!! Did you really or are you pulling our chain?

If you did that totally sucks!

JimFreedan said...

" I'm just sayin', a lot of people obviously do it to try to get around me, the same way they write "requested material" when it isn't requested material, or they use an envelope from their company so it sort of looks like a non-query. Doctors and professors seem to do that a lot."

I don't think it is amateurish because, as was already pointed it, it is an acceptable method of addressing a letter to a business that has MULTIPLE employees with mailing boxes.

Is it not correct that an agency with multiple agents has multiple mail boxes for each agent?

I don't think any writer is putting "ATTN: Agent X" as a means to bypass the assistants. They are just trying to use a business mail address format so the person who picks up the mail knows what box to put the stuff in. Everyone with google knows most agents don't read their own queries. If someone was trying to bypass the assistants they would be trying to put something like "Requested Material Enclosed" on the front. Or calling the office.

Again, putting "ATTN" is for helping the mail clerk know where the letter needs to be shelved, and nothing more. Most people don't even know how large of an office agents' have, let alone how their mail room operates, so it shouldn't be unusual to see "ATTN" on the letter.

JimFreedan said...

"Just to offer a reminder: here are some of the common ways "Stupid" is defined - dull, senseless, pointless, annoying or irritating..."

Sorry but unless English is not your native language, "stupid" is defined as "lacking intelligence" when it is applied to things that a person has done.

Therefore, it is meant as a very direct insult.

Anonymous said...

Look. Here was the original wording Miss Rejector took exception to:

Agenta McAgent
ATTN: Agenta McAgent
Agenta McAgent Literary Agency

There is a redundancy in the first two lines. She's pointing that out. Since when is it "professional" to do something bone-headedly impractical?

Chop the first line, keeping your beloved "ATTN" intact, and all shall be well in your teeny, tiny world.

Another Writer said...

My father worked for the USPS for 30 years. I worked for the USPS for 2 consecutive summers.

There is absolutely no need to write "ATTN" anybody on an envelope that is already addressed to a specific person. In fact, the bottom line of an address is supposed to contain the zip code. That is where postal workers are trained to look first...bottom line, zip code. Gets your mail there faster.

There is nothing "professional" about using something that isn't necessary.

I agree with Ms. Rejecter on its "stupidity." :)

Kendall said...

Yeah, it seems unprofessional--well, just plain silly--to repeat a name on two lines, one with "Attn:" and one without. I don't understand the confusion. I learned two ways of addressing envelopes, neither one the way The Rejecter rails against:

John Doe
The Doe Agency
1234 12th St.


The Doe Agency
Attn: John Doe
1234 12th St.

BTW, great blog, Rejecter!