I am attempting to write a novel that is easy to read.

Totally understand people have short attention spans, hence I use many short paragraphs, rather than large blocks of paragraphs, such as "Train to Pakistan"

And totally understand that Westerners are unfamiliar with Indian names (character names are 2-3 syllable, or referred to by their title, such as Landlord)

Do I need to get an editor for my Book before sending to publisher? By the way, I plan to give complete manuscript to publisher that accepts unsolicited manuscripts.


2 Answers 2


Any of us can edit and rewrite our manuscripts so long as we have not submitted them to a publisher. This means you can edit your book yourself. But, unless you plan to self-publish, don't set your heart on getting it published word for word the way you edit it. The publisher may see ways to improve it.


At the Publishing House

Based on what I've read in "Author's Notes" and in "Acknowledgements" in the front and backs of books, as well as in autobiographies of published authors and in the how-to-write/publish literature, the Publisher's Editor will most likely ask for additional changes. The publisher's goal is to sell the book. The Editor's goal is to make the book saleable. All the authors I have read feel deeply grateful to the additional changes required of the Editor; it inevitably makes the book so much better.

Personal Anecdote

I have had similar experience here on Stack Exchange. I wrote an answer as best I could, aware that the structure was not quite as solid and clear-cut as might be desired. However, I have only one brain and it is capable of only so much. I submitted the answer. A kind reader suggested that a certain point should be more clearly stated. At first, I did not think this was necessary or possible. However, as I let it simmer in my brain for some time, an idea occurred to me on how to do it. A bit of rewriting was called for, maybe a sentence or two. In the end I was pleased with the result; my answer now had the nice solid clear-cut structure I had originally desired. Readers liked it, too.

That is one side of the story. Not all publishers and authors are a good fit.

What if the author disagrees with the publisher?

I have talked with/read autobiographies of authors who preferred to self-publish rather than agree with a publisher's ideas of how their book should be edited. Others preferred to look for another publisher. The decision to look for another publishing venue must be made before a contract is signed by the author.

Literary Agents

There is another possibility if one feels inadequate to self-edit and publish, or feels inadequate to handle highly detailed and complex binding legal contracts with publishers potentially worth a lot of money. Literary agents are trained to handle this business end of the author's work. Literary agents help the author fix up the book, find a suitable publisher, understand and negotiate the best contract, etc. They do this for a percentage (15%?) of the author's payment. In other words, a literary agent does not get paid until and unless the author gets paid. It is in their best interests to get the author the best deal possible.

A very successful self-published author I once listened to was a businessman by career. Based on his presentation, I concluded that his knowledge of marketing and sales contributed immensely to his success in self-publishing. I myself do not have that knowledge and will be best served to share my earnings with a literary agent.


Whatever route you take to getting published, you can self-edit your book to your heart's content. The better the manuscript you submit the better the chance that a publisher will accept it. The publisher will consider how much the Publishing House needs a book in the genre vs how much time must be invested to polish it for the market so that readers will pay money for a copy, i.e. buy the book. And that's the bottom line because publishing is a for profit business.

Model To Follow

It is good that you have at least one model by which to guide your self-editing. You may want to find others--good and bad, so you are not restricted by the ideas of only one author. Since you are writing for a culture other than the one the story is set in, you may also wish to educate yourself on writing for cultures outside the one in which the story takes place.

Since I've been working on a similar situation for the past ten years, I will share some insights and pitfalls I have become aware of.


I am setting a story in my native culture (horse and buggy Mennonites who speak, dress, and live differently from surrounding society) in a novel meant for the general public. My model is New York Best Sellers when writing about a culture that considers New York Best Sellers inappropriate reading material.

Bridging the Cultural Divide

Bridging the cultural divide has been a major challenge all on its own for a few simple reasons:

  1. I have to provide enough information for the uninitiated public to understand what is happening, what the religious symbols mean, and why the Mennonites say things the way they do, use the names for each other that they do, etc.
  2. I have to be careful not to "speak down" to the intelligent reader of the general public. Readers may not know the details of the culture but they know the human condition.
  3. With regards to "the stranger" or "the other," humans tend to either idealize or demonize. For my tone and writing style I have to find the thin line between idealizing and demonizing.

Idealizing vs Demonizing

Idealizing vs demonizing can occur on different levels.

As an author of a different culture than my targeted audience, I may find myself inadvertently either idealizing or demonizing the reader, which would play havoc with book sales. I may also unconsciously set up the reader to feel for the Mennonites either idealization or demonization. That would defeat the purpose of my book, not to mention the social problems it might cause.

To promote peace on earth, I must write and edit my book to show that all of us--despite material culture, language, and lifestyle--are humans on an equal basis. That requires a different set of skills than if one is writing a story set in their own culture for their own culture. Study in cultural anthropology and religion has helped me get some perspective, as well as reading the kind of books I want to write.

Just now I found a great tip in 7 Tips for Writing About Other Cultures:

Readers should identify with your character’s human characteristics over everything else. The most interesting thing about Katniss Everdeen is not her cool hunting skills, but her unfaltering love for her sister that makes readers invest in her as a character.

Will You Need a Professional Editor?

If all of this feels intimidating you are free to hire your own editor before submitting your manuscript. I know one author who did that. It gave her the confidence that she really had what it took to write a book. Be aware that professional editors charge massive amounts of money for their services. Personally, I prefer to learn the trade on my own and ask a few friends to proofread it.

  • I love the way you write. Usually if answer is super long, I just gloss over it. You kept me quite engaged.
    – Marium
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 22:01
  • Absolutely, I wish for many people to read my novel as possible. Self-learning would be helpful to reduce the work of any editor or publishers. And I'll be careful not to inadvertently dumb down my readers. I guess I am writing the way I would understand (I'm more of a visual person that a word person, ironically)
    – Marium
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 22:04

You don't ever HAVE to get an editor. And if you're confident in your ability to edit your work yourself, you may not need one.

With that said, an editor could be helpful. For example, in your question you're eliding some words in a way that might just be informal, but that would stick out to me if you did that in your book.

You want your work to be at its best before you submit it, because the publishing market is ruthless.

  • Well,I'd have to make the eliding less obvious. In my book, I may refer to Landlord as "the Landlord" because he is the only one in the whole village. Definitely something I shall consider.
    – Marium
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 19:53
  • 1
    You should not only consider it; you must do it. Otherwise, your book will be written off as "not English." It's those little things that mark foreigners--the misplaced or missing "s's", the missing or mistaken articles. Etc. I didn't realize that was intentional; if you want a publisher to look at your book you have to write in perfect English however you accomplish that. Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 23:42
  • Marium, your English is great (meaning easy to understand) but based on the quality of writing in your comments I hope you don't try to self-publish. I had assumed, when writing my answer, that you intended to vastly improve your writing style. I am no longer sure of your intentions. Your style requires major improvement. Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 23:49
  • @sarah-bowman I thought I had nice writing style. We can all use improvement, hence I wanted to self-teach myself editing (editors charge a fortune, I heard), then give to publisher. Please advise.
    – Marium
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 12:51
  • 1
    Marium, that website looks like really good advice and will guide your writing style as well as editing. Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 14:04

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