I was at a networking event the other morning, chatting with someone about how I explain what I do. I realised that, in essence, “what I do” comes down to “saving people from embarrassment”.
– If you’ve prepared advertising leaflets, PR material or promotional goodies to give out to people, the last thing you want is for them to be laughing at your typos rather than marvelling at the products and services you provide.
– When you’re in your PhD viva, you want the discussion to be about your central hypothesis and results, not the glaring error on p. 523.
– People who read blogs (and I discussed this with a few people) do notice spelling and grammar issues. Even if it’s a personal or creative blog, you’re still putting your brand out there. If someone notices a lack of attention to basic questions of clear and error-free writing, are they going to trust your attention to detail in other matters? (before you start foaming at the gills about writing ability, see below)
– Your web page should be there to advertise you and your services/products. Sure, no publicity is bad publicity, but do you really want your URL bandied around the internet as a “funny” on an email to people’s friends and colleagues?
– Readers notice mistakes in novels and it disrupts the flow of their reading and jolts them back into the real world for a moment. As a creative writer, you want them to inhabit your world, not the world of people who scribble out grocers’ apostrophes with a marker pen!
I could go on… but, a word about writing ability. Yes, there are lots of people out there who don’t know the rules or have issues such as dyslexia. I am not criticising their ability or their right to express themselves in writing – of course not! But, if you know you have an issue or grammar/spelling/sentence structure isn’t your forte, get in touch with someone like me who can help you with that. Attention to detail encompasses knowing something is a little awry and calling in someone to fix it, not just writing the piece perfectly the first time.
December 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm
That’s a great way to encapsulate an editor’s job! We do save writers from embarrassing errors. If only we could convince more people that they would be better off having a professional take a look at their writing before releasing it into the world.