By Christi McGuire
Trying to get published without the help of experts in the publishing industry is like trying to sell your house without a realtor. Can it be done? Sure. But will you face more obstacles along the way without the guidance of someone who knows the market? Yes. Are there tips and tricks and industry pointers experts know that you don’t? You betcha. Is the paperwork more daunting? Yep. Would you be taken more seriously and find better success if you hired a professional?
The same is true in the world of publishing. Professional editors know what the “biz” is all about—and they can help you navigate your way to success.
If you are seeking publication, you might want to consult an editor if …
- You don’t understand what the term “industry standard” is. You didn’t realize publishing was an industry, nor do you know what its standards are.
- You are still double-spacing between sentences.
- You believe having your mom proofread your manuscript is good enough.
- You think Chicago Manual of Style refers to the local fashion talk show.
- You write, “This book is going to be the next Harry Potter!” in your query letter or try to convince the literary agent that you will be the next J.K. Rowling.
- You do not research or request writer guidelines before submitting a query letter.
- You don’t know what writer guidelines, query letter, or proposal mean.
- You tell the literary agent that you were “born to write” or that you are positive that “God wants you to tell this story.”
- You pitch your ideas (not a specific manuscript) to a literary agent.
- You pitch many book manuscripts (not just one) to a literary agent.
- Your query is addressed to “Dear Agent” or “Dear Ma’am or Sir” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
- You write the word “very” 587 times in the first 50 pages of your manuscript.
- You blind copy your email query to several agents.
- You have written a first draft and have not rewritten, edited, rewritten, edited, deleted, started over, written, rewritten, edited … you get the drift, right?
- You query an agent with a genre he/she doesn’t represent.
- You don’t know how to format your manuscript according to industry-standard format (there’s that term again!).
- Your only publishing credit is having your poem in 5th grade published in Mrs. Smith’s monthly newsletter.
- You confuse affect/effect and its/it’s and their/there/they’re and who/whom.
- You are not sure about the difference between single spacing and double spacing.
- You love to use italics, all caps, and bold font—ALL THE TIME!
- You write in your query that Kate Hudson or Ryan Reynolds could star in your novel-based movie script.
- You capitalize a, an, and the in your book title (and they are not the first words).
- You lowercase the word Internet in your book manuscript.
- You’ve never heard of an em dash or en dash but think they might be Olympic sports.
- You don’t know what a word count is or how to do it—but you are hoping every word does indeed count.
- Your proposal is in Comic Sans font because it’s your favorite font—it is cute, after all!
If you are passionate enough to put your heart and soul into a manuscript to submit for publication, then take the time to consult a professional to help you along the way. The publishing industry is competitive! The Christian publishing industry is rapidly growing and becoming just as competitive as the secular industry. Agents and publishers want to know why your manuscript is different from others, how you can assure success as an author, and how you can guarantee sales.
Bottom line: the publishing industry is a business. A business’s goal is to make money. If your manuscript looks unprofessional, is filled with grammar mistakes, and has not been submitted according to industry standard, you will not stand out among the thousands of others wanting to get published, too.
Seek professional expertise—an editor is worth the investment in your publishing career!
Christi McGuire, freelance editor, writer, and consultant, has been in the Christian publishing industry for over fifteen years. Formerly an editor at LifeWay Christian Resources, Christi has published over one hundred magazine articles, dozens of children’s devotionals, and ten years of VBS curriculum. She is also the coordinator for the Christian Editor Connection, an organization that matches authors with professional editors. Currently, her primary focus is partnering with authors in the creative process to polish their manuscripts and book proposals and help them navigate the path to publishing. Visit her website at www.ChristiMcGuire.com.
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