Get an editor and get what you want

Get an editor and get what you want

In the basic scenario of book publishing, a writer finishes a book and then finds an agent who helps sell the book to a publisher. When someone asks, "How do I find an editor?" they often look for the details of this scenario. But let's back up a bit. The answer to this question has to do with what you, as a writer, want from the publishing process, as well as what the publisher wants. It is better to be as clear as possible on both counts. Here are some things to consider.

What you want

What exactly do you want for your book? Your answer may save you a lot of time and heartache. Here is an example. Recently, a writer emailed me saying that he wanted to find a publisher for his book on treating sickle cell anemia. He said that he felt that it was a really important book and that people would be interested in the information. That's great, but if your main goal is to get your book into the hands of those facing the disease, you don't have to go to a big traditional publisher to do it. He can publish and take the book directly to sickle cell doctors' offices, support groups, and organizations.

Do you want a book that tells a family story that will be a legacy for your children? Do you want a book that establishes your experience and helps you get started on the public speaking circuit? You can achieve these things through desktop publishing. A prominent ghostwriter recently published a book on his trade and landed a television interview in which he talked about how politicians write his books. The author was introduced as a "ghostwriting guru" and his book was prominently displayed at the end of the story. There was nothing that would have told him that the book was self-published. It didn't matter that it was. He still got the tip, he was still seen as an expert.

Do you want to go for the whole enchilada: traditional publisher, book tour, the state of having validation from a publisher? That is fine too. Which brings us to ...

What editors want

Editors review tons of manuscripts daily. How do you make your shipping package stand out from the crowd? Giving what they seek.

They want good writing. That's a fact, but how do you deliver it? First of all, stay in a mode of constantly learning about his trade. Take classes, workshops, join a group of writers. Then hire someone to help you. There are many editors who help writers prepare a manuscript for submission. Some agencies even provide editing as part of their services.

The next part is more difficult. It has to do with that magical term "platform". Everyone these days talks about how publishers buy based on their platform. In fact, your presentation package, fiction or non-fiction, will focus on showcasing your platform. Here's what they're looking for and how to prove it.

Who you know and who knows you: Include testimonials and announcements from well-known and prominent people in your package. If you have some big names behind you, that's more power to your marketing machine.

Do you have followers? If you publish a newsletter or other regular medium, you will want to show how many subscribers you have. If you have a great website, please indicate the number of visits you get each month. If you sell a product, provide sales figures to show that you know how to produce what your customers want.

Are you in front of people all the time? Say what means you already have under your belt. When and where were your last speaking engagements? Describe any recent radio, television, newspaper, or magazine interviews you have done.

If you are missing any of these areas, it is never too late to change your situation. Polishing your prose and personality are the best steps you can take to attract an editor. They will also help ensure your success if you decide to do it on your own. Remember, any improvement to your writing or marketing fronts will never go to waste!