You've written your book, essay, or article. Now you need it to be shiny, so bright that your genius blinds the agent, the editor, the readers.
What are you waiting for?
Depends on what you write.
I am a line editor. And a copy editor. And a proofreader.
Those are my strongest muscles.
If you need someone to read your manuscript and give you a 30-page assessment on what's wrong with it on a global scale, I am not the right editor for you.
I like rules. I'm good with guidelines. Fine-tuning. Details and nitpicks. That said, I will laud your strengths and identify your weaknesses, move through on a sentence-by-sentence basis to make the weak strong so that readers and other writers won't point and laugh.
I will point out issues with:
conflict and tension
flat spots within the narrative
problems with narrative positioning (otherwise known as head-hopping)
weak or “on-the-nose” dialogue
shoddy and/or boring sentence structure (variation is king!)
Because no one likes being laughed at.
Unless he or she is a stand-up comic. Then, yeah, by all means.
What I can do for you:
> Point out and correct grammatical errors.
> Point out stilted or unbelievable dialogue.
> Point out when you sound like a blowhard (some folks call this "purple prose").
> Point out that you killed Joe on page 52, so there's no way he can be breakdancing at the party on page 100. Unless he's a zombie. In that case, carry on.
> Point out that Mary's hands were tied behind her back and that she's been blindfolded, so there's no way she can punch the bad guy or see that he's wearing a toupee. Unless she has magical powers. Or is a ninja.
> Point out when you are relying too heavily on clichés.
>Point out when your main character sounds whiny or weak.
>Point out when you're head-hopping through a first-person narrative.
But I can do Associated Press (AP) or Canadian Press (CP) if you prefer.
Fiction is the truth inside the lie.
Before you contact an editor ...
Have you had anyone else read this who isn't legally obligated to be nice to you?
Do you have trusted critique partners and/or beta readers? If not, GET SOME.
Have you walked away for at least two weeks and given the manuscript time to ferment?
If you've answered no to any or all of these questions, you may not be ready for an editor.