You can give your manuscript a real edge if you handle interior monologue, point of view, exposition (backstory), narrative voice, dialogue, etc. like a pro—we love it when a mainstream editor says of a client’s manuscript: “You’d never know this was a first novel.” By the same token, you may be a superb writer, but literary agents and publishing editors are unlikely to find out if your literary mechanics aren’t smooth.
Listed in the Los Angeles Times as one of six indispensable books for writers, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, has been a bestseller for writers of fiction–as well as nonfiction such as memoir and journalism that employ fiction technique–since its initial publication in 1993. (It has since gone through many printings and a revised second edition, released in 2004.)
Each of the self-editing points is clearly illustrated with examples. There are hands-on-exercises (answers included), checklists at the end of each chapter to help you put the principles into practice, and cartoons from The New Yorker’s George Booth to put everything into perspective.
Self-Editing can show you how to make your prose polished and sophisticated—in other words, it will read as though you’re an experienced, sophisticated writer. If you become great at self-editing you may not need further help, although most writers can benefit from an objective eye. (Your book is your child, and rare are those who can be 100% objective about their own children.) If you’ve done a good job of self-editing and do go on to hire an editor, the fee will almost certainly be lower.