How marked up will my mansucript be when I get it back? If I've done a full edit, my changes will appear on almost every page, sometimes five alterations on a single page: some small, some more substantial.
I've done my best on the novel. Is having my manuscript edited--with all those changes--hard on the ego? Professional writers know that editing is an essential part of the creative process, and understand the value of a fresh, unbiased review.
Will you rewrite portions of my novel?Editors generally make suggestions rather than do the rewriting. While I may often rework sentences, most of my work involving larger aspects of the manuscript will be in detecting what needs to be improved, rather than making the changes on the page. So, for example, you may find my note on page 88: "Here you have Lisa speaking calmly, in a cool, precise voice. Isn't it too early after her horrible fright on page 80 for her to have fully gathered her wits?" Should you agree, you would then make the change in your own distinctive voice.
You stress the need for a fresh and new eye on the manuscript. Why is that so important? Can't I find potential problems on my own?A writer who is editing his or her own novel may miss things for three reasons.
First, composing a novel is hard work. A writer becomes invested in the product, and so may resist the notion that further work may be needed.
Second, the writer has already invented the scene, written it, and perhaps re-written it several times. Errors may become invisible, camouflaged by the nearby good writing. Here's a small example: in one of my novels I named a character Lester Howard. Midway through the writing, I accidentally changed the character's name to Howard Lester, and he continued with that name until the end of the manuscript. I didn't catch this mistake during three rounds of self-editing. It had become invisible to me. Fortunately, the publisher's line-editor found it, but I would have preferred that the error had been caught before the publisher saw it.
And, finally, the writer may not have the technical knowledge to recognize an error in the manuscript. Here's an example: a novel should contain very little or no small talk. ("How's it going today?" "Fine, but the weather could be better.") Some new novelists may not know this rule. And there are many others that trip up writers. A professional review finds these mistakes.
Can you guarantee my novel will find an agent and a publisher after you have worked on it?No. But unless you are Lincoln and have sent me the Gettysburg Address, I'm confident I will substantially improve your manuscript.