Before you send your manuscript to an editor or agent, you need to edit it for spelling and grammatical errors. There is no easier way to see your manuscript in the slush pile than to submit it with errors.
Many first-time authors make the mistake of thinking the publisher’s editorial staff will fix their errors, and though it’s likely, you will miss a few along the way, the editors are not going to take the time to make numerous corrections in your spelling or grammar. In fact, the focus of the editorial staff is to make sure the author didn’t miss any errors, the book flows smoothly, and the format is correct.
Although many authors will tell you they are not good at self-editing, that doesn’t mean they are excused from turning in a manuscript that is as perfect as possible. If you are weak in self-editing, you can hire a professional editor to do the job for you. Do not under any circumstances turn in a manuscript that is not as perfect as you can make it or you will find it in the editor’s slush pile.
Although you can ask family and friends to assist you in locating errors in your manuscript, do not rely on them to tell you whether they feel your novel is well-written and/or interesting. That is not to say that editing is an easy job but friends and family can be more constructive when it comes to pointing out a spelling error than they can when it comes to evaluating your novel as a whole. The reason to let someone else edit your manuscript before you submit it is because it’s easy to miss things because quite often when you are self-editing you see what you know the words are supposed to be rather than what you actually typed.
One of the best ways to edit your manuscript is to put it away for at least a week after you finish it—a month or two is preferable. The reason for this is to allow the mind to clear so that you can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. In this way, you will reduce the possibility of missing critical errors and may also find a better way to write a particular scene or chapter when you have left it alone for a while. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to have someone else look at it before you submit it, but your self-editing will be better if you leave your novel alone for a while before you attempt to submit it to an editor, publisher, or agent. Never settle for less than perfect when you submit your novel for publication even if it means paying a professional editor to both line and content editing.