Yesterday I wrote about paying for an editor to look over your manuscript before submitting it. The post has had about eighty or ninety views so far and the comments showed that people were divided over the issue.
What interested me was that a couple of commenters said hiring an editor was a good idea if you intended to self-publish. The implication being that if you intended to go traditional, you didn’t have to.
I mean, seriously, what’s the difference between self-publishing and submitting to an agent or publisher in terms of the quality of your submission? I know what you’re thinking. An agent isn’t the general public. They’ll see the potential in your work and help you polish it. If you submit to an agent you don’t need to hire an editor because the agent will help you polish your work, which will get it to an editor in a publishing house who will polish it some more. By the time it reaches John Q. Public it will be all shiny and perfect and you won’t have had to spend a penny on editorial services.
So now I ask, so what?
Agents do not want to have to spend their time polishing your work before submitting it to publishers. Editors do not want to have to spend their time polishing your work before sending it to print. They do all this because people don’t bring them perfect work. And let’s face it, as others pointed out yesterday, almost every single book that gets traditionally published still has errors. That’s with being polished by countless people over a couple of years.
I know nothing is ever perfect, but surely your work should be as perfect as you can make it before submitting it to an agent? If that includes hiring an editor, so be it. If nothing else, you will be making lives easier everywhere you go. It could be what clinches the deal for you.
If you would hire an editor before self-publishing, then I really think you should hire one before submitting to an agent. For all intents and purposes, both represent the same thing – your work is being seen by someone who has the power to help you earn money from it. Personally I don’t intend to ever hire an editor, whether I self-publish or go the traditional route. Which is why I will probably set my work aside for several weeks between edits and this will happen several times before I am satisfied that it’s as good as it can be. The criteria for achieving perfection should be the same regardless of which route you intend to take.
In the end, for me it’s about how much respect you want from the people who pick up your book. Do you want to be seen as someone who requires the services of an editorial team, or as someone who brings their absolute best to the table in the first place? I know which I would prefer.