What Does an Editor Look For?

What Does an Editor Look For?

  1. If you’re new to the world of publishing, you should become familiar with the necessary tools you’ll need to optimize your chances of receiving an editor’s approval. Traditional publishing dictates some standard rules you’ll need to know before approaching an editor with your idea.

    First, do some research. Find out what publising companies work with your genre. Are you writing a children’s book? A romantic novel? A self-help publication? Each will have its own list of publishers and editors. Find out the name of the appropriate acquisitions editor, but don’t send out your manuscript yet. Before you even complete writing your book, you should create a top-notch query letter that will "hook" the editor in the very first line. Then go on to write a book proposal which contains four required headings: Overview, Bio, Market Analysis, and Synopsis. You can find a lot of examples online. If you don’t follow an example, your proposal will scream "amateur."

    Every editor is different. Some will ask for a book proposal (especially if you are previously unpublished), sample chapters, the full manuscript, or any combination of these. Be prepared. If and when you are given the go-ahead, you will be given a deadline, and possibly, an advance. These days, amounts for the advance have decreased at many publishing houses, so don’t expect a $100,000 with your contract anymore. And the only excuse acceptable for missing a deadline is death. You are bound by contract and risk being sued, if you don’t deliver on time.

    Whatever you send to an editor should be flawless. Proofread your letter, proposal, and manuscript frontwards and backwards and never depend on spellcheck alone. Editors are quickly turned off by grammatical errors, misspellings, and typos. You should always hire your own professional editor to work with you before submitting anything. You’ll be amazed at what a good editor can do for your manuscript. Editors are experts in crafting the elements of your publication into a clear, concise, accurate, and error-free piece of work. Another pair of eyes should always proof the editor’s final version. After all of the cutting and pasting involved in editing, you’ll be surprised at how many left-behind punctuation marks need deleting, spacing issues need fixing, and how many periods were removed by mistake. And once you hit the send key, it’s too late.

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