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Old 26th April 2006, 12:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Professionalism in writing

Hi again John,

Another question for you (not sure if I've said thanks by the way for answering all these - but thanks anyway. )

When writing drafts, it's obviously innevitable that grammatical errors and typos creep in all the time. The writer often doesn't see these which is why it's so very useful to have several sets of eyes look it over (i've had so great help here, I can tell you!).

Obviously you can tell the difference between silly mistakes and grammatical ignorance but my question is, how much do these sort of errors affect you when you read through the sample chapters? Do you tend to make allowances for that? Or do you see it as evidence that the writer could have taken more time and care to tidy it before it reaches you?

Thanks.
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Old 26th April 2006, 12:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

Definitely the latter. If an author doesn't treat their work professionally, why should a publisher or agent who is having to consider thirty novels every week? Getting all that right won't, by itself, mean an author will be taken on, obviously. But not bothering will raise a mark against a new writer.
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Old 26th April 2006, 12:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

Thanks John, I thought that would be the case. That can be a terrifying prospect though. I don't know if this is a common trait amongst other writers, but I'm quite paranoid about that. The fear is that there's always some hideous error staring out from the page that's obvious to everyone else but me.

It seems that each time I look through a draft, I'll find something in there that isn't quite right, and I often wonder if there's ever a point where you can truly reach a moment of real satisfaction - I suspect not! Or is that just me? It's a good job I enjoy writing!
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Old 26th April 2006, 01:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

In terms of the actual writing, I feel it can be like a painting. You don't finish a novel, you just stop working on it. But I always suggest that newer writers put a book away for at least a month when it's finished, then read it again with more objective eyes. This may also help to see technical errors.
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Old 26th April 2006, 03:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

If (like me) you're worried about the technical standard of your writing, then there's always the possibility of joining a high-level crit-group, or else even just post something on the chronicles critique section. Even just doing the latter has helped me re-evaluate what I'm doing, to try and make the work stronger.

And once you're past that stage and you think you're ready for submission, you could always take on an editor like John Jarrold to evaulate a couple of chapters for you, and either highlight any issues of concern from a publishing point of view, or else provide guidance on how to simply polish it better.

I don't know about anyone else, but I plan to submit only after some third-party editorial guidance. I need to know I've reached the highest standard I can before submission. Otherwise I'm simply in danger of wasting everybody's time if I leave in simple mistakes, that create an excuse for an agent to reach for the standard rejection slip.
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Old 26th April 2006, 06:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Jarrold
In terms of the actual writing, I feel it can be like a painting. You don't finish a novel, you just stop working on it. But I always suggest that newer writers put a book away for at least a month when it's finished, then read it again with more objective eyes. This may also help to see technical errors.
John, I love that sentence You don't finish a novel, you just stop working on it. Most published writers I have talked to feel that way.

Might I ask what do you think of the upsurge in Print on Demand publishers? Is it just another form of vanity press trying to snatch the unsuspecting want-to-be-writer's money, or is there a place for such, for books that would not otherwise make it into print?
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Old 5th May 2006, 03:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

Might sound like a silly question, but: is it possible to become a writer even if, your not the best speller or perfect at grammar?

If you love writing and attempt to correct them as best you can?
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Old 5th May 2006, 05:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

That's one of the points John underlined earlier - if you're aiming at published markets, you need to show complete professionalism.

To paraphrase John, if you can't be bothered to polish your script, why should an editor be bothered to give it their consideration?
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Old 5th May 2006, 10:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

I meant if you try to and use all the resources you have i.e. computer reading software to read it so you can make sure you don’t misread and editing it 4 or 5 times to try to make sure everything’s perfect and asking close friends to read it but due disabilities you yourself aren’t normally very good at English. Not the whole can't be bothered part. As in reaching the limits of English ability but your imagination out weights it.

For example will publishers auto reject if there’s a few errors, even if their not glaring.
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Old 6th May 2006, 09:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

It's more the point that there are ways to try and check your work - getting third-party validation for one, such as a good critique group or pay for editorial services.

At the end of the day, publishing is a business - it's about selling products. To try and enter such markets you really need to ensure that your book - your product - is the highest quality you can make it before submission.

2c.
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Old 9th May 2006, 09:36 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Ask your publishing questions here

Quote:
Originally Posted by violetann
Might sound like a silly question, but: is it possible to become a writer even if, your not the best speller or perfect at grammar?

If you love writing and attempt to correct them as best you can?
Yes, you really do have to try as hard as possible to perfect both your work itself and your presentation. An editor might receive thirty books in each and every week of the year, and to be honest bad presentation is a reason to turn them down quickly and get on to the next one. And please, never say 'I've tried my best but I know it's not perfect' - because I'm afraid that will simply be seen as an excuse by an overworked editor.

So take as much time as you need, and get your friends to read, re-read, correct and so on. Getting it right is far more important that getting it there quickly.
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