Editor or Publisher, Which Comes First for the New Author?
Depends on the Book and the Author...
How an author approaches this question depends on at least two different considerations: the level of experience of the author and the publisher the author intends to approach. For an author with years of writing experience in magazine, newspaper, or online news source writing, an editor is not an absolute necessity. However, even the experienced author is wise to have an extra set of eyes read over his or her manuscript. The mind has this tricky little habit of telling you the words on the page are the words you expect to be there rather than the words actually written. For this reason, you often find the word "form" where "from" is intended and similar transpositions that create actual words a spell check program will not pick up. At the very minimum this experienced writer will need to run the spell check and grammar check programs the writing program he or she uses comes with. An inexperienced writer who is attempting her or his first writing project would be wise to engage the services of an editor prior to the submission of a manuscript to a publisher. In doing so, however, this new author must rein in his or her ego and not resist the changes the editor offers up, unless there is a misreading that leads to an edit that changes the intention of the author for a sentence or paragraph. However, if this occurs, the author should strongly consider rewriting the section that lead to this misinterpretation as others are likely to make the same mistake.
If an author is attempting to get a book published through a major publisher, then an editor is less of a necessity as the publishing house will provide an editor when the book is accepted. Once again, though, if you are an inexperienced writer attempting to present a manuscript to a major publisher, it would be wise to use an editor first. You are also likely to need an agent to get your manuscript noticed by such a publisher.
If an author instead chooses to publish through one of the self-publishing organizations such as Lulu, then an editor would again be a first choice for an author. These self publishing outfits do not edit a manuscript. They place the manuscript as they receive it and publish it as is. Any errors sent in by the author will make it into print ... and be seen by the author the very first time she or he opens the book!
Here's a word to the wise: if you hire an outside editor prior to sending your book to a major publisher with in-house editors, do not send the edited manuscript worked on by the professional in-house editor to the outside editor you hired. Inevitably, to prove his or her worth, that outside editor will feel obliged to make more changes to the manuscript, changes that are actually unnecessary and of little worth. Worse, the outside editor will make changes based on the style manual he or she uses, while the in-house editor will probably have used a different style manual. Various style manuals treat small technicalities such as comma use and bibliographic format in differently and returning to the outside editor will create changes the in-house editor will either have to ignore or correct. Either way, you will end up wasting the in-house editor's time and raising his or her blood pressure. This is not a good way to cement a strong professional relationship that may lead to additional book projects.
Consider your personal needs as a writer and then move ahead according to your needs. Best of luck to you in your attempts to get published!
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