“Editing?  No, no, no.  See, I spent years of my life on this work, connecting with my muse and channeling my inner creative spirit.  I can’t let just anyone begin working on it like it’s a car that needs to be serviced.  No thank you.”

No, no thank YOU, because you just lost your shot at publication.

You work, work, work to get your manuscript to where you want it to be and then you query, query, query until you grab that brass ring — a literary agent who believes in your work.  Great.  Now here’s how you blow it …

Most agents are also editors of a sort.  Some really are professional editors, while others dabble in it rather well.  When they take your work out to sell it, their own professional reputation is on the line and they protect that with their life.  Thus, once they feel your work has promise, they will spend time with you making sure there are no pimples, pustules, or potholes anywhere within it.  This does not mean that your work sucks.  If it sucked, you’d simply get a rejection.  What it means is that it is good enough to merit the agent’s time and that’s a good thing; a great thing.  It is also the point where dumb, egotistical noobs blow it.  The frequency with which this occurs is astounding.

Yes, I know, your manuscript is your baby, but it needs fresh critical eyes.  You may have already shown it to other writers for feedback.  Those people, you did not have to listen to.  But an agent?  He or she you listen to or else you’d better have a damn good defense regarding the specific thing they want modified or changed.

You are not perfect.  Agents aren’t perfect, either, but they are the gatekeepers and the only reason they are is that their taste and good sense are respected.  If an agent finds you unreasonable, you are toast.  As a noob, you are of no value yet as a commercial commodity.  No one will shed a tear in severing their professional relationship with you.  And people talk.  You’d be surprised who knows who in this industry.  It’s one thing to be a megastar and then act like a diva; it’s an entirely different thing to be a nobody and start pulling the diva act.

When an agent makes suggestions, suck it up.  Drown that ego.  If you disagree, be prepared to have very intelligent debates.  Some of them you’ll win.  Most good agents are also egoless enough to admit when they are proven wrong.  But you will also lose quite a few of these fights and when you do, realize it is in the best interest of the book.

If you make it this far, the final degradation is that you’ll have to go through it all over again once you get signed by a publisher and get assigned a real editor.  Sometimes the irony is that you end up putting back in many of the things your agent suggested you take out, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  Get through this gauntlet of a process and stay standing until you reach the end, which is as a published author.  But get paranoid and proprietary regarding your work and you will be nothing but a legend in your own mind.