Every Careless Word

 Yes, you’re judged by your spelling, punctuation, and grammar.IMG_7508 adj 2to3

 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.”

 

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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