That’s fine. Not everyone can afford to drop a bundle on paying a professional to whip his manuscript into shape—and for a writer who’s in it for the long term, that may not be the best idea anyway. If you’ve written a memoir that will be your only publishing project ever, then sure, pay someone to smooth over the rough spots. But if you intend to keep writing, you need to learn to craft as professional and polished a manuscript as you possibly can—if nothing else, it makes economic sense for you to do the work instead of paying someone else to do it.
Get your manuscript in the best possible shape before you hire professional help. That means editing it yourself. Then format it properly (that probably means one font for the body text and one for the titles, page breaks at chapter start only, one and only one space after a period), and run a spell-checker over it if you’re an unreliable speller. You’ll save money and goodwill if your editor isn’t fixing errors you could have found yourself.
The more you can learn about writing the better. Read books about writing. Take courses. Find a local writers’ group where you can critique each other’s work. See if your library has a writer in residence who will give you a free critique. Look for continuing education courses in the creative writing department on publication readiness, self-editing, and similar topics.
I still recommend getting another set of eyes to help you with your manuscript, but you’ll save money and end up with a better book if you do as much as you can on your own first.
Some resources for Vancouver writers
- Vancouver Public Library Writer in Residence program
- SFU Creative Writing courses: includes courses on self-editing, manuscript consultations, and assessing your manuscript.
- The Editors’ Association of Canada Blue Pencil Event gives away free consultations with editors. Watch for the next one.
- The Canadian Authors Association Vancouver has talks and seminars, writers’ circles, and a writer in residence.