Huffington Post short article: This is What Editors Know About Publishing That Writers Don’t
The key points:
“Good editors really can add value in two ways. First, editors are industry professionals who can educate often-naive authors about the facts of life in the real world of publishing. […] Second, and even more important, editors can view writers and their products from the outside, which authors themselves rarely can.”
(Note that this is referring to experienced, skilled, knowledgeable, GOOD editors. Not the majority of freelancers out there who just proclaim they are editors but don’t have the requirements.)
I think many experienced authors already know the information/advice mentioned. But for all, and especially new, authors, the critical statement is “Just because you want to write it doesn’t mean somebody else wants to read it, and certainly not that he or she wants to pay for it.”
Face reality. If you are writing your own memoir or whatever–unless you are a celebrity, no one gives a damn about you, your life, your experiences, your “wisdom”. If you want to write your story for yourself, or maybe to distribute to a few family or friends (who really don’t want it, but will feel obligated to seem interested), then most certainly do so. But don’t think that an agent or editor will want it, or that you’re going to make money self-pubbing it. And if you are writing fiction–well, what makes your book special and better than the other four million publishing this year? How skilled a writer are you, how different and interesting is your story (in the judgment of others, not your own), did you pay for the best editing available, did you invest in a professional cover, how many months/years have you spent building up your social media following, have you invested in advertising? This is not Field of Dreams, no one’s going to come (buy) just because you wrote it.
As I said, the article is short, give it a read.