In the old days of traditional publishing, if you were lucky enough to have your manuscript accepted by a publisher, you didn’t have to worry about editing. That part of the process was taken care of by half a dozen staff editors who would pay meticulous attention to detail through all levels of editing before your manuscript went to press. There were rarely mistakes in books in those days. Yes, those were wonderful times for the chosen few authors who managed to find a publisher.
Today, things have changed dramatically in the publishing world. Even if you’re fortunate enough to find an agent and/or secure a book deal with a major (or minor) publishing house, you’ll often still be expected to have had your manuscript edited—at your expense. Agents are far more likely to take a manuscript seriously if it has already been professionally edited. Big publishers and small alike do not have time, money, or staff to give your manuscript the editorial attention to detail it might have received a few decades ago.
And if you’ve decided to self-publish, editing is essential. Particularly if you’re self-publishing, you can’t afford not to have your manuscript edited. With so many self-published books on the market, quality is vitally important if you want to be competitive. The top complaint in Amazon reviews of self-published books is the lack of professional editing. Good editing is one of your best marketing tools.
So whether you’re self-publishing or seeking the traditional path, having your manuscript edited professionally is a necessity if you want to entice agents, publishers, and readers with a polished product they will be eager to read and acquire. (Click here to read more about self-publishing versus traditional publishing.)
Following are the basic steps in the editorial process, including all the steps involved in the publication cycle if you’re self-publishing. Some or all of these steps may or may not apply to you, depending on the nature of your work and your budget. If you’re seeking an agent, you’ll work through just the first steps with an editor before submitting your manuscript.