February 13th, 2008
Writerly Wednesday – Presentation IS Important

Writerly Wednesday

I keep hearing a statement from mostly aspiring authors that absolutely makes me shudder. There seems to be a belief that spelling and grammar issues are solely the job of editors and don’t need to be worried about by the authors.

It’s true that, when the rubber hits the road, we editors are responsible for correcting spelling and grammar issues. But failure to make your work the cleanest and best it can be possible before you submit it may mean you never reach that point. The editor (or agent) may never even request a full because their appreciation of your story may not be enough to balance the costs and resources neede to get it through the publication process.

The first thing aspiring authors have to understand is that your submission – be it synopsis, partial or full – is your interview for a contract. It’s what you will be judged on. Why would you choose to make less than the best impression you possibly could? Would you show up to interview for a modeling shot with grimy hair and say that’s the hairdresser’s job? Shooting yourself in the foot is not a great start to any venture.

Now, keep in mind that almost every submission contains some errors, that’s normal and expected. But a plethora of easy to find and fix ones tells me (accurately or not) that the author doesn’t care enough to do the very best job possible. That it’s not important to the author. Are they lazy? Are they going to be difficult to work with?

Another thing it tells me is that if I contract this work, it will cost my house more money to get it in shape for publishing than it would an equivalent story that is cleaned up and corrected. The longer I have to spend on it, the longer my line editors or proofers have to spend on it, the more it costs. Publishing is still a business and it’s part of my job to make the best use of my house’s resources as I can.

It also directly affects my ability to appreciate and enjoy the story. Like it or not, each time I see an error, it drags me out of the story and breaks my immersion. Too many times and I can’t follow the story very well and end up not liking it as much as I possibly could have. You don’t want to let mechanical errors get in the way of the story.

I want to strongly encourage anyone who submits a work for publication to utilize the marvels of spellcheck and the eagle eyes of a test reader or critique partner. Make your submission as clean and correct as you possibly can before you submit it and you will increase your chances of acceptance.

One comment to “Writerly Wednesday – Presentation IS Important”

  1. Here, here, well said!