Yes, you’re judged by your spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
by Andy Scheer
Last week, several authors’ Facebook posts took issue with grammar-shamers. They wanted to be judged by their online substance, not their delivery.
They’re missing the point.
If an error — of any kind — distracts a reader from your message, then you’ve failed to communicate clearly. Authors are judged by their written words. Once you put out your shingle as a professional, anything you write can be used as evidence: for you or against you.
The same day as the Facebook rant, I saw this post from professional writer Bob Hostetler: “I don’t care how brilliant your meme is, if it contains poor grammar or a misspelled word, I can’t like or share it.”
And this from publishing executive Dan Baker: “Job hunting tip: Applying for a position at a publishing house? Try very hard to submit a cover letter that’s free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.”
A few posts below Dan Baker’s was this (in ALL CAPS) from a novelist:
DONE – SENT NOVEL TO MY AGENT TONIGHT WITH ALL IT’S CHANGES – TIGHTENING – DEEPENING – STRENGTHENING- and a BIG DOSE OF SIGH-WORTHY ENDING – whew –
Now I GET to write two syonses for the next to stories in the trilogy.
I hope her agent likes the syonses — whatever those are.
Not convinced? Consider this from Julie Powell in Cleaving: A story of marriage, meat, and obsession.
“Many people will argue that email … and instant messaging and all the rest of it have destroyed our capacity as a race for gracious communication. I disagree. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we’ve entered a new golden epistolary age. Which is another of the reasons I hardly ever use my phone as a phone. Why stammer into a headset when I can carefully compose a witty, thoughtful missive? With written words I can persuade, tease, seduce. My words are what make me desirable.”