When I finally got to the place in my writing where my future agent of awesome had asked for revisions, I was ambushed by fear. My beta group at that time was at the same writing level as I was. None of us had an agent and none of us were published.
So I hired an editor.
She saw all the bits that I thought were good enough but that were still at a lower level of professionalism. She pointed out where she went all WTF IS THIS??!! A new pair of eyes saw all of the flaws that my crazy writer brain missed. There were a lot—like hundreds or maybe thousands. I fixed them all well enough to sign with my dream agent.
Guys, there is no way under heaven that you can write your own book, and edit out the flaws without another opinion. (Family doesn’t count. Of course your momma loves your book.) The problem is that we seldom have friends who are at a higher writing level than we are. Published authors tend to hang together. (Mostly because they don’t want to be harassed for an introduction to their agent or editor.) Uber- ginormous published authors have beta readers that they can trust and they have tons of deadlines so you can’t bother them. Seriously, don’t do it because RUDE.
But what you can do is to either BEG someone better than you to read or, you can hire an editor.
After you have worn out your Beta group, you need a content editor first. A content editor points out the best ways to make your characters shine. They tell you where you’re wandering off into the swamp of the muddy middle. They also tell you where you make their brain go into a seizure trying to figure out WTF is going on. They fall into the plot-holes so your readers don’t.
If you’re serious about writing, hire a content editor. You’ll learn stuff. If you absolutely can’t afford it then find every contest, drawing, and auction you can and get a professional edit.
There are a lot of agented writers who do editing work. I do and you can see all of the prices and things here. http://jrbutcher.blogspot.com/2013/04/i-can-tell-you-why-your-manuscript.html or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The lovely Authoress Anonymous does and you can find her rates here. http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2007/01/authoress-edits.html She is awesome and has been my critique partner for a while. You’ll love her.
After you’ve fixed all of the things that your content editor pointed out, you need a line editor.
Don’t argue with me because YES YOU DO. Unless you are a professional editor, you absolutely will not find all of the problems. Even if you are an editor your own brain still sees your story as it wants it to be, not as someone else sees it. Habits sneak up on the best of us, bad habits, evil habits. The comma fairy will come when you are asleep and poop all over your manuscript and you won’t even notice.
I use Richard Shealy as a line editor and you can find him at http://sffcopyediting.com/index.php/who/ Even if you’re not writing scifi or fantasy, give him an email.
So let’s review the order of how we edit our finished manuscript.
1. Have a beta group of readers
2. Hire a content editor
3. Fix all of the things
4. Hire a line editor
5. Submit your work to agents and editors.
6. Get an agent or a publisherStart all over again