Once you’ve finished writing your manuscript, think of it as a roughly hewn sculpture. The raw materials have been compiled, the basic shape is there, but it takes a great deal of polishing before the project can be considered finished.
In writing, as in life, errors happen to everyone. And anyone who has been working on a manuscript for a long time is much less likely to spot grammatical mistakes than a reader approaching the manuscript for the first time. Seek a fresh set of eyes that can identify errors that the writer’s eyes are likely to miss, or that can offer feedback regarding stylistic choices and organization.
Feedback from family, friends, and neighbors can be a vital aspect of your manuscript’s development—that said, professional editors have the skills to root out persistent global errors and hard-to spot grammatical errors that most folks miss. Don’t underestimate the value of a trained outside perspective!
The best way to get on the same page with a freelance editor is to send her or him a small sample of your manuscript (e.g. 10-20 pages) as a test-drive. This way, you can get a sense of the editor’s style, ask for a cost estimate using the sample as a point of reference, and identify any issues in the feedback before the editor commits to working on the entire manuscript.
Be sure to communicate clearly regarding the variety of edits your manuscript needs.