Getting Published or E-published/Editing

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Question
I'm a novelist who's completed and edited my first novel, but I'm not sure whether it's ready for submission yet. I'm wondering: how much editing can I expect editors to do? Do they go over each manuscript line by line? How does this process work?

For example, say I've written a sentence poorly (I'm making this up as I go along--I don't actually write like this): "John grandly waved with his hands at the sky, and he would have waved longer except for his grandmother not waving back at him from the top of the extremely tall apartment building standing like a mountain in the middle of New York scarily like a stone giant with no eyes."

So, will editors help rearrange sentences such as these? If they like the story and feel it's marketable, how much work will they devote toward editing a story and making it readable?

I'm curious because I tend to agonize over my manuscripts, picking over each little word and phrase, wondering whether little errors make any difference in the long run. Should I focus more on the story, or am I right to agonize over each little word and phrase?

Thanks,
Shawn

Answer
Shawn -- With rare exceptions, publishing house editors do not develop writing anymore, as they did some decades ago. An acquisitions editor will generally issue a yes/no decision on the manuscript as-is, or in some cases, recommend that the writer engage the services of a professional editor to develop the work before resubmission. But the old days of publishing houses discovering "diamonds in the rough" and cultivating both the work and the writer are long over. Publishers accept only the strongest, most finished work that comes to them through literary agents; they like to feel they're making a sure bet, not investing in someone who's still learning the ropes of the craft.

Keep in mind that virtually all fiction is submitted through agents, and with rare exceptions they don't offer editing either. They will also render yes/no decisions or, in rare cases, connect promising authors with editors for further development.

A first novel generally needs a professional assessment by someone with experience in the industry. I happen to do that work; see www.fearlessbooks.com/Manuscripts.htm. Other resources include the Editorial Freelancers Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, both of which offer services connecting writers and editors.

with best wishes,
D. Patrick Miller
Fearless Literary Services
www.fearlessbooks.com/Literary.html  

Getting Published or E-published

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D. Patrick Miller

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I am an independent self-publisher who sold three projects to major New York houses before starting my own company. I provide editorial services to a major literary agency in Manhattan and work regularly with authors at all levels of expertise. I can answer questions like these: What does "independent publishing" mean? Should I publish myself or use a service like XLibris? What is "print on demand" publishing? How do I publish myself on the Web? What are the best resources for learning about publishing? How do I find a literary agent? What are my chances of getting published by a major New York firm?

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