After sending out a few manuscripts with embarrassing errors, I promised myself that I would never again hit the "send" key until at least one of my beta readers had looked at the manuscript and assured me the piece was good to go.
At first, I felt kind of silly about needing an editor--after all, I am an editor!
But after writing a manuscript, editing it, rewriting it, re-editing it, and so forth, it isn't long before all the words start to look like one big blur. They don't even resemble English anymore. That's when I pass the manuscript on to friends so that they can work their magic.
The errors they find are usually small and easily corrected--a typo here, a case of verb confusion there. But there have been instances when a beta reader has saved me some truly cringe-worthy moments. On reader--bless her!--caught the fact that one of my female characters had been pregnant for nearly two years straight. Another pointed out that my female protagonist "Kerry" became "Carrie" about two-thirds of the way through my story.
Finding a Beta Reader
It's great if you have a nearby friend who's willing to edit your work. If you can't locate anyone locally, perhaps you can find a writing group or a critique buddy online. If you strike out there, you may decide that hiring an experienced fiction editor is worth your money.
For instance, I work with writers who are just starting out as well as with those who have been in the business for years and just want a quick once-over before submitting their manuscripts.
To meet the needs of all my clients, I offer two levels of editing.