I just finished revising SILVER SCAR, a book set aside in lieu of EXILE and EMISSARY. I thought it was silly to let it languish, and damn it, I like the story.
I've long billed it as a futuristic religious thriller, though some have told me it reads more like epic fantasy. It's a bit of an agonizing book for me, one with a message (not that I can pin it down in so many words--maybe that's why the book is almost 100K!). It's got something to offend everyone: Wicca, Christianity, gay characters... and I still have the feeling it's not quite there. (World building: how much is too much??) But it's revised, polished, and sent on to my agent. I'll be interested to see what she says.
So, you might wonder, why send it out if the book isn't quite there?
I think I hope! that maybe I've learned enough to know when a story is as far as I can take it by myself. I have beta readers and such, but at some point an editor needs to take a crack at it. And editing is as personal as writing, I think. As an editor myself, I look for stories that fit the Electric Spec flavor. But they rarely fit perfectly. So by editing I can bring it the rest of the way. Another editor might do something else with a story, and that's the point. Then it would fit their magazine, their line of books.
For instance, I'd read a lot of Night Shade books. I couldn't put my finger on them, but they have a flavor and a style...which is Jeremy Lassen's particular stamp. One of the reasons I was excited to have him work on EXILE is that I thought his "stamp" would help the book immensely. And I think it did.
Probably the most comprehensive editing I've had was on LOST PRINCE. It was overwhelming to get the notes, but the novella got rave reviews, so someone did something right. I turned that one in knowing it wasn't quite finished either.
There's an important theme in SILVER SCAR: You can only do what you can do. First, no book is perfect. Also, I think part of being a working artist, writer, whatever is knowing the limits of imperfection, particularly your own imperfection, and knowing when it's time to turn a work over to other professionals for advice and revision. So when my fix it list was all scratched out on SCAR, I knew it was time, though I could read it one more time and find things, I'm sure. Thing is, the things I find might not be what an editor finds, and I think real books are meant to be shared projects between writers, editors, readers.
And marketing departments, and cover artists, and agents, and... yeah.