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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Comments 7 comments

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Good info there, thanks! I have a brilliant editor so I am very lucky. Got him first before worrying about the publishing.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

good tips.


J.S. Brooks profile image

J.S. Brooks 7 years ago Author

Thanks cindyvine and goldentoad. A good editor is a valuable asset in reducing mistakes prior to publishing. It always hurts to open your newly published book and find some error leaping off the page at you in the first look!


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

These are great tips! I have read several books lately that have so many typos like the 'form' 'from' and just plain misspelled words, it's rediculous. I even wrote to one publisher... get a new editor!! I shall bookmark this for furture refrenceing.


J.S. Brooks profile image

J.S. Brooks 7 years ago Author

Hi Candie V. Thanks for the kind remarks. There is a certain idea out there among some publishers that they can cut costs but eliminating editors and just doing a spell check review instead. Needless to say, that's no where near good enough. I'm sure all those errors made you doubt the accuracy of what the author was trying to say as well.


yellowstonegirl profile image

yellowstonegirl 6 years ago from Bozeman MT

Editing is so important in the publishing process. I'll admit I've had bad luck with editing. After writing a novel your head knows what you think should be on the page, but doesn't necessarily see the typos that are there. That's why it's so important to re-read and re-edit a million times, not to mention either hire an editor or have a trusted friend fluent in line by line editing look at it. If you do the latter don't just assume they got it right. A literary agent or publisher want to see an edited, perfect product when you submit to them. Edit first, publish later. Best of luck.


J.S. Brooks 6 years ago

Good advice yellowstonegirl. There is one cautionary note if you should hire an editor. If/when your edited manuscript is accepted by a publishing house and edited by one of their inhouse editors, resist the temptation to return the edited galley pages to the editor you hired. It is almost guaranteed that the two editors will be using different style guides, which will give different rules for minutia such as where to place commas under certain circumstances. It really aggravates a trained editor with years experience to have an outside editor try to undo necessary edits that give all of a publishing house's books a uniform look. Sorry to hear about your bad editing experience!

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