I’m going to add a third certainty to death and taxes.
The last book I finished, The Associate by John Grisham, had a typo.
One of my favourite books of all time has a typo. (Sorry, Danielle.)
That crappy blog that I still read because I love what the writer is saying, that she is doing her best, for her, for now, has a typo.
That professional polished temple of entrepreneurial wonder-content, cleverly disguised as a simple website, has a typo.
That thrice-edited blow-the-budget professionally-published-in-print bestseller has a typo.
That on-a-shoestring first-time-attempt self-pub opt-in ebook has a typo.
That did-you-know-it’s-free-to-publish-on-Kindle 3000-word erotic fiction definitely has a typo. (Probably right in the middle of a really raunchy bit. Offputting much?)
That tabloid has a typo.
That broadsheet has a typo.
This website has a typo.
(“Not a good look for an editor?”)
Guess what. Everyone makes typos. The amateurs, the pros, the seasoned authors, the first-time writers, editors, marketers, me.
In editing others’ attempts at beautiful expression, we have a choice. We can choose kindness or cruelty. Humour or spite. Warmth or harshness.
I choose to help people keep writing. Not let my red biro run amok over their heartfelt outpourings.
Yes, enhance it, but…
I believe in kindness.
I believe in gentle.
I believe in humour.
Let’s drown them out with love.
If you want to point out mistakes in others’ writing, because you want to be helpful, because you know they’re trying the best they can, because you know they’d appreciate the correction (keyword ‘know’), here’s three things you can do to soften the blow.
Soften the blow in delivering bad news…
1. Start the email with what is working in the writer’s piece. What did you like? What should they do more of? How can you encourage them to keep writing, growing, improving?
2. Use gentle language that says “oh hey, by the way, it’s ‘their’ instead of ‘there’ in the third paragraph”. An ugh-don’t-you-know-anything tone is not cool.
3. Be very specific as to the mistake you’re correcting and where it is in the text, so they can go in and correct it. After all, you’re doing this to help them out. Not feel superior. Right?
Don’t be an asshat
(Good word, huh?)
If you don’t have something nice to say, if you won’t assist the writer gently, and if you are doing it because my-grammar’s-better-than-your-grammar, don’t send the email. Instead, do this very simple thing.
Get. A. Life.
It’s just a typo.