If you’ve written a book, then I assume, in my role as both a writer and an editor, that you have some basic skills and knowledge of the mechanics of writing. If not, study the mechanics before letting anyone else see your work. Mechanics matter because, without them, we confuse the reader and waste our message and purpose.
Before you send your work out to anyone, make sure you’ve taken care of the glaring mistakes. Even a copy editor shouldn’t be expected to rewrite sentences that are either fragments or run-ons.
There are times when we flaunt the general mechanics of writing, but it should be obvious that we are breaking rules for some purpose and not because we don’t know the rules. If we don’t know them, then perhaps a good class or book of grammar is in order before deciding to write that romance or mystery or historical novel. If you send an editor a manuscript filled with mechanical errors, there’s a chance the editor will misinterpret your intent. Or worse, not understand it at all. And even worse for you, charge more.
While editors are a necessary part of the publishing process, self-editing is also an important part of the process. When I write a book, I probably read the whole thing six or seven times before I send it to the final content editor. Then I give it one more read before publishing. And since I self-publish these days and do all of my own formatting, I read it several times during that process as well.
Today I’m editing the novel of someone else and starting to read the first draft of my completed novel before sending off to my beta readers. When I have to spend time correcting silly little mechanical errors–both in my own work and that of others–I’m being drawn away from the story being told.
Here’s my best advice today: Eliminate the little stuff so the big stuff gets its fair attention.
Happy writing and editing!