More Mistakes Beginning Writers Make
4. They Don’t Follow Guidelines. Every publisher has what we refer to as guidelines, which is a soft way of saying, “Follow these rules.” Beginners make mistakes such as single spacing manuscripts, no headings, no page numbers, or wrong font size and improper format.
Publishing has a standard format for submission. For book publishers, the rules appear in The Chicago Manual of Style, which is updated irregularly. Most magazine publishers use The Associated Press Stylebook.
Think of your proposal for a book or query about an article as your resume. You want to present yourself in your best light. It takes little effort for editors to see when the prospective authors haven’t followed the guidelines. Most of the time, those manuscripts get rejected before the editor finishes reading the first page.
5. They Bore Readers. Too many bad manuscripts come from people who think editors are yearning to clasp every word they write. They need to turn that around and realize they have to persuade editors to read them. I often say it this way: We have to earn the right to be read.
From the first sentence, they need to pull readers into their prose. Whether they seek to entertain or to teach, people read because of their perceived needs. Savvy writers focus on bringing solutions or answers.
6. They Love Exclamation Points. That punctuation mark is a shout. Here’s a question I ask new writers. “Do you want to read people who scream at you all the time?”
I understand their use because most newbies hear the emphatic sentences inside their heads, so they end with an exclamation point.
I suggest that they never use the exclamation mark unless readers won’t understand or they really do want to shout. I think of it as the mark of the amateur. Further, it’s never correct to use more than one ! or ?