Author Topic: Agent questions about pronouns  (Read 63 times)

Offline MJ

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Agent questions about pronouns
« on: April 07, 2021, 05:45:57 PM »
Hi, all. I'm perfectly fine with any agent saying anything in their MSWL or bio about what they want/don't want. But a couple of agents to whom I've sent queries recently have asked the open-ended question: "What pronouns do you use (or prefer)?" That makes me realllllly nervous. I know there is an answer they want, but I have no idea what. I can and will only say what I do use, but I wonder: Is this a common query tactic in the industry? Does it feel to anyone other than me like an ambush or an invasion of privacy? Cheers.
MJ

Offline Odd John

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Re: Agent questions about pronouns
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2021, 07:23:41 PM »
You might be overthinking this one. I view your circumstance in the sense that the Agent is simply being sensitive, open and flexible to the natural desire of each individual to be called what they prefer. It's just a proactive invitation to clarity. Note that ideally, this means that those of us who prefer to retain our traditional forms of reference also have the same latitude.

And note that in English even inanimate objects take the indefinite pronoun: "Why, look at all them Caddylacks lined up and buried in the ground, tail up and head down! They are sumppin' ain't they?"

I guarantee that everyone who read that sentence understood every word English of it. English is an odd duck.  :) :yes: :)


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« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 07:26:57 PM by Odd John »
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Offline raktinope

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Re: Agent questions about pronouns
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2021, 12:31:27 AM »
Agree with OddJohn that there is no "correct" answer. If you're not comfortable with the question, you can likely say "I prefer not to answer" and any sensible person will drop the subject.

Offline MKWrites_318

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Re: Agent questions about pronouns
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2021, 08:39:40 AM »
They're just asking because they don't want to misgender you, not so they can rule out certain genders. Agents who only represent people of a specific gender would be missing out on lots of opportunities and it is not an easy business. They really can't afford to be selective in that way. There is a possibility of transphobia, I suppose. But I feel like it's more likely that transphobic agents would make a point of not asking that question instead.

Anyway, there are some agencies now that add their pronouns/gendered salutations to their bios or MSWLs so that querying writers don't misgender them. KT Literary does this, so does Einstein Literary. By asking your pronouns, an agent is extending a courtesy to you. And I agree with raktinope, if you aren't comfortable giving your pronouns, that's totally your call. Just say "prefer not to say." If someone didn't tell me their pronouns on purpose, I'd understand that it's a fraught question for a lot of folks, particularly trans and nonbinary folks, and I'd just move on. No questions asked. They can refer to you by your proper name instead of a pronoun. No big deal.  :)

Offline MJ

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Re: Agent questions about pronouns
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2021, 05:12:21 PM »
All these are great responses, and I thank everyone. I think encountering the pronoun question in the 'Your book' section is what threw me off. I don't know why it wasn't in the Bio section, but there are only so many categories on the Query Tracker form and things end up where they end up. I'm glad to know it probably wasn't a social pop quiz!
MJ

Offline apcross13

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Re: Agent questions about pronouns
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2021, 08:12:32 PM »
I agree - this practice is more and more common, and is an indication of courtesy and respect. In many of the webinars and online professional development sessions I attend for work it is common for everyone to include their pronouns after their name in parentheses as a matter of course. https://www.mypronouns.org/what-and-why has some more information if you are interested - if you've gotten all of the input you'd care to, ignore it.

Offline Tabris

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Re: Agent questions about pronouns
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 06:43:01 PM »
If they want to know, put it in your signoff at the bottom.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Jane Doe (she/her)