One of the things we know for sure about the rapidly changing publishing world is that publishers want to spend less time on manuscripts. To increase book turnaround, some of the chores are outsourced to us writers. For example, I have often followed submission guidelines that require me to format my manuscript before an indication of interest is given. Actually, some of those requests seem a bit bizarre: Put two spaces at the end of each sentence but not at the end of the sentence that ends the paragraph - Okay, but is this some sort of fetish? Put 3 stars in between each scene change. Margins should be exactly 1 cm - Steady. At the other end of the process we are asked to take on more of the marketing. This is also indicated in submission guidelines, that ask for a marketing plan.
And then in between, the strategy is to put less time into the editing process, preferring manuscripts "ready to go". I went to a talk where an established author told how her first book was changed 50% under a publisher. But, everyone whispers, those days are gone. The turnaround of books has to be faster, as technology ups the pace.
With this in mind, I had my manuscript for The I.T. Girl professionally edited before going another round of submissions. The first round yielded some nearly-but-not-quite replies. I have found that this step is generally ill-advised. How do you know if an editor is any good? How do you know if the pricing is fair? Could you end up spending a lot of money and be no nearer to a publishing deal? Fair points but I think the answer is you have to have someone recommended or shop around to get an idea of what's out there.
I used SilverWood Books; a self-publishing company who provide services like proof-reading and copy-editing. They had given a talk to my writing group and I was impressed with their approach, emphasizing support for writers. The process turned out to be a rewarding and learning experience. Here's the post I wrote about it at the time while the manuscript was still under its working title, Orla's Code.
I was delighted to be asked some questions by SilverWood for their newsletter, in light of The I.T. Girl being published. Here it is.