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Be Kind, Let Your Editor Unwind

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Be Kind, Let Your Editor Unwind

Hay House
Oct 08, 2010 at 03:15 AM 0 comments

“There are just two people entitled to refer to themselves as ‘we,’ one is the editor and the other is the fellow with the tapeworm.”

— Bill Nye


We didn’t get a chance to celebrate Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month in the last issue, so I’d like to take time now to tip my red pen and Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition to all fellow wordsmiths.

The dream of an editor is to polish all copy so it shines brightly whenever anyone reads it. And the quest of a writer is to keep his or her editors happy! In honor of Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month, I have some inside tips that may help all the writers out there to maintain flourishing relationships with their current and prospective editors. I asked our razor-sharp and talented editors here at Hay House to divulge the one grammatical violation, persistent typo, or writing faux pas that they wish would disappear from their deadline-filled universe. Here’s what they revealed:


Top 10 Ways to Make Your Book Editor Smile

  1. Refrain from being too possessive: One false move by your apostrophe and you’ll be a lot more possessive than you want to be! Be mindful of the difference between It’s (“it is”) and its. When you use it’s, make sure you can substitute the words it is or it has in your sentence. If you can’t, then use its. Examples: It’s time to say your affirmations. It’s been great working with you. The book is in its place.
  2. Avoid abusing pronouns: This has become a national tragedy as we hear people young and old saying such phrases as: Me and him are going to the gym or She visited the bookstore with John and I. Remember to use the accurate versions in your copy: He and I are going to the gym and She visited the bookstore with John and me. They may sound funny, but they’re correct.
  3. Don’t spill the beans on spelling: Your résumé will run screaming to the bottom of the pile when you send a note to your editor and spell his or her name wrong. Our editors have lost count of how many letters we receive from people who say that they are personal friends of, or have been longtime fans studying for years with: Louis Hay, Louise Hayes, Dwayne Dyer, and Wayne Dwyer. Editors will forgive a typo, but misspelled names spell trouble! (correct: Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer)
  4. Watch those Nouns Gone Bad: Sometimes authors go beyond just writing. They decide to create their own words. The most unusual we’ve seen are those standard nouns that are suddenly forced to go down the path of destruction and become a verb. When language becomes: “He languaged his ideas.” When source becomes: “The power that sources you.” Or when incentives become: “The products that will incentivize you.” Leave the conception of new language to the experts, please!
  5. Read and heed all submission guidelines: Editors take great time and effort to create clear, easy-to-read, and user-friendly submission guidelines and keep them updated on a regular basis. If you want your editor to be your friend, read these guidelines carefully and follow the directions explicitly. Editors have a special pile for letters that say, “I read your guidelines, but I’m still sending you this manuscript….” And it’s not the pile that goes on the publisher’s desk!
  6. Respect your local library: Yes, that’s LI-BRARY. We are baffled when this word is misspelled. And we cringe when grown adults who are newscasters, politicians, movie actors, and others believe that they can pronounce this word “LI-BERRY” and still maintain their credibility.
  7. Don’t misplace your modifiers: “As a self-help expert, my book shows you how to go with the flow.” Remember, the expert isn’t the book, it’s the author!
  8. Most important, leave out the “ly”: One favorite transitional phrase that editors see only too often is “Most importantly.” But here’s an important tip to remember. It’s incorrect! The accurate usage is: Most important, proper grammar goes a long way!
  9. Pay it forward, not Foreword: The Foreword is the front section of a book and is the most misspelled word in publishing. People spell it Forward, Foreward, and so on. Hint: It’s the “word” that comes “before” in a book. Get this one right and it will make your editor’s day!
  10. Ditch those “scare” quotes: This is when writers continually put those “air” quotes on paper around every word when you are trying to be ironic, funny, out there, or just plain cute. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, these scare quotes “lose their force and irritate readers if overused.” And yes, they will also irk your editor!

If you have any grammatical violations to add to our list, please write to us. You can also share your comments on our Facebook page. We’re already working on a sequel!

P.S. Just a reminder that we have several awesome events coming up for writers, editors, and authors to help sharpen your skills and learn valuable techniques for networking in the publishing world. These are: The Writer’s Workshop and Movers and Shakers, which will be held on our 2011 I Can Do It! Caribbean Cruise in January. Plus Lisa Fugard’s motivating and information-packed online lecture The Muse and the Inner Critic: Take Your Writing to the Next Level is now available for download.

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