For authors who want to publish traditionally, this question often pops up: Do I need to hire an editor before submitting my manuscript to an agent or publisher?
As you might imagine, there are lots of opinions on this subject. And, like most things related to the art of writing, there is no one right answer.
Won’t an Agent Edit My Book for Me?
Some agents will, or they will send you to someone they trust to do a little spit and polish before they try to pitch it to a publisher. And that right there should be a hint that some professional editing prior to submission might be the right thing to do.
Finding a good agent, just like a publisher, is a competitive market. The quickest way to turn an agent off is to send them a book riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes or lacking in character or plot development. And once you’ve made a bad first impression, it can be hard to get that back.
Won’t a Publisher Edit My Book?
Undoubtedly. However, just like with an agent, if you are submitting directly to a small publisher (with no agent required) the same errors and mistakes in storytelling technique can keep you from landing a contract.
Don’t forget, publishing is a super competitive market, certain genres more than others. If a publisher has to choose between your book and one that has been to beta readers and an editor, which one do you think stands a better chance? Save books written by mega-star authors, publishers accept risk with every book they publish. You help lower that risk and make it easier for them to take a chance on you if your demonstrates that you are a professional write with some skin in the game. And trust me when I tell you, they can tell if you are sending them a draft over a polished manuscript.
Can’t I Just Use Beta Readers and Feedback Groups?
Well, that depends on how good your beta readers are. If you are lucky enough to have skilled writers or top-notch readers giving you feedback, you could very well use beta readers to your full advantage. Especially if they are the kind of beta readers who don’t mind pointing our spelling and grammar mistakes.