"This manuscript is not ready for publication."
This is one of the most common--if not the most common--reason agents refuse to represent submitted work. Whether the issues are structural, grammatical, or industry-related (i.e. your book doesn't fit cleanly into an existing category or genre, due to style or issues within the story), the common rule is this: you should NEVER give an agent, editor or future reader any reason to stop reading your work. And yet, every day, we see countless examples of careless submissions which seem to have not been polished, or perhaps not polished by the right person. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes occasionally. Sometimes, we agents even send an email with a typo. And that's okay. (Mortifying, yes, but okay.)
Here's what's not okay: asking a professional to take time out of their day to critique a first draft, for free. Because that's what you're doing when you query work that is not yet ready. Most of the time, if it's clear to us that your work is haphazard, we will assume you don't care enough to polish it until it is ready. We will reject it, and your chance to work with that agent or editor will be missed. Do you really want to wonder about why you're getting rejected? Was it because your story wasn't great, or because it was packaged and delivered poorly? Editing matters. Period. Particularly when you're not there in person to champion your work.
That said, it's not always necessary to hire someone. Let's say you're not the greatest at spelling, mechanics and other grammatical details. That's fine. Do you have a friend who excels at such things? Wonderful. Please ask them to look over your work, before you submit. Make changes. Fix those mistakes. Then ask another friend to do the same. And another. (Bake them cookies, or bribe them with babysitting if you must.) Don't hit send on that query email until you're at least 90% certain your submission is coherent, clean and complete.
If you're unsure how to fix your story or your prose, if you keep getting rejected and can't figure out why, or if you don't have the luxury of friends who read a lot in your genre who can give you trusted feedback, there are choices. You can keep querying and getting rejected. You can join any number of online writers' organizations, local writing groups, etc. Or you can hire a professional editor, with years of experience at taking good books and making them great. The thing is, there are a lot of freelance editors out there, and not all have the skills you need.
In our years of publishing, we've worked with a LOT of really amazing, very experienced, extremely skilled editors. We're happy to help you find one to help you along. Whether you hire an editor, how much you want to pay for editorial services, whether you choose to apply that editor's advice...those choices are yours alone. However, we'll do our best to give you a crash course in the basics.
What Kind of Editing Do You Need?
A Short List of Editors for Hire
Please note: All editors featured below provide freelance services, with unique rates and practices. The Corvisiero Agency does not receive financial recompense for recommending any of the editors below.
Any Corvisiero Agency staff member who chooses to provide editorial services here does so in a freelance capacity and the Agency does not benefit. If you choose to hire any of the editors below, it will not increase your chances of being represented by the Corvisiero Agency. It will, however, likely improve the quality of your work.
Though we recommend the services of all editors below, it is important to do your own research and ask questions to determine whether the freelance editor in question is experienced and skilled enough to prove a good fit for your particular work. (For example: don't hire a romance editor who specializes in erotica to edit your children's book. Unless of course you feel like that editor is the best possible fit.)
Books to Get You Started
Please note: The Corvisiero Agency does not receive any recompense whatsoever for recommending these editors or titles. We simply attempt to offer what is, in our experience, a helpful and reliable selection of resources for authors seeking to improve the quality and marketability of their work. If you would like to recommend any other resources, please feel free to contact us via social media or through the form on our contact page.