I was recently asked advice about getting a book published. The writer had been working on a book for over a year and was worried about the time taken, asking was it their responsibility to hire an editor to correct the manuscript.
I have to say, first off, a year is NOT too long to be working on a book, it’s about par for the course, some take several years, especially a début, when you're striving for perfection.
Hone, hone, and away.
If you’ve invested all that time and effort in the writing, why not take a little more time to re-read and polish it until it shines. Adopt a professional eye and hone away ALL unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, before thinking about sending to a publishing house. Nothing screams amateur more than purple prose. Cut, cut and cut again. I know you're losing words, but you're gaining quality. It's far better to have a thousand words less but accepted, than a thousand words more rejected.
If your manuscript is accepted, the PUBLISHING house will assign an editor to make sure your book meets their high standard, it's their responsibility.
However, that said, you might purchase the services of an external editor if you want a professional critique (someone like Hilary Johnson - find her on the web) before you submit your work. This service will cost approx one hundred pounds for the first three chapters - only use them if you really don’t understand what's wrong with your work.
A lower level of critique but quite genuine, can be found for free in most on-line writer’s circles such as My Writers Circle - but don't expect to submit a whole novel, just a taster.
Can it be better?
When you’re certain you can’t make your manuscript any better, trundle down to your local library, borrow ‘The Writer’s Handbook” and make a note of publishing houses who publish your genre. There seems to be a gathering trend in the UK and almost certainly in the USA to go through a publishing agent, but the same process should be adopted.
Send the selected publishing house or agent a short note asking if they'd be kind enough to read your manuscript. Enclose a very brief synopsis of your book (look to the blurb on a book jacket for guidance), explain the number words it contains, and what genre you've written. A longer synopsis should only be sent if they ask to see the first three chapters.
Then sit back and pray.
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