“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” — Oscar Wilde.
Writing a book can be a tedious, emotional, and long process made of hours upon hours of extraneous typing, brain storming, and—if you're anything like me—reshaping scenes, coming up with better punch lines, and trying to improve the flow of the manuscript. Given how hard it is to write a full-length manuscript, it is not surprising that, once you are finally done, you just want to submit it to literary agents so that your hard work can be validated, and you can fulfill your childhood dream of becoming a published author. And that's when many incredibly talented and skilled authors make their biggest mistake. There is one person who needs to come before the literary agent: the Editor. But why is it so important to hire an Editor? Let me give you three good reasons.
1. Importance of the Editor. The Editor is a pivotal figure in the publishing industry. Skipping the crucial step of having your manuscript edited by a professional, is often cause of failing to impress a literary agent. Without a literary agent, it is incredibly difficult to get the attention of a publisher, thus leaving you with the only option of going the self-publishing route—which can be expensive, not to mention you will have to become savvy in every field of the publishing industry because you will be your own publishing team. Hiring an Editor for your book will guarantee that your manuscript meets industry standards, thus giving you the confidence to reach out to agents, who will certainly be impressed by how polished your manuscript looks. If you grab the agent's attention from the get-go, with a professionally looking draft, you'll have better chances of being represented by them.
2. Chicago Manual of Style. In order for your manuscript to meet industry standards, it must follow the rules and guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style. Currently, we are at the 17th edition, and many rules have been updated since its previous version. The Manual is not a book that can be simply picked up and read; it is an incredibly detailed style guide that professional Editors take a long time to learn how to use—I successfully learned the ins and outs of the CMoS while pursuing a Certificate in Editing from Graham School at the University of Chicago, thus learning all about the Manual from the very institution that created it, where most of my Instructors were the same people who wrote it.
3. Your Manuscript Deserves an Editor. Whether you have written a memoir, a sci-fi story, or a historical novel, one thing is for sure: You have dedicated yourself to the manuscript. You have made the effort, brought passion, sacrifice, and possibly even tears to writing thousands of words. Now that you are done, don't do your manuscript the disservice of not being professionally edited. Your story deserves better. You deserve better. Once you have a complete manuscript, it is difficult to tame the urge to go full steam ahead and reach out to agents, but hiring an Editor is a necessary pause you will not regret making.
In conclusion, let me tell you a secret I learned while studying at Graham School: Even writers of the Chicago Manual of Style hire Editors to go over their own manuscripts! So do yourself and your story justice by hiring a professional Editor to polish your draft.