I love dogs. When I meet a dog in a friend's home or out and about, I am happy to talk to the dog, rub its ears and give lots of pets. I don't even mind dirty paws on my knees. But the time comes when I want to visit with the dog's person. Sometimes, the dog resists the loss of attention. While we try to talk, the dog nudges, scratches my leg, jumps up on me, whines or barks—you get the picture. The dog (maybe the pug above) simply will not give up. The result? Distraction that severely hinders communication.
It isn't the dog's fault. Its person needs to make the dog behave.
What does that have to do with writing?
Editors refer to mistakes in punctuation, usage, and grammar as PUGS. Such common errors as misused commas, wrong choices of homonyms, and basic grammar mistakes distract the reader just as a poorly behaved dog distracts from conversation. Multiple mental interruptions hinder the reader, who may even put a book down unfinished because of frustration.
At that point, the author's message is lost.
How do you make your PUGs behave? First, go over your manuscript carefully. Use your own knowledge base to be sure you have caught every error you can. Then, turn it over to a professional editor, not just someone you know who made A's in school or "is really good with English." Do yourself a favor, especially if you are going to pay to have your book published or if you are going to submit your manuscript to a publishing company for consideration.
If you spend your time and money to write and publish, isn't it worth paying a moderate fee to present your work so that it communicates effectively?
Think of it as obedience school for your PUGs.