Publisher Heather Hildenbrand offers advice on how to submit your most polished work.
As an author-turned-coach-turned-publisher, I’ve seen a lot of ROUGH drafts. Some were rough like sandpaper. Some were rough like jagged splinters of wood on a hacked-on two-by-four.
The main reason for the latter was the lack of SELF-editing done by the author. And it’s something that’s way too often overlooked by new and established authors alike. I want to bust a myth for you here: Even if you are submitting to or already have a publisher behind you, you still need to revise, self-edit, and correct all those highlighted errors in Word’s spell check!
Yes, your publisher is going to go back over it. Yes, more edits may come. But by ignoring this step in the process, you’re not submitting your most polished work. And in this industry, first impressions are KEY.
When querying to any agent or publisher, you don’t want to have any words underlined in red or blatant misspellings. You also don’t want to pre-empted your query with: “Still working on the ending, but here’s what I have so far.” You need your finished work. Your best work. The work you can be most proud of. Wherever you submit your story, I encourage you to follow this advice.
There are two main types of editing. The first is a content edit. This one is a deep look at your story mechanics to identify weaknesses and strengths in things like your overall plot, theme, characterization, and how you’ve woven your story webs. It’s strongly advised to work with an editor. Your editor will tell you where your story lags, where it shines, where it makes no sense, where your jokes fall flat. These are things you can’t always see when reading your own work, which is why the value of an editor is priceless.
The second type of edit is a copy edit. Also known as a “line edit.” This version is the last step before formatting and publication. A copyeditor searches out all your missing commas and run-on sentences — this one is less time consuming of the two but is just as important. It separates a good review from a great review and is mandatory for publishing an unforgettable story.
Heather Hildenbrand is a publisher with Elephantine Publishing. Independent authors Amanda Aksel, Heather Hildenbrand and Sara Panek all came to the same conclusion; wouldn’t it be great if there was a publishing house that offered all the resources of traditional publishing, while still allowing the creative freedom of independent publishing? They set out to create their vision, and Elephantine Publishing was born.