Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Your Questions - Why Might You Need an Editor?

Today's question from a fellow New Englander:
(A) Do I need an editor? (B/C) Why/when do you need an editor? (D) Won't an agent edit my work?
Short answers: 
  • (A) Maybe.
  • (B) To improve your chances of getting past the slush pile.
  • (C) Before you submit to agents or if you're getting nothing but rejections.
  • (D) Yes, but only if you've already set yourself apart from the pack and an agent has decided she wants you as a client.
A longer answer:
Yes, once you have an agent he or she will likely do his or her own edit and ask for certain revisions. However, many agents will not sign a book that isn't "professionally" written - meaning that it is free of grammatical errors, that the prose is crisp and clean, and that the plot and character development is smooth and engages the reader right from the start.
It honestly comes down to a numbers game in many cases. When your query first arrives at an agency, it's most likely one of hundreds that the agent's assistant (a job I held many years ago!) needs to process in a single week (and, more than likely, she's dealing with a backlog of several weeks). If you get beyond that stage, your partial manuscript will be among dozens that the assistant will read in a week. Only a few manuscripts make it to the agent's desk - and of those few an agent can only take on maybe one.
(NOTE: not all agencies work this way - each one is unique - this is simply my experience in the industry. For more information, click on the agent blog links to the right.)
To land a great agent you MUST stand out from the pack and not give the agent, or the assistant, any reason to automatically toss your pages into the rejection pile.
Some writers need editorial help to get there; some don't. It never hurts to reach out to an editor if you have questions - I'm always more than happy to chat, and, like most freelance editors, I offer a free sample evaluation of your first ten pages to help you understand your options.
Have questions for the editor? Send them to editor at murdockediting dot com. Please include "Blog Question" in the subject line. Happy writing!

No comments:

Post a Comment