Working with Editorial Partners
Need some info
I've not worked with an Editor yet, but I've done research. Here's what I know:
Yes, there are freelance editors for hire. Most authors or self-publishers turn to them to edit their books before they put it out in the market. Authors--even established ones--will hire freelance editors to polish their manuscripts before they submit them to a Publishing House.
Publishing Houses also have Editors--they're the ones who help you edit your manuscript to perfection before publication. Here's a link to an article that explains what Publishing House Editors do, among other Editors (you'll have to highlight the link, right click on the mouse, and click 'open link in new tab' to get to the site): http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/02/01/duties-of-an-editor-how-editors-help-writers/
For your question, the Acquisitions Editor is the one who sees your manuscript first when you submit to Publishing Houses. They are the ones who decide whether your manuscript passes in-house muster and will fight to get the Publishing House to consider it for publication (Or at least, that's what I've deduced. Someone more familiar with publication might have more accurate information for you).
P.S. Your question is not stupid--no question concerning the publishing community is stupid. I'm certain all authors had to ask this question once in their careers. So don't be afraid to ask anything you're not certain about.
No, they don't expect you to have a freelance editor go through your manuscript before you submit to them--they expect your manuscript to be polished, free of typos, etc. If it takes hiring a freelance editor for this, then that's what those who can afford it do. On the other hand, if you can polish your manuscript and edit out the typos and grammar mistakes by yourself, then you're golden.
I have worked with many editors over the years and they are a great bunch of people. I have worked with them when they have published my pieces for magazine articles, as well as working with them for my books.
The big name publishers have some editors on staff, but your small press will not. But regardless of the publisher, you should consider an editor for your work before you send it off for publication. There are many avenues to look at when it comes to editing. Tools like Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid are good for your initial drafts. They will pick up a lot of the mistakes that a costly line editor is used to working with. Mistakes like starting out your sentences too similar. Using a word repetitively, etc. But you most definitely need a second set of eyes on your work to catch common mistakes-- mistakes like there, their, and they're. This is when you can hire an editor for grammar and spelling. They are less expensive.
Having said that, let's talk a little about these editors. There are many that freelance. Some are expensive-- others are not. Your best bet is to research people via networking. Facebook, Google +, and other social platforms have TONS of editors on them to choose from. Here's a few tips on how to find a good one:
First, you need to feel comfortable with them. Get to know them a little before you hire them. Say hi on a social network. If they are approachable that's good because that's a sign that they will communicate well with you about your manuscript.
You should never settle for an editor that does not talk to you at all while they are editing your work. That is the sign of an inexperienced editor. A good editor will call you, email you, or stalk you on facebook and ask you what you meant in a certain scene they are editing for you. They will have that need to talk to you because they want your polished work to sparkle. They SHOULD NOT be rewriting your work for you-- again-- that's someone who is inexperienced.
Other tips, if an editor does not understand certain lingo in your genre, they might not be a good fit for that book. They may be a great editor-- even one that worked well with you in the past, but sometimes the book doesn't click for them and that's okay. I had an editor question a term widely used in vampire novels. I let that slide because I worked with her before with my nonfiction books, but I shouldn't have because she completely misunderstood the entire piece.
The best thing to do with editors that you don't know is to see if they are willing to do a sample edit for you. Most experienced editors will do a paragraph to a page free of charge and this will give you an idea of whether or not they will fit you and your book.
Sensible post there from Kimberley on the whys and wherefores of editors. If I might add some perspective from the "other side of the desk", as it were.
Let's say for simplicity's sake that there are two routes to publication; self-publishing, and the traditional route. If you go down the traditional route, you will probably need to get the attention of an agent first. Agents don't like to read shoddy manuscripts, and it will take some exceptional prose, or a brilliant pitch, to get them past numerous typos and grammar issues. As Kimberley points out, if your writing is not the best, technically speaking, there are a number of software solutions that will go some of the way to ironing those problems out of your manuscript. Even basic Microsoft Word will give you spelling help, punctuation aids and grammar tips, and more in-depth tools like Grammarly will go a little further. There's a cost to these, but it's small compared to a professional edit, and I believe that once you buy the licence you can apply the software to multiple books, whereas of course an editor is going to charge per manuscript. So it's really within most authors' means to get a properly turned out manuscript with most of the technical issues ironed out in front of an agent. (There are a number of technical issues that those software solutions won't help you with - using the wrong words, or even just missing words completely). What all those software solutions won't do for you is tell you if your book is actually any good. They won't tell you if the plot has gaping holes, or if the main character's voice is inconsistent, or if you're head-hopping from one POV to another within a chapter for no good reason. There are still a number of options available to you before you stump up for an editor:
Get a friend to read it, but not any old friend, a friend who works in the publishing industry and who is prepared to be objective. Don't have one?
Then join a site like BookCountry and ask other writers to review it for you. Even then, don't trust reviewers who just say, "This was brilliant. I loved it". What you want are reviewers who say, "This was brilliant. I loved it, but..."
If you've workshopped it to the hilt, exhausted your friends and are still not getting anywhere with agents, then perhaps now is the time to consider having an editor look at it. And you should be quite clear what you need at this stage. It's a developmental edit, not a proof-read (sometimes called a line-edit). You want to know if there's something wrong with the book's structure, that 's not getting it to appeal to an agent.
I second all of Kimberley's points about editors. You should feel comfortable with them as an editor. You should perhaps do some digging on social media, or writers' websites like this one, and find out what they're like to work with. They should be approachable. They should show an affinity for your genre. And they should be prepared to do a sample edit, perhaps, of a few pages to see if you like them, and also, almost as importantly, if they like you. A good editor will turn down a manuscript/writer that they don't think they can work with, because it will end in tears for the author and possible loss of professional reputation and/or money (in terms of hours wasted) for the editor.
If you go down the self-publishing route, then almost all of these stages of the review process become far more important (not less), because there is no objective reader standing between you and the "publish" button. Judging from the standard of most of the self-published books out there, that is NOT A GOOD THING. Hey. People self-publish for different reasons. Some do it for vanity, to see their name up on the Amazon web-site. Some do it to achieve a lifelong ambition. Some people do it as catharsis, to get a story out in the open that they really need to tell. For all these people, perhaps an edit isn't that important. For anyone else who is relatively serious about their book being read by anyone other than their granny, a professional edit should be considered mandatory, a cost of the self-publishing process.
But then I would say that, I'm an editor!
Last point. Edits need not be as expensive as one would think. While you're not likely to get a good service from someone charging very little, and neither are you guaranteed much better success for your book from someone charging a lot, you should contact your friendly local, widely recommended editor, whoever that might be, and have a conversation, at least. Your book will thank you for it.
--edited by D'Estaing on 12/2/2015, 6:54 PM--