I’ve never made any secret of it, I kind of accidentally fell into writing thinking that as long as I had a story to tell and I could tell it fairly coherently, that was all I needed in order to write a decent book. Two novels later, I have completely changed my mind. A truly polished manuscript is not only one that has been proof-read; it has been checked for inconsistencies, repetition of certain words and clunky phrases. A good editor will do all this for you and can also advise on characterisation and plot.
I have heard so many authors saying things like, ‘A book is a work of art and therefore does not need altering,’ or, ‘If I hire an editor, my work stops being my own.’ All I can say is that enlisting the help of an editor in the first instance turned my manuscript into something that agents and publishers wanted to read. Not that it was snapped up straight away – it wasn’t, but lots of the people I submitted a sample to gave me some lovely feedback and asked to see the full manuscript.
Editing services don’t always come cheap, but some are more reasonably priced than others. I’m at a stage in my life where writing is what I do during the evenings rather than gadding about town. I resolved to look at writing as my hobby, and if I think back to what I used to spend on exercise classes and socialising then suddenly my new ‘hobby’ doesn’t seem so harsh on my wallet.
Since signing contracts, my manuscript has gone through another edit. I’ve been working into the night with a massive pot of coffee beside me. It seemed every time I read the novel, I saw something new which could be tweaked or improved slightly. I’m very glad the publication date is looming, otherwise I’d never be able to stop picking at it. That’s something I need to learn: when to stop. The two main lessons I learnt during the editing process though were that my English isn’t as good as I thought, and that a fresh pair of eyes can make a huge difference. My story now has a whole new ending thanks to the second editor who worked on it.
We all know of novels which seem not to have been edited but have gone on to be hugely successful anyway, but those are very few and far between. If you want a manuscript that you can be really proud of and which will show your writing to its best advantage, I would highly recommend finding yourself a good editor.