So, you’ve finished your book. Break out the champagne! You think it’s perfect, and family and friends are wowed by your literary mastery, so you dust off the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook and start to look for agents (or publishers) who take your genre. But wait! Are you sure it’s the masterpiece you think it is? A critique by a stranger who isn’t afraid to voice his views, good or bad, is worth one hell of a lot, and well worth the money.
But shop around, because there are some who don’t deliver. I’ve had a few “professional” edits: John Hudspith Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau, Writers’ Magazine £49 Critique for the first 10,000 words and The Hilary Johnson Authors’ Advisory Service.
Jacqui Bennett Writers’ Bureau had EDEN and was the best by far. Encouraging as well as tutoring. I learned a lot from her, and even once she’d finished she encouraged further questions. It was all done over the Internet with my chapters flying through cyberspace to her for review and edit. She pointed out my mistakes, helped me rewrite various scenes and lectured me where she felt was appropriate.
It was like she was with me, looking over my shoulder, as I typed away.
The Writers’ Magazine had A PROPER CHARLIE and was disappointing. It was interesting to get another point of view, but this was something I was getting from the website youwriteon anyway, and so thought my £49 pounds was wasted. I don’t think WM offers this option anymore, which is just as well.
Hilary Johnson had VELVET CURSE and was disappointing too. I sent her my entire manuscript and waited with baited breath while she reviewed it. She told me she would correct any mistakes/typos and help with things like sentence structure. My precious novel came back smelling strongly of nicotine, which was most unpleasant. She doesn’t hold back, so her advisory isn’t for the faint-hearted, and my novel was ripped to shreds! She told me all what was wrong with it, but didn’t offer anything to help me. Some of my text was underlined with squiggly lines but with no instruction as to why and I was left scratching my head.
Hilary had offered to look at my MS again for free, but to be honest, I was so upset by her fierce review I refused. But looking at the manuscript now, I can see that is was no where near ready for publication, although I still say, not as awful as she claimed, and some of the squiggly lines still leave me perplexed today.
Somebody new to writing could have been totally put off by her furious approach. Others, though, have nothing but good to say about her advisory. So don’t let me put you off.
Johnny Hudspith’s critique is excellent. His editing is simple to understand, and he doesn’t mind being questioned on the whys and hows of his edits. His prices are affordable with credit crunch Britain and worth a look. He had A Proper Charlie, and seemed genuinely impressed. He only took five months to edit the entire MS, and it was all done in chapters by email and payment was taken via paypal.
Cornerstones had A PROPER CHARLIE after Johnny Hudspith because they’d been emailing me requesting that they could help. I researched into them and saw that they were scouts for agents, and so took them up on their offer. It was a little pricey at just under £300, but they have various packages so just choose one that’s right for you.
It was sent to a reader who took about four months, and sent a very constructive report back to me. It was seven pages, and offered advice, criticism, encouragement and seemed to think that overall I had a very strong manuscript to sell.
Unfortunately, Cornerstones didn’t take A Proper Charlie on, but have asked I stay in touch and send them my next novel for consideration – for free.
I gave myself until November 2010 to find an agent for Charlie, and if I didn’t find one I’d self-publish with YouWriteOn again. And so, here I am, final edits in place and Charlie is flying through cyber space towards said publisher.
The publication date is somewhere between Feb and March 2011.