You’ve Just Finished Your First Manuscript And Now You’re Ready To Publish—NOT!

Written exclusively for A Book Obsession

I almost made this grave mistake with my debut novel Crimson Groves. After editing it myself, reading it over and over and over again, I thought my YA/urban fantasy novel was perfect and ready to be shared with the world. But it wasn’t even close! My husband was the first to “test read” my novel, and he caught several blaring grammar errors—even after all that editing I’d done. I was completely bummed and immediately dove back into reading over my manuscript again, for about the thirteenth time. Halfway through this round of grueling edits, of which I still wasn’t catching all the errors because quite honestly, you know the story in your mind and when you’re reading it over, your brain allows you to see the words that are meant to be there, not the typos that really are, my husband suggested that I needed to find a professional editor. At the time, I’d been planning on presenting my novel to a whole slew of agencies that accepted my genre and assumed that once I got signed, all the editing would be handled for me. This assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nowadays, most agencies aren’t even interested in new and upcoming authors—they seem to be targeting successful indie (self-pub) authors instead, purchasing the rights of the existing book and then selling it to a big publishing company that will reproduce your novel through their famed publishing warehouse. So you see, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll end up self-pubbing, and trust me when I say there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve read countless indie books that blew me away—and guess what?—all of them were professionally edited with no grammar errors to act as speed bumps throughout the story.

Now, back to getting your manuscript edited. Even if you still want to pursue the traditional route and seek out an agent, you MUST have a clean and polished novel to present to them. Period. This is your chance to stand out above all your competitors, and trust me when I say there are thousands of new authors coming out almost every week—yes, it’s that competitive. Hiring an editor is an expense that, in my opinion, is worth every penny. After all, you want your story to be perfect, right?

So where do you find a good editor? Well, I’m very partial to mine—Stephen Delaney with Close Reader Editing Services ( He’s done an amazing job with both my debut novel Crimson Groves and my new mature/YA/urban fantasy/paranormal thrillerUnGuarded. Not only does he provide meticulous attention to detail, story, plot, characters, etc., but he also makes suggestions on how certain sentences and paragraphs could be better, adding that extra oomph to keep the reader turning those pages. There are also some helpful websites where you can find the perfect editor for your genre—yes, just like you need to target agencies that accept your genre, the same rule applies to finding your editor. and are just a couple sites out of many that list editors and what services each one provides.

Compare pricing! Before connecting with Stephen, I narrowed down my editor search to my top-three picks. I reached out to each one inquiring not only about their pricing, but also what the turnaround time frame would be. Both price and timing worked best with Stephen and that’s how my choice was originally made—but at the time it was still a leap of faith since I had NO IDEA what to really expect. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised, and I couldn’t wait to work with him again onUnguarded! Keep in mind, you not only need an editor for EVERY book you write, but if you go after an agent the traditional way, it’s in your best interest to get your query letter edited too, since that’s the absolute first thing the agent will see before requesting sample chapters.

Be mindful of your budget! If you receive the countless rejection letters that MOST authors are no stranger to, then be prepared to eat the cost of the editing. In other words, you may not get that money back. And if you go the indie route, you will have other fees to consider too (i.e., book cover, paperback formatting, etc.), but most self-pub companies offer package deals that will include all of that—and they even have editing services too.

In summary, there really is no choice as to whether you need a professional editor or not—the choice is simply what editor is going to be your lifelong business partner in your writing career. Best of luck finding your version of my Stephen.

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