In order to create your best work possible, I strongly recommend finding a circle of people to help you critique your manuscript. These people can point out things that we as writers become blind to in our own work. Our story is in our head so we understand it, but a new set of eyes may have some questions. A critique allows us to answer those questions and create a more concise story.
There are three different critiques and I would suggest finding 2-3 people who are willing to offer a critique in each category. This translates into having 6-9 people looking at your manuscript before you begin to query. Trust me, it’s worth it.
A critique partner is a person who is a writer. They understand an unfinished manuscript. They know there will be spelling and punctuation errors and they will overlook them (unless something keeps standing out). They know your work won’t be perfect, but that you are coming to them for help to make your story better. They know the lingo, they know what to look for and they know how hard it is to put work out there for critique.
A beta reader is someone who will most likely buy your book. These people are readers. Only send a manuscript to a beta reader AFTER you have made revisions based on critiques received. You want this to be good work you are sending out, beta readers are not writers, they area aware your manuscript is a new work but they will also expect a story. This is your first test to see if you story is marketable.
Line Editor: Stage 3
Once your story is in place then it’s time to focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, etc. This is called a line edit. It’s the nuts and bolts of writing. It’s the final clean up before you send you work into the literary world. This is the edit that will make you look professional.