Grammar is a Non-Issue. NOT!

My grammar skills aren't horrible but they aren't great either. How much will this hurt me when submitting something to an LDS Publishing House? I had a teacher once say grammar is for your agent and editor...don't worry about it. How true is that?

P.S. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the contest critiques. Any idea how long until we get them? I'm probably pestering/annoying you. Sorry.

That is so totally NOT true!

When you're writing your story, don't worry about the grammar. Get the meat of the story down. Focus on plot, characters, setting, pacing, sensory imagery, etc.

But before you submit, you MUST go back through and fix the grammar mistakes.

A million years ago, editors and agents were more willing to look at manuscripts that needed heavier clean-up. The world moved at a slower pace. There were fewer submissions so when they got a good story, editors and agents were willing to work with it.

That is no longer the case. With the advent of word processors, the relative ease of printing, the constant consumer demand for new and more books, the editor's job has changed. Yes, they still do clean-up work, but they have to do it fast. The cleaner the manuscript is to begin with, the less time (money) it takes to edit, the more likely it will be accepted.

If you know your grammar needs help, find someone to help you clean it up before you submit.

(Contest critiques—bad timing on my part. I forgot I had to read Whitneys and that I'd committed to another project in March. Working on them now.)


Annette Lyon said...


In one of his Writing Excuses podcasts, Brandon Sanderson said the same thing. He had a friend who insisted that he wanted to perfect his STORY and that the editor would fix the rest.

Brandon is now a huge name, while the other guy is still unpublished. I wonder why.

(And this is precisely why I'm teaching a class on this at the LDStorymakers class next week!)

Stephanie Black said...

So true. If an editor sees a bunch of grammatical errors, she'll never find out how good your story is, because she'll reject it and move on to something that won't require an incredible amount of work to fix.

Anonymous said...

I didn't believe it either. But this friend has an agent (no published book just an agent)--maybe that's made her lazy.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Another thing to add to this - when I see a manuscript full of grammar mistakes, it makes me wonder if that author is serious about their career. If they aren't going to take the time to send in their best work, is this something they really want, or are they just satisfying a hobby? I'm looking for authors who want to work hard and promote - I'm not looking for authors who are just dabbling.