I’ve done a lot of hard edits lately. Some were revisions while others were more along the lines of line edits. Whatever you want to call them, both were hard work for the author and time-consuming for me (I’m not complaining). In the end I know we got stronger books and are getting stronger books for it. I also know that those stronger books didn’t come from me. They came from the author. I was just one of the many tools the author had in her toolbox.
Too often I get “rough drafts” from authors. People who would like me to review their work to see if it has potential or people who think that an agent’s touch will magically transform their manuscript into a salable book. Sadly, I’m just a Muggle and when it comes to edits the only true success must come from the hands of the author. I can point out areas that I feel are weak or problematic, but I can’t fix them for you. If I could I might consider becoming an author myself.
One of the hardest things to accept in this business is that if you’re struggling with your book, if you know there are problems, you are truly the only person who can fix them. An editor or critique partner can certainly help point things out, she can be the tool you need to see better, but you need to see the book in the same way in order to make the necessary change.