In book publishing, an acquisitions editor (also known as a commissioning editor) is essentially a buyer. It is the job of the acquisitions editor to advise the publishing house on which books to publish.
Usually, the actual decision of whether or not to contract a book is made by a senior manager rather than the editor. Nevertheless, these guys are the kingmakers when it comes to authors, especially those seeking first-time publication. Self-publication has been known to be effective, but you should be ready for a long, hard marketing slog to get your project off the ground (though there is a lot to be said for the pleasure of seeing your work in print). The far quicker but oh-so-hard way is to wow an acquisitions editor with a compelling synopsis and engaging, well-structured writing from the first sentence to the last.
Our editors know to pay particular attention to the opening passages of your manuscript and are all well versed in exactly what the AE is looking for. For some inspiration or simply for sheer pleasure, check out these top 100 opening linestop 100 opening lines.