Caroline Hogg has worked in publishing for almost ten years, at Little, Brown Book Group and more recently at Avon, HarperCollins. She's currently at Pan Macmillan as Senior Commissioning Editor for Commercial Women's Fiction. She knows her stuff!
Today's question comes from a Novelicious reader who asks:
Which grammar/punctuation crimes do you see
committed most often?
Caroline says: Ha ha! I sense a fellow grammar pedant has written this question; the word ‘crime’ gives them away… There are lots of common stumbling points when it comes to spelling, punctuation and grammar, and everyone has the odd trip up now and again (don’t tell anyone, shhhh, but I’m not an entirely perfect speller). ‘It’s’ when it should be ‘its’, the wrong ‘there’, ‘they’re’ or ‘their’ and finicky things like when you should use ‘enquiry’ or ‘inquiry’ are all common problems. When I see a manuscript, I’m not expecting a writer to be an absolute expert in punctuation and grammar but I do like to see writing that has obviously been edited and polished by the author (and their agent also, sometimes) as much as possible. So they’ve already caught basic typos, continuity mistakes and repetitions just by reading and rereading carefully.
A book doesn’t have to turn up on my desk so perfectly prepared that it’s ready to print (because that would put lots of us here out of a job, frankly), but it should be clear this is something the author has spent a lot of time and focus on.