Every author has a unique voice; however there are a few rules that must be followed to ensure their message understood. The biggest problem with “indie” or “self-published” authors is that their stories may be great, but their editing and style are poor. If you are one of the brave and patient authors submitting your work to publishers, you need to make sure you follow basic rules of grammar or your precious manuscript will surely earn a rejection slip.
The days of judging a book by its cover are long gone. Websites such as Goodreads and powerhouses such as Amazon put the power of the buyer in everybody’s hands. While a slick cover may draw me closer to take a second look, I’m going to read over a few reviews before I spend a cent. If I see a single review that mentions grammar or editing, I usually pass the story over. There’s far too much crap being bumped into the digital cesspool these days, and just because you can type up a story doesn’t make you an author in my book.
A true author loves the craft of writing. They respect the written word. They understand that a properly edited manuscript is easier to follow. If you are an “author” who is just out to make a quick buck, go fuck yourself, then shoot yourself, or jump of a really tall bridge so all your guts blow through your abdominal wall when you smack the water. If you are a person with the passion for telling stories, or sharing your knowledge, then we should be friends. I’ll buy the first round of coffee.
It may seem redundant to tell an “author” that there are rules to grammar; after all, if they are as passionate about their work as I am, then they surely would have known this. But if you are a new “author” or an “aspiring writer”, then you need to focus on your grammar.
Grammar and editing go hand-in-hand. If you know anything about grammar, then you may have spotted some of my intentional boo-boos already, which I included just to see if you were really paying attention. If you dropped out of high school, or never went to college, but you still plan on writing a best-seller, you’re going have to really enhance your game if you want to compete with all the writer’s out there with degrees in English and Literature.
The Chicago Manual of Style is one of the best known guides out there when it comes to properly formatting your works. My personal favorite is The Elements of Style, which I had to buy in 8th grade and I’ve kept a copy on my desk ever since. There’s even a Microsoft Manual of Style if you’re interested.
No matter which style guide you choose to follow, just pick one. In my experience, most of the important rules of usage, principles of composition, and approaches are very similar. Just as some people prefer a McDonald’s hamburger to Wendy’s hamburger – I mean it’s just meat in a bun after all – some authors prefer one style guide over the other.
So, pick one, any which one; I don’t really care. But the people who will care are the editors where you submit your work. When you stop using misused words, master your split infinitives, and get your commas in the correct spot, you may notice your work gets accepted a little more often, if after all of that, you still managed to write a solid story.
“How do you write a solid story?” You may ask. Well, once you know the difference between tortuous and torturous, and where to stick a semi-colon, I’d say you’re off to a good start.