It irks me when the "grammar police" shame people online for incorrect grammar usage. The English language is complex, and most of us aren't hip to all the rules. But when it comes to writing books, I am an advocate for grammar uniformity, and here's why:
I used to be a manager at a personal growth bookstore. All day, I watched customers interact with books. They begin by assessing the outside of the book, starting with the title. If it resonates, they will check out the front and back cover. If it looks outdated, homemade, or doesn't fit with the other books of its genre, it’ll promptly be returned to the shelf.
But when the title is enticing and the cover is fitting, the customer will then scan the layout of the book. If the font is peculiar, spacing is erratic, commas are missing (or excessive), or there’s random punctuation, the reader won't stand for it.
Some authors say if only ONE person benefits from their book, that's good enough. They're just happy it's been produced. That's a perfectly valid reason to become an author, yet if you want your self-published book to be taken seriously by bookstores and everyday readers, you'll need a team of professionals.
Some writers argue that grammar is nebulous and enforcing it is elitist. But in book publishing, the standard is Chicago Manual of Style. This provides clarity for readers and guidelines for authors. When hiring editors/proofreaders, be sure they follow this protocol.
Books are collaborative projects. They include ghostwriters, editors, designers, formatters, and proofreaders. These professionals are a gift to both the reader and author.
Proper grammar lets readers get absorbed in the message without visual distractions. It also prevents the author from being dismissed and invalidated without being heard, like what happens online when blogs and social media posts are grammatically flawed.
Want to be sure your book is easy to read?
I offer a free 30-minute session every week on Book Talk Tuesdays. We'll figure out what you need to start, continue, or complete a book you’ll be proud to share with readers.
An aspiring author contacted me about ghostwriting his book. After we picked a time to talk, he asked if I could send a text 30 minutes before our call to remind him.
Even though I said yes, I was thinking to myself, "You're a grown man in business. Set an alarm or something!" Later, I became curious to learn why the reminder was important to him.
When we spoke, I asked why he needed a ghostwriter. He said, "My business is successful because I stick to my strengths. I have dyslexia and ADHD, so I need someone to translate my words and help me stay on task."
I sat there marveling at the idea of helping industry experts and everyday people with dyslexia and ADHD to write their books. Heck, if they need a reminder before our meetings, that's an easy accommodation.
There are large numbers of intelligent and talented individuals with dyslexia. One in 10 people are estimated to have it. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that most often occurs in children, but can also be diagnosed in adulthood. About 4% of adults have it.
What limitations hold you back from starting (or finishing) your book?
I admire those who can name their limitations. We all have them. Productivity expert, David Allen, says, "You can do anything, but you can't do everything."
Book creation is no exception. There are teams of people who work on books--proofreaders, coaches, editors, designers, researchers, indexers, etc. Everyone brings a specific expertise that others do not possess.
Schedule a free 30-minute call with me on Book Talk Tuesdays. I'm here to answer questions about all aspects of your book--namely what's getting in your way. Together, we'll figure out how to get you closer to becoming an author.