When I last blogged about it, I’d made the decision to send off my book to a professional editor after being advised that it needed a “final polish” by a literary agent whose judgement I trust and who has been very open and free with their advice to me since I first submitted to them.

Paying for an edit isn’t a cheap business, so I did my research.  As a generally quite sceptical person, I’d read a number of articles on unscrupulous “agents” or “editing services” which were really just a front for vanity publishing firms.  As far as the agent was concerned, I had no worries. They were associated with one of the most respected agencies in the country and already had several clients published.  Moreover I’d read some of those books and liked them, so I knew that they were someone who would “get” me and my writing. I’d also talked to them on more than one occasion and I’d been really impressed, so I realised that this was quality advice I was getting.

Secondly, I looked into the editing services.  Both came highly recommended – one was run by the editor who first discovered JK Rowling and offered a full suite of courses for aspiring authors, running from basic book mapping through to full edits.  The second was a lady who had until recently been a senior commissioning editor for a children’s book publisher who was now working freelance, offering structural edits or line edits.  Both services had been recommended by more than one agent. I knew I was safe with either, so I chose the best match for my “final polish.” 

In the end, I opted for a full line edit by the freelance editor.  Firstly, because booking on courses, waiting for months and only then getting my final edit would have taken longer and while it might have been fun, it was probably an extravagance I couldn’t really afford.  The second option meanwhile was exactly what I was after.  A personal line edit of my novel.  It would soon be polished to the point where I’d need sunglasses to read it.

I contacted the editor and explained what I needed, then she agreed a date with me when the edit would be delivered.  The next few weeks I was on hot bricks.  Would the editor like my book?  Would they recommend changes I couldn’t live with?  Would I get my money’s worth?  What did an edit even look like? I needn’t have worried.   The edit, when it came back, produced the kind of changes I’d been after.  The book, which I’d reduced from 118,500 words to 79,000 words at the agent’s suggestion was now a svelte 69,000 words (which puts it in the “ideal” size bracket for the Middle-Grade (9-12) market.)

More helpful was that where any change, cut or improvement had been suggested (I agreed with 99% of them), there were notes in the margin that explained what the editor meant and why it would improve the book (e.g. "suggest removing this line to maintain the tension in this chapter"), so not only did I get an improved edit, I also learned how to improve my own editing skills at the same time.  Finally, I got some overall notes, pointing out some general inconsistencies or themes that I’d need to iron out. It also gave feedback from the editor that they’d had really enjoyed the book (and wanted to read a sequel immediately) and felt it had a lot of marketplace potential.  According to the agent (who the editor contacted to share their views of the book), this is praise indeed from someone who doesn’t give it out lightly, so I was well pleased.

So finally - after two weeks of furious editing- I’ve been through the book line by line twice, made the recommended changes and resubmitted to the agent, who I might add was very keen to have it quickly. I’ll update when there’s more news.