Querying Agents: Should you Hire an Editor First?

So you’ve completed the first draft of your novel, edited it the to best of your abilities and now you’re ready to query. Maybe you’re further along than that – perhaps the rejections have started rolling in and you’re wondering if you should hire a professional. And here is the important question: Would hiring an editor help you get representation from an agent or perhaps even lead to becoming published?

After my recent one-to-one with an editor I’ve battled with this question. Some of the advice I received resonated with my gut instinct. Great. Whilst other parts I’ve debated with my betas, toyed with changes and generally procrastinated over. Who’s opinion should I trust more, someone in the industry for 20yrs or just little, blundering novice, me.

On Friday I attended a writing conference with a fellow blogger from Uninspired Writers and we had two agents from Greene & Heaton give us their opinion on the matter. Working with any professional can be a costly matter, which may well be outside of many writers grasp.

But a far more interesting point was; agents are used to working with writers who have a rough draft, it’s their job to know how to edit a manuscript to make it shine. Provided your MS is polished to it’s best and has no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. By implementing an editor’s changes you’re effectively adding a third persons subjectivity to the mix. You may end up editing out parts that the agent would have loved and add elements they hate.

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These points aligns with previous advice I’ve heard, which is, by working with an editor before submitting your manuscript, it is no longer authentically yours. Because it has been enhanced by someone else. The agents may well assume your work is up to scratch only to discover that it is not.

I think these pose an interesting conundrum. Who amongst us wouldn’t want to jump the queue and get ahead? But is that really benefiting us in the long haul. On the other hand, having areas in our manuscript highlighted as weak by an editor, critique partner or beta, especially if we had a niggling feeling it was, can only benefit us.

Remember advice is subjective, an agents preferences is subjective, heck this blog post is subjective.

Listen to that inner voice and have faith in your journey. If you want to work with an editor, do it and learn from it. If you’re struggling with someone’s feedback, because you believe those elements are integral to your story, listen to your gut instinct and leave them in your story.

You are the master creator of your world – in fiction and reality.

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Have you heard similar advice from professionals? Or have you worked with an editor and known in your heart their changes would help or hinder your story? If so, share them with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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How to Hook an Agent

This year I’m jumping a massive fear hurdle. In April I’m heading down to London to an event by Writers & Artists at Bloomsbury. I’ll join four literary agents who’ll enlighten me on How to Hook an Agent. The talks will include; how to know when your novel is ready, advice on how to pitch your novel, and the agents will tell us what submissions have appealed to them, with examples. This is followed by the opportunity for networking, and I’ll have my first one-to-one pitch session. Eek!

I can’t tell you how excited I am. Thanks to Ari Meghlen for her fantastic critiquing, and thanks to Judith Barrow for her Creative Writing workshops and her unwavering belief in my work. I’m finally ready to charm the pants off of the unsuspecting agents by revealing my first novel in the Shadow Knight Series. (Gulp)

All bravado aside, I’m dreading this verbal pitch. I’ve tweaked my original pitch to an unrecognisable mush of words. I could always wait for the event and see what the professionals have to say, but we all know I need to walk in there prepared.

 

Conquer fear Author Lorraine Ambers

Instead, I’ve turned to my fellow bloggers for advice which I’m happy to share with you.

A pitch should address five specific elements.

  • What is the title, genre, and word count?
  • What is the setting?
  • Who is the protagonist?
  • What is his conflict?
  • What does she have to do to overcome this conflict?

An important question to consider is what makes your book different from similar books within your genre. In business terms what is its USP – Unique Selling Point. Identify that and you’re on to a winner.

Remember that a one-to-one pitch is a two-way conversation, therefore it’s likely that you’ll be asked questions. They could be:

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What else are you working on?
  • Why do you write?
  • Where did this story come from?
  • How does your book fit into the market
  • What authors do you compare to?
  • Who are your favourite authors?

At conferences and events, there’ll be the chance to ask them questions too. They might be:

  • About the industry
  • The process of the transition from writer to published writer
  • Their style as an agent
  • About the craft

The most important piece of advice that I’ve found is that practice makes perfect. Pitch aloud, in the mirror, and to anyone willing to listen. Until the pitch sounds natural, not stunted. Until the words flow without thought or hesitation.

Remember, agents are normal people. Relax, smile and enjoy the event. Even if all you’re doing is learning from your mistakes for future success. We’re only human after all.

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Have any of my fellow writers pitched to agents? If so, do you have any additional advice to share? I’d love to hear from you, don’t be shy and comment below. 🙂

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.