Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain is one of the best purchases I've made in writer's resources. Valuable information on how to self-edit to tighten up your writing is on every page. Not only does it tell what to do, it gives examples and demonstrates how, so that we can learn to apply the advice.
One of my chapters was suffering from a lack of zip. The technique of motivation and reaction laid out in this treatise solved my dilemma.
It took some time for some of the tips to become more ingrained, but it makes my writing stronger, clearer and more powerful. Who doesn't want that?
I've read a number of different books on self-editing and the like, and I think this was the best one by far. It was highly recommended through Amazon reviews, which is why I picked it. I'm not sorry about the choice and I don't feel like it's just laying out one editor's preferences. It seems pretty universal.
His advice on submitting: study your market and keep submitting. A writer acquaintance of mine [published] said on average she got 20 rejections per short. Apparently 100 rejections for agents is the going average for novels. Reminding myself of this makes me feel better. I'm in good company. With that said, I intend to get a few submissions out today. It's a really odd mix in my head of not expecting very much, yet knowing eventually there will be a pay off. I give each submission my best effort.
Do you have a favorite tool of the trade? Besides the book named in this post, my other go-to's are the Gregg Reference Manual and the thesaurus. I don't know what I'd do without the thesaurus.