How to Help an Editor

If you’re submitting your fiction manuscript to a traditional publishing house, here are some ways to make your editor’s job a lot easier. I’m not sure how the process works with nonfiction. I believe they only submit a manuscript proposal, a marketing plan, and perhaps a few chapters — depending on the rules of the individual publishing house. I don’t think the author has to have written the entire manuscript at the time of submission. Anyway… if you want to do submissions editors a favor, you can:

1. At the very least, run Microsoft Word’s spellcheck before you submit. At the VERY least. Yes, we’re all human and we make mistakes, but blatant errors are embarrassing.

2. Do not rush to submit your manuscript. Make sure it’s the best it can possibly be before you send it out. Check your logic and your facts. (Yes, even fiction can rely on facts.)

3. Have at least one other person read the manuscript before you send it on to a submissions editor. This person can help you find errors (both grammatical and logical) so you’ll have a better chance of your submission being accepted.

4. Read your work out loud. If you do, you’ll come across sentences that sound strange and need to be fixed. Don’t be lazy. Fix your sentences. A submissions editor is not going to fix them for you; instead, he will assume you are lazy and will reject your work.

5. Clean up the formatting before you send. Make sure fonts are uniform, line spacing is consistent, etc. Again, getting another person to read or look over your manuscript is a big help with this.

6. Read books or articles about the publishing process so you’ll know what to expect… and how not to make an editor angry.

In other words, the submissions editor should not be the first person besides you, the author, to read or look at the manuscript. As the author, your responsibility is to make your book the absolute best it can be. There is no room for laziness in the publishing industry, especially these days, when it seems like everyone and his brother is writing a book.

Even for self-publishing, where you bypass a submissions editor and do everything yourself, you should absolutely follow all the above guidelines. Putting an unedited or badly formatted book out into the market will only make you look like you don’t really care and haven’t done your research. You don’t want to embarrass yourself that way; trust me.

11 thoughts on “How to Help an Editor

  1. Oh man, checking your facts is so important. My book made it through like eight rounds of beta reading before my astrophysics major friend finally pointed out that I had the brightness level of the binary stars in the Sirius system mixed up. I was like … A) thank you!, and B) how do you know this???

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