As a new author, like many others, I attempted to go the traditional route to publication before my transition into an Indie writer. The query letters had to be just right, to get the agents’ attention, but not too over-the-top. The agents I found required completed, professionally edited manuscripts, making it clear that the agent’s purpose is not to be an editor.
So if accepted, the agent finds the contacts in the publishing companies to sell your work to. Who are the contacts? Editors! But this time, one that works for or with the publishing company. But wait, hasn’t the manuscript already been professionally edited in order for the agent to accept it?
Here we go, into the mystery of the editing world. Even in self-publishing, this step is probably one of the most difficult and confusing of the publishing process. After tiring of blow-offs by a few agents, I sent my story to the editing service provided by the self-publishing company. Their “package” was a separate “content edit” and a “copy edit.” (Can you hear the dollar signs?) The content edit is basically paying someone to read your book. This may sound stupid at first, but reality is that people you know don’t want to read unedited, or even unpublished work. Also, an honest opinion from someone you don’t know to just tell you if a story is present or it’s mumbo-jumbo is very important for the new author. Afterward I sent the story for the copy edit because of my non-professional grammar, which resulted in more improvement in the manuscript than the content edit. I learned to respect grammar.
A book cover later, my first book, “Act of Redemption” was published! Several people read it, and thankfully, friends and reviewers, liked the story more often than not. But what was the advice when offered? “You need an editor.” What? I had several editors! What happened here? One editor’s “OK” is another editors “lousiest piece of excrement I’ve ever read.” Like reviewing, editing is subjective (content editing) and to be fair to these professionals, it’s not easy. They do recommend that writers learn proper grammar, to keep from wasting their time on doing what they see as something time-consuming to them and should be basic tools for any writer.
In the big picture, I respect editors. As I commented on a blog recently, an editor cannot make you a great writer, or a good writer, but they can make you a better writer. What they cannot do is write the story for the author.
And as long as copy editors are out there, they’ll have at least one job from me. I’ve been sent many wonderful emails about grammar, but to be honest, if I wanted a degree in English I would’ve majored in it. So go forth, and write, new authors! You do your part and let the editors do their part, and hopefully you’ll end up with an awesome story!