Spelling and Grammar

I’ve run into this more and more lately. Authors will fine tune their book until it’s perfect. They’ll spell and grammar check every page. Then they ask others to look the novel over, to see if there are any problems. After all, who wants to send a book that isn’t perfect to a publisher?

That’s really wonderful. It’s quite disconcerting to read a book for submission and discover the author spells every other word incorrectly or has no clue how to use proper grammar. As far as I’m concerned, you might have a potential best seller in that book, but I won’t offer you a contract for it. Nor will many others in the publishing world.

These same authors often never bother to use those same stringent methods on their emails and social media posts. Imagine receiving an email where half the words are misspelled so badly that you have to read a single sentence several times just to understand what the person is trying to tell you. Or having mixed up homophones in a tweet.

Surely this doesn’t happen, you say.

You wouldn’t believe how often this happens. And it’s getting worse. It’s not just authors either. More and more, people are mixing up the use of you’re and your. They misspell words while attempting to use the small keyboards on smart phones and never notice that word is a letter or two wrong from what they wanted to say. Or their smart phone or word processing program auto-corrects the word they meant to use to another word.

Now imagine how everyone reads those posts and tweets after you’ve hit that send button. Not many will actually notice the difference, unless you are with a lot of people who make a living in the word industry. Then you can actually hear the gritting teeth, imagine the grammar police racing toward you with a lecture, or see the eye rolls.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be as perfect as possible in your posts if you are an author. A slip or two occasionally is fine. We all make mistakes. Consistent bad grammar or poor spelling skills will have people judging your book by your posts. And those people will think your book isn’t worth purchasing if it’s going to be full of errors.

But… but… but, you stutter. My book has been edited. It’s been proofread, and copy edited. There are no mistakes, or very few, in it.

Yes, I say, but how does your potential reader know that? They’re thinking about spending money buying your book. The only way they have to judge what the book is like beyond the cover is you and your posts. If your posts are grammatically incorrect or poorly spelled, you have just lost a lot of potential customers.

Instead of hitting the post or tweet button immediately, take a minute to proofread your post. Think about every word, how it’s used, how it’s spelled, and question if you have done everything right. Treat your posts like you would your book as you were writing it.

Once you’ve done this, you have taken a step in putting your best foot forward, and possibly attracted some new readers.


Jack Strandburg said…
KC - I couldn't agree more with your post. I don't know if it's because I'm a writer or simply a perfectionist by nature, but I usually treat Emails (even short ones) like they are going under scrutiny by an English professor. Written communication is critical, especially in our line of work and I believe more people will notice grammar and spelling than you might think. I once read a story (published no less) and marked it "not read" after only a few pages because I was dumbfounded (and quite surprised it was published) . . . almost as if it was written like a primer on "how not to write."

Good post and great advice.

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