• What the Editor Said

    Posted on June 10, 2012 by in Editing

    Hiya.  I’m traveling right now for work and am writing this from a college dorm.  It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of communal showers.  As far as I’m concerned, it can be an even longer while next time.

    The schedule has been fairly hectic, so I haven’t had the chance to do as much of my own work as I would like, which is a shame because the day before I left on my trip, I got my editor feedback on Out of the Ashes.

    This was a new experience for me.  I’ve worked with betas for years.  I’ve seen this term used in a couple of different ways.  But the people I label as betas are friends who are writers themselves.  They read what is usually a fairly polished manuscript and catch everything from simple spelling and grammar mistakes to bigger logic, pacing, characterization, etc. problems.  I have two such godsends in particular with whom I’ve worked for the past several years.  We’re friends.  I like to return the favor for them when I can.

    Because Redemption was such a monster in terms of length (101,000 words), I brought in still more help, including a friend who works as an editor in her “offline” life.

    With Out of the Ashes, I wanted to try working with someone who didn’t know me as a friend.  Ashes is shorter overall, so it was more affordable to use a professional editor (as most take manuscript length into consideration when quoting their rate) than it would have been with Redemption.  Plus, I wanted to get feedback from someone who might be tougher on me than my usual creative partners in crime.

    Ashes is a reworked fairy tale.  I’m a fan of fairy tale inspired stories, but I’m not sure that sentiment is universal.  I thought it might be wise to get an “outsider’s” opinion.

    I checked out the websites of several professional freelance editors and wound up going with a company called BubbleCow.  They came recommended by Joanna Penn, someone I admire, and they were affordable ($10/1000 words).  Ashes is currently just over 53,000 words, so financially I could swing it.  I don’t mean to knock professional editors or make light of what their time and expertise is worth.  But even with the success Redemption has enjoyed, I’m not at a place where I can spend $5,000+ on an editor (a rate I saw quoted by several freelance editors).  I wish I could do that.  But I can’t just now.  Maybe one day.

    BubbleCow had my manuscript for a little more than a month.  They sent back a seven page Editor’s Report and the manuscript, marked up using track changes.    The news, by and large, is good.  In the opening of the Editor’s Report (and by the way, this person is anonymous–I know nothing of their background and/or biases), my editor wrote:  Overall a strong narrative, one that is engaging and interesting.

    The fairy tale connection seemed to work well for them, which was music to my ears.  They had useful observations and caught some minor typos and grammatical issues.

    One thing that surprised me, though, was their urging me to expand the story some.  The editor wrote:  You could expand the story to novel length, with ease. More about Matthew’s life would be interesting.  S/he then went on to point out some sections where they thought there might be more story to tell.

    This is interesting to me.  I hadn’t felt like much was missing from the narrative.  The character of Noah is my modern day Cinderfella.  Matthew is Prince Charming.  Like the fairy tale, I’d been focusing more on Noah’s plight.  Matthew’s challenges (and I did give him some) seemed easily surmountable to me.  But perhaps I’ve missed something.  My editor certainly feels as if I might have.

    Perhaps my second book won’t be released in August after all.


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