I have a really embarrassing secret to tell you. Before WiDo Publishing picked up my manuscript, I really had no idea how the "editing" part of the process went (wait for it, this wasn't the embarrassing part.) The only example I had to go on was an episode of Little House on the Prairie that I saw in third grade, where Laura sends her book off to a big New York publisher and the editor inserts the changes and sends it back for dear Laura's approval. Or something like that. Anyway, I really - really - (and please don't think less of me) thought that editors literally changed the story, and then sent it back to see what you thought of the changes they'd made. I know, right? Totally wrong. And I'm so glad that that's not how it works. Sidenote: I tried really hard to not run two "thats" concurrently and clearly failed. But I digress.
By the time I was querying WiDo and several other publishers, I was certain that my manuscript was as good as I could get it. And that's true. It was as good as I knew how to get it at the time, but it wasn't even close to a finished product. And then my editor sent me the first round of "overview" edits, and it was like a lightbulb went off, revealing not only the gaps in my pacing and plot, but also a sidekick to help me see how to fix them. I sent the revisions back to her a few days ago. Were they all for the better? Only time (and my editor) will tell. But I do know that the kind of writing she liked and said: do more of this, came easier. The changes she asked for made sense, and that helped educate me not only for these edits, but for future drafts. And I'm so glad that I was the one who sweated out those changes.
Even if you don't have an editor, find people you trust to review your work. You'd be amazed at who sees what holes. My husband even helped me rewrite the ending to my YA fantasy novel. A friend from high school helped me see through my muddled first draft to the key parts of the story. Another critique partner threw a stark raving looney fit when I tried to make a big change. And she was right. Make sure it's people you trust to be honest, and people who have your best interest at heart. And then be prepared for them to find things they want to see polished, because that really IS why you gave it to them in the first place, even if secretly you hoped they'd come back and say: don't change a thing! I'll admit it, I had a itty bitty baby hope every time I sent it to someone to critique and even when my editor read it for the first time that they'd declare it the best thing they'd ever seen. But thankfully they didn't say that. For starters, I'm glad I have friends who love me enough to tell it like it is. But even better: they care enough about the story to say: this part/dialogue/character/whatever needs some help.
And this is where I feel a need to plug my fantastic publisher. In re-reading that version of the manuscript that I sent them, I can see how much work it still needed, and it made it obvious to me that they believe in the story and in Tanzy just as much as I do. They took a huge chance on a brand new, unrepresented writer, and that's a source of inspiration for me to put in whatever it takes to bring this great story to life in the best possible way. I can't wait to share it with you :)
I'm kind of fangirling all over my editor right now. So I'll conclude by repeating what I tweeted upon receiving that first round of overview edits: there is no better education for a writer than an editor who believes in your story.