Think of it as one-minute professional development.
You spend time learning how to structure your plot, how to research and win an agent, how to balance life and career, how to market...the list goes on. Among all these writerly musts is the craft of writing itself. When an agent sees a manuscript with excellent grammar, it adds to the author's esteem. "Here’s someone," they think, "who took the time to master the language as well as tell a story." It’s a professional bonus.
You know who else appreciates it? Readers.
If you're going the traditional route, you'll be assigned an editor. The publishing house will make sure that your book is as error-free as possible. But if you're an indie or hybrid author, then it's largely up to you. You want to offer a quality product, to be known for your characters, story-world, and whiplash-inducing plots. You want people to talk about your book like it was an experience—but not about your typos and your grammar.
Of course, the best thing to do is to hire an editor.
I'm here to tell you I understand that it's expensive. Plan for it from the beginning. Budget for it. Research and find an editor you trust. And this: make sure your manuscript is as polished as possible before you send it off.
If you find someone who charges by the hour, realize that it will save you money if they have less to do. Sure, I might be shooting myself in the foot here, but I'm a writer first, editor second. I get it. I'm also a grammar nerd. (It's okay. I don't balk at the title. I bask in it. If you've read my bio, you've heard this before.)
I've decided to launch a new series: Get Your Grammar Fix(ed). Life is busy. Nobody wants to spend their spare time dwelling in grammar land—not even me. But I do love grammar, and I want to see it used well. Starting next weekend, I'll post a new bite-sized lesson each week. We'll cover sentence structure, verb tenses, comma splices, and anything else you need. I'll even address passive voice (as in not active voice). Dull writing skulks around introducing himself as passive, but we'll tackle him in a different post.
Understanding the rules and seeing an example are all you need to learn to do it correctly on your own. I believe all writers should know the language well-enough to bend—and occasionally break—the rules with flair.
Take a minute to bookmark this baby (and share it, too!) Let me know in the comment section what topics you need me to cover, and I'll do it. We'll never run out of grammar, but if there's something that's particularly irking you in your writing, and you can't nail it down, ask me.
Right now, if you sign up to follow the blog and comment below with a grammar topic or common mistake, Erynn and I will choose a random winner for a $5 Starbucks gift card. Jump into the conversation!