First off, thank you very much to the talented and amazing Miss Snark, who was kind enough to link to me today. I actually think Miss Snark is a tactical mastermind who uses the links to crush her competition under the ensuing deluge of queries, but I am proud to say that I am still alive and breathing after quite the busy morning. Luckily Miss Snark’s readers seem to be as talented as she is, so it’s been a pleasure reading everyone’s queries.
A few of my more anal I mean astute readers have been kind enough to point out the poor grammar choices in my blog posts lately, and this of course has made me quite the sheepish agent because I so readily reject queries on the basis of said poor grammar. I’m a stickler for grammar, diction, and all those other topics that you should have been paying attention to when you were aiming a spidwad at the back of Suzy’s head in elementary school. A misuse of its/it’s or there/their/they’re is enough to send me scurrying for the rejection button (I don’t actually have a rejection button, but I like to imagine that I have a trap door like in cartoons that drops someone into the basement at the press of a button. And yes, these are the things I think about all day).
I liken grammar and diction and word choice to playing an instrument. No one can write a symphony without knowing how to play a note, and no one can write a great novel without a thorough and complete command of the English language. I think there’s a misconception out there that if you just have a good story it’s going to shine through and then a magical copyeditor will come along and correct everything. That’s just not the way it works — if you have grammatical mistakes or poor word choices in your query letter or your manuscript you’re not going to make it very far. And if grammar and diction are not your strong suits then you might think twice about your expectations for success as a writer. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy the process of writing and sharing it with your friends and family, but you’re facing a major uphill climb if you want to be a published writer.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to the 7,278 queries that came in as I was writing this blog post. (I’m exaggerating. Barely.)