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Why spelling matters

December 6, 2011

As part of my day job, I get pitched business ideas by email all the time. And while it should be an obvious comment to those who want my attention, it is not: Please spell my name correctly. (Oooh. I just got my schoolmarm on, didn’t I?)

Similarly, when you’re pitching the media about your book, make sure you not only understand and have read the media you are pitching, but have also spelled the recipient’s name accurately.

A reviewer called me to task when my book, Publicize Your Book, was first published, saying that telling people to spell correctly is an obvious statement. Wrongo.  So many among us just don’t get this right. Even the New York Times cops to it, 460 times in the first ten months of this year. And the blog Terribly Write documents it with a roster of misspelled names on Yahoo!

I had a terrific professor in college, Robin Winks, who taught a course called The Writing of History (and you’ll see an image of his marvelous book, The Historian as Detective, above.) There were lots of great takeaways from that class, which I still think about whenever I doublecheck the spelling of someone’s name. Professor Winks often reminded us in Very Firm Tones that we must spell names correctly in order to avoid offending those we are writing about and to be responsible historians. So often I think I’ve got a name right only to find I haven’t. So do take time to doublecheck. Or else your otherwise beautifully crafted pitch letter simply won’t get read.

And lest anyone is still wondering, “Hey what’s the big deal with spelling a name wrong?”, check out the hugely funny and indignant posts on this site. If you’ve ever misspelled someone’s name, you won’t again after reading it. Or on a deeply somber note,  read the Huffington Post piece about the 9/11 victim whose name was misspelled on the memorial. Misspelled as in etched into stone. Not good.

OK… I’m getting down from the spelling soapbox now. But do please tell me if you find any spelling errors on my blog. I shall be most grateful.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 7, 2011 8:05 pm

    dearest lady-of-letters

    couldn’t agree with you more.

    and we didn’t feel you were being a schoolmarm’ – we heard fearsome-editrix!

    #delicious.

    loving the blog. (btw, we just added a “follow us with bloglovin'” widget – check out our site to see – most useful little toggly thing….)

    _tg x

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