It's been a while since I've posted and that's been deliberate.  In some respects, a lot has happened but in other respects, I'm still where I was before.  After sending my revised book back to the literary agent, I was pleased to see that he liked the changes.  I'd been a bit nervous about it, given that I'd basically reduced the novel by a third to make it more like the length that a Middle Grade (9-12) novel should be.  I needn't have worried though, because the agent pronounced it much improved.  However, despite it being improved, it wasn't quite ready.  I was told that it needed a "final polish" - a professional edit which would improve not only the novel up to publishable standard, but also give me personally some tips which I could take into future books, making me a better writer.  I was in two minds initially. My work had done its job and improved the book (yay!) But also it still needed work and I'd hoped it was finished (booh!)

I soon realised that this was not a negative thing (I'm a "cup half full" kind of guy). Agents don't waste time on people that are not worth their effort - representing writers is their business. Writers with no skill or no potential get a polite but short response in the main. I've spoken to a few agents and while usually feedback is a simple "Thanks, but not for me - good luck!"  However, I've been lucky enough to deal with a couple of agents who have been very generous with their time and given me useful feedback. Something I'm extremely grateful for. 

I looked into a couple of editing services. Both were highly recommended by agents and both had their merits.  One was a freelance editor who had previously been a senior commissioning editor at a children's book publisher and who offered full or partial edits. Another was a service/academy set up by highly respected figures in the industry which offered a package of services, training courses etc. including edits.

Neither was cheap and with Christmas coming up, I had to think long and hard about it (and discuss it with my long suffering wife)  In the meantime, I contacted the services to find out more.  One service offered a whole programme of support, training and editing and it was definitely appealing, but what I really needed was an edit and it could be Easter before I'd even be able to attend the courses necessary to get one. There was no doubt in my mind that I'd benefit from these, but what I'd wanted was an edit and I didn't have the financial luxury of attending courses just to get there, however useful they'd be to me as a writer (though I haven't ruled it out in the future.)

The second service was one to one and seemed to be offering what I needed - a full line by line edit with commentary on character, plot and voice - but unfortunately it wasn't cheap either. In the end we decided that if I wanted to succeed in writing, it was a cost worth paying, so I contacted the editor and sent off my manuscript for the full edit. I expect to hear back in mid February and I'll update you then with what I discover and how much work I've got to do.

One thing I've already told myself to keep in mind is that an editor's job is to tell me what's wrong with the book so I can fix it; not to encourage me or build my ego. That means that while I still need to defend my corner if I believe that they're recommending changes I can't believe in, on the whole I'll have to take it like a man and make any alterations necessary.  Fortunately I've already had some feedback from extremely knowledgeable people who've read my manuscript - something I'd be a fool to ignore but unfortunately, some of the feedback is contradictory, so I'm waiting for the editor's thoughts.  If two of them agree on something, I'm going to have to be pretty darn sure I take notice and do something about it.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get back to the first draft of the sequel - The Iron Golem. Yes, there's no doubt that I'll need to change it massively when I get the feedback on the Chronomancer's Daughter, but hey, it's a first draft - I'd have changed it massively in any case.  Besides. There's only so much left over turkey and chocolate I can handle in one holiday and I need to get busy with something more productive and containing less calories.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Here's wishing you all a very Happy New Year!