Is An Editor Truly Necessary?

To anyone in the publishing world—and I mean the professionally run publishing world, be it an author who is dedicated to self-publishing top-quality books and building an avid fan base, or an author who hopes to write for a publishing house and has dreams of selling books for years to come—the answer to that simple opening question is “Absolutely.”

“But why?” some new authors might ask. “Readers will likely buy anything, if it’s cheap enough, right? Publishing houses won’t care too much about the quality of my new manuscript, will they?”

Did you know that most reputable agents or publishers—both print and electronic publishers—read no more than a few pages of a submission before deciding whether the work has merit? Did you also know that, in many cases, if a new submission contains a single spelling or punctuation error within these few pages, not to mention sloppy sentence structure, a reliance on adverbs and adjectives, etc., that the entire manuscript will immediately hit the rejection pile? (And if any publisher does allow horribly written manuscripts to get through the main gate and into the actual “contract” pile, then frankly, they are not a publisher you should want to have publishing your “baby.” Slipshod is as slipshod does.) Although many readers are sometimes less finicky, self-published authors will also face difficulties gaining that loyal fan base if their work is consistently riddled with errors.

Although this sounds like a harsh reality, publishing is a brutal business. Yet, if you seriously ponder this reality, it is quite understandable. With dozens of submissions from “hopeful” authors pouring into each mailbox every week, and with only a handful of actual publishing “slots” available each year in any professional company’s release schedule, it’s the only way agents and publishers can discover the “best of the best.” Gone are the days when untested authors might be given a “shot” at a large publishing house, despite problems in the manuscript’s prose or plotline. No longer will a busy publishing house (large or small) assign an equally busy editor to perfect a manuscript for release if the chore appears overwhelming. These days, a manuscript must be next to perfect before even making it past the proverbial publishing house gatekeepers (the nitpicky readers) and, only then, will the manuscript appear on the desk of a “higher-up,” who is equally as nitpicky. Additionally, with so many self-published books being released every single week, readers have an endless stream of new stories at their disposal, so many won’t waste time on an author who has a bad track record when it comes to the quality of their books.

But how does one beat the odds, make it past the gatekeepers who search for any reason to toss a manuscript into the rejection heap? Or for self-published authors, how does one lessen the chances of readers closing the book file after perusing only a few chapters before getting disgusted, giving up, and returning the book to Amazon for a refund?

The answer, obviously, is edit. One phrase that consistently appears in creative writing courses and “how-to-write-fiction” manuals is this: The best books are not written, they are rewritten! Truer words were never spoken.

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible for any author to thoroughly edit or objectively evaluate their own writing. Mistakes in grammar, syntax, tense, or punctuation always creep into an author’s work, whether they realize it or not. Their eyes have a tendency to skip over these “relatively minor” errors, simply since the writer knows what should appear on the page, knows what they meant to type. And what about “major” errors? The same answer. Authors may occasionally ignore nagging plotting problems, dismiss poor character development, disregard the lack of tension in non-dramatic opening scenes, etc., since many writers, at one time or another, become enamored with their own prose. It’s human nature, after all—one has a final manuscript before them (a spectacular achievement in its own right) and it can often become impossible not to fall in love with every single word on those pages, even if those words are wrong or misspelled or nonsensical.

ThunderProse, therefore, can become your objective eye, that eagle eye to help you perfect your writing. Better still, my prices (see the ThunderPrices page) are more affordable than many professional editing/evaluation services or “Book Doctors.” See the ThunderBio page for my qualifications.

So why waste money on postage to a publishing company, only to face rejection when the gatekeeper discovers all those misplaced commas or misspellings? Why upload your self-published manuscript to a site such as Amazon if the readers complain about the awkward sentence structure or poor dialogue and demand a refund? Why not improve your chances of staying out of the constantly growing slush pile, or a reader’s “avoid this author at all costs” list? Why not receive a better grade in your creative writing course? Although I obviously cannot guarantee agent representation or a publishing contract to my clients, I can certainly guarantee those nitpicky gatekeepers and finicky readers will have a much more difficult time discarding your manuscript!

For detailed information on what editing services I offer, please visit the ThunderProse page on this website. And if you feel any of my various editing services are right for you, please visit my ThunderPrices page for basic cost information, then email me with details regarding the type of “product” you require, and I will provide price quotes and we can work out a deadline.

Happy writing!

—Trace Edward Zaber, owner of ByThunder LLC

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