I know better, but I made a mistake the other day in a story submission. I wanted to send a story to an anthology featuring strong women characters. The editor’s first name was “Roby.” (Let’s say the last name was “Doe.) I went to the market’s website, as I always do, and checked the submission guidelines and the section on “about.” There was no mention of Roby’s gender. Since I know a man whose first name is Roby, I addressed my email, written like a business letter, to the editor as “Mr. Doe:”
Big mistake. I didn’t hear from the editor herself, but from another woman at the market who took me to task for referring to Ms. Doe as Mr. Doe. I received a brief lecture on how I should check the website so I wouldn’t make such mistakes. She even sent me links to the website, which were the same ones I’d already investigated and which didn’t mention Ms. Doe’s gender.
Although I thought the lady’s response was rather out of proportion to my mistake, the truth is it was easy to avoid. All I would have had to do is address the letter as: “Dear Roby Doe:”
Because of a single moment of carelessness, I pissed off an editor and quite possibly lost a potential market. Don’t do what I did.