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Dear Literary Agent,

I have finished my very first novel.  It is a science fiction story that I think is very unique and could attract a lot of attention from agents and editors. I want to make sure it is in the best shape possible, though, before I start pitching.  Do I need to hire an editor?

Sincerely,

Maybe in Need of an Editor

 

Dear Maybe in Need of an Editor,

Congratulations on finishing your first novel!  How exciting!  That is a great feeling and you should take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back.

First of all, I hope if you say you are “finished” that you mean you have gone through several rounds of revisions on the book yourself.  Editing is a large part of the craft, and you need to make sure that you are 100% comfortable with what you have written before you give it to someone else to read (or pay them to do so).  Have you had anyone read your book so far?  I don’t just mean family members of friends – members of your writing group, for example, or a trusted, impartial contact.  What has the feedback been like from them?

If the feedback has been positive, I think you are probably in a good position to start pitching your book as-is.  If people have had issues with any part of your book, you may want to consider hiring an editor.
There are different kinds of editors, however, and it is important that you understand the difference.  A copy editor proofreads your book – they catch an typos, misspellings, or poor grammar usage.  They may give occasional advice on a turn of phrase or two, but their work generally focuses on the physical words on the page.  A developmental editor focuses on the content – they are the people who can help you flesh out a character, strengthen a plot, or help clarify a thesis.

If you tell us that a professional editor has reviewed your manuscript, agents and publishers will not necessarily view your book any more highly than they would another author’s.  We are already assuming we have your best submission possible – why would you send it to us anyway?

Our advice is that you take as many free editing opportunities as possible.  If you have exhausted those options, and still feel that there is something lacking in your manuscript, you can consider hiring an editor – once you have pinpointed where the issues are.

The very best of luck to you with your book!

Sincerely,

 

Megan Close Zavala and the Team at Keller Media

 

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