Disclaimer: This is a recurring and random series of posts. I'm currently enrolled in a basic writing/editing class and felt that my notes might be helpful to others. Please note, I am not an editor. I'm just an author trying to learn more about the craft to improve my own work, and sharing the things I learn along the way. Enjoy.
All manuscripts need to be edited before they are published, but before you send it off to an editor, make sure you've done your best to prepare it.
Proof your work first. Here are three ways to do this.
1) Print it! I can't explain why, but seeing something in print somehow makes you look more closely at it. I can spend hours staring at a computer screen, reading my work, and still miss things. As soon as I see it on paper, I find more errors.
The problem with doing it this way though, is cost and waste. If your printing a full-length manuscript, that can be hundreds of pages. Try to print double-sided where you can but don't try to go single spaced. Trust me, your eyes will thank you for that.
2) Read out loud! When we read silently, especially our own work, our brain plays tricks on us. We know what we "meant" to say and our brain substitutes the correct sentence or words in for the ones we might have goofed on. Reading out loud, stops your brain from this sort of "auto correct" function. You'll find lots more errors this way.
Quick tip: Try having the computer read to you. Sounds kind of silly, but will definitely help you pick out any problems. Look for free software to help you do this like Natural Reader.
3) Have someone else read it! Hey, sometimes we're just blind to our own mistakes. A fresh set of eyes works wonders. When you have agonized enough over your own words, toss your work to a friend and let them read. I bet they still find things for you to fix.