Nothing is ever perfect, nor is it really ever going to be. That doesn’t mean however, that you can’t get close to perfection. In the case of manuscript perfection, the key is in editing, as in good “improve your manuscript” editing. Prior to agent submission, I did most of my own editing and also had a good dozen people proofread my book. I was also lucky to sign with an agent who believes in my manuscript enough to contribute her own line by line edits. Not all agents will do this – in fact, some may send you to editors (and yes, you’ll need to pay them), in some cases, with no guarantees that they’ll take on your book post-editing (and post ‘you’re-now-out-$500′). That, of course, is your choice. However, it’s my opinion that while a good editor may indeed make your book better, it’s still a “subjective” process as that editor’s vision may not be in line with another editor, publisher, agent, or even yourself. So think wisely. I’d say that if a lot of people are saying “it needs work,” well then you’d probably be better off getting it professionally edited if you have the money, and see where that takes you. Otherwise, you can take a stab yourself as a first step. Here are some books that helped me along the way with the self-editing and writing process.
1) Self-editing for fiction writers – Browne & King
2) How I write – Janet Evanovich
3) The first five pages – Noah Lukeman
4) Bird by bird – Anne Lamott
5) On Writing – Stephen King