I've never read a 'how to write a novel book' before (with the exception of Stephen King's On Writing and George Orwell's six rules) but I thought as I was being serious with the book writing this time, I'd splash out £8 (from a birthday Amazon voucher) on a Writer's Digest book of collected articles on writing and selling fiction. There was some pretty good advice in there about managing outlines and dialogue, as well as rather too much rubbish on how to write 'Christian fiction', but the section on publishers and agents was pretty enlightening. Mostly this:
"The moment the contract was signed, you lost rights and control over how your manuscript will be published." and:
"Similarly, when it comes to your book's title, know that it could very well be changed, and that it's your publishers prerogative to do so."
No thanks. While publishers have distribution channels, they don't appear to involve themselves in significant marketing or advertising for books lower down their lists, instead leaving that to the authors themselves, leaving me wondering why I would need one in the first place.
Here's Anthony Horowitz saying that publishers do provide a valuable service, in making sure a manuscript is edited and ready for mainstream consumption.
As a professional editor, I think that all texts will benefit from a decent edit. But how do I approach this as an author. I might see if I can find a fellow editor who'd work for a percentage. Or I might just do what I did with essays at university and read the pages very closely in a random order and rely on the fact that I'm very, very good at my job.