Tag Archives: revision

Professional Editor: Luxury or Necessity?

Last night I read a thread about securing a professional editor during the writing process.  It read something like this:

A professional editor is a crucial step in the writing process because writers cannot possibly self-edit.

In the context of this statement, Commenter A said that writers needed the services of an editor prior to sending the manuscript off to agents and editors. 

In circumstance such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, language barriers or learning disabilities, I agree that professional services may be necessary pre-submission.

However, this comment was hallelujah-ed as gospel by other writers.  Commenter A continued on, and I paraphrase ever so slightly to keep the context in tact: A writer’s job is to write a great story.  An editor’s job is to take care of the problems such as character development and plot holes.

This sentiment is one I’ve read/heard often enough to address on my blog.  To keep the conversation on a level playing field, I’ll clarify the two types of editors that might be discussed.

  1. The Pre-submission Editor who is secured before submission to polish a manuscript for submission. 
  2. The In-House Editor who is hired by the publishing house to polish your manuscript after it has been accepted for publication. 

These are two completely different animals.  The one referred to in the conversation thread was of the Type 1 Variety.  The pre-submission editor. 

And so I ask you: is a pre-submission editor a necessity or a luxury?  Why?

Are writers capable of editing their own manuscripts to the point of submission, or are they exempt from things like grammar and plot holes?  Is telling a story our only obligation, or should we be expected to learn the craft so our written work is stronger and more well-rounded?

Further, who the heck will revise with our agents or in-house editors should an offer ever grace our inboxes?  Us or the pre-submission editor?

If an agent or editor stumbles across this post, please comment and identify yourself as a professional.  Your input will be greatly appreciated.

Beach Towels and Manuscript Revision

We swim a lot at our house.  Nonstop actually, which means our beach towels take a beating.  While we have 23 towels, we try really hard to hang used ones up to dry so they can be used again.  And again.  And again.

If we didn’t, we could feasibly use all 23 towels every day between our kids and their friends.  That’s at least four loads of laundry.

And there’s nothing I hate more in this world than washing laundry.  But even if I weren’t sounding so lazy, I could justify not washing every towel after every use because it will wear them out quicker.  I could plead “green”–that I’m simply trying to stretch the life of my towels as long as possible.  Also, DH’s dollars.

After DD’s big, birthday weekend, all 23 towels had been wrapped around various bodies, numerous times.  Between uses, we hung them up.  Much like I set aside my manuscripts.

Over the past year of hanging out on AQ and other writing forums, I’ve noticed the tendency to submit a manuscript immediately after completion.  We finish them, read through them–checking for typos and other grammarly issues–once, maybe twice.  Then we send them off.

I’ve learned a lot about the process in general and writing in particular in the past year.  My best advice to writers is this:

Let your Manuscript Dry

Hang it up between uses.  Don’t run it through the washer after one use and declare it ready to go. 

Your manuscript will wear out.  Your list of agents will fade.  Your patience will become thread-bare, and you will end up on the Wanna-Be Writers’ Memorial Wall of UnFame.

Writing is not a race.  It’s a process.

Manuscripts must read and reread.  They must be checked for plot and character development, not just typos.  And in between edits, they need time to dry.

Only after our manuscripts are the best they can be, should we wash them and dry them in the dryer so they are fresh and clean and ready to share with a new set of guests.

This is when we should submit.  To do so earlier, is unfair to us and the stories we want to tell.

How long does it take before your manuscript goes from complete to submission?  How many edits do you put it through before you declare it polished and ready to go?