My Editor’s Reaction to My Book

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I was excited (as always) to receive the results from my editor, and I want to share my editor’s general comments about my book. This editor is from Scribendi.com. Editors from Scribendi.com are always anonymous (editor number 1479 in this case) so I don’t know if it is a he or a she. Here are his/her general comments:

Hi, and thank you for the opportunity to edit your book. Before I go into detail about this edit (and how much I enjoyed reading your novel!), I’d like to apologize for the lateness of its return. I was not the original editor on the project and saw it pop up on our work interface as a nearly-overdue manuscript, so I assume the original editor had some sort of emergency, but I don’t know the circumstances. As a novelist myself, though, I’m very familiar with the frustration of waiting for feedback and the desire not to lose momentum at this stage, so I prioritized your project and set a goal to return it to you well before the new deadline.

All that being said, what a thoroughly fun manuscript this was–skillfully written, already quite well-edited, and with such an enjoyable plot and so many laugh-out-loud lines that it felt as much like a book I’d recommend to friends as a project I needed to help polish. I should assure you, though, that you were wise to submit it for editing–as the “All Markup” option will show (under the Review tab, and then the Tracking section), I made many corrections for missing words, mistyped words (such as “and” when you meant “an” and such), some punctuation issues (missing quotation marks or periods, occasional misuse of semicolons, etc.), and other errors that can be distracting to the reader and lead to grouchy online reviews if they are not caught and corrected in time. You will find that most of my comments in the margin are praise for great lines and clever plot twists. However, my edit was careful and thorough, with three full passes to catch any sneaky little issues. A couple of bigger-picture suggestions:

1) Though your protagonist’s voice was exceedingly well-done and your POV usage perfect (something I rarely see in this job, to be completely honest), there were a couple of important moments where I felt like Robert’s naivete was too great to be fully credible. Specifically, when he completely disregards the advice on the train not to let the fairy touch him under any circumstances–he’s putting his head against the “birdcage” bars to take a selfie, then getting in close with the fairy and falling asleep–it doesn’t feel properly set up that he’s been given enough reason to trust the fairy and disregard the advice. On my second read it was especially clear to me what a wonderful and even delightful job you did constructing the dialogue and plot progression such that the “hosting Diamond-san” bit unfolded perfectly. It’s the initial setup that I felt could use a bit more credibility, and I don’t think this would be difficult to do at all–I think we just need to see a bit more (and I do mean “a bit”–like, one or two reasons) of Robert’s thought process as to why he doesn’t trust the advice to begin with or why he trusts the fairy so readily.

Similarly, his lack of concern about his growing “tumor” seems a little unusual. Especially in light of the fact that he was warned not to let the fairy touch him, and then she did, and he proceeds to have this increasingly large growth that is visible to everyone, it seems like the average person would be alarmed, worry about disease or infection, or reflect that maybe the fairy lied to them, etc. It makes *complete* sense that he thinks he might have caught a mental illness from the lunatics and that he doesn’t draw a connection between the onset of that and the growth of the “tumor,” and that’s a fun and clever aspect of the plot, but it doesn’t quite add up that he seems so unconcerned about the growth. It doesn’t seem like it would be difficult for him to come up with an alternate theory for it (wondering if it’s an allergic reaction to the fairy’s claws, or thinking it’s an infection but it doesn’t hurt or seems under control) that would allow him to credibly shrug it off.

2) This is more minor, but the matter-of-fact chapter titles could use a bit of brightening up or rephrasing for more intrigue. They don’t seem to quite match the lighthearted yet snappily-paced tone of the rest of the book.

Overall, however, this story is so imaginative and vivid, immersing the reader in a world that feels quirky, credible, and consistently fun. I find it especially commendable that you managed to do this around a plot of selling electronic tablets, which, on paper, seems like it would be difficult to make exciting. Yet through a great main-character voice, quick pacing, and a normal-ish yet odd and funny sci-fi world, you not only pull it off but hit it out of the park. Even the non-human side characters feel three-dimensional and unique, which is quite an achievement in 36,000 words. I know it may seem like I’m going hard here with the praise, but I read a lot of fiction as an editor and also in my other jobs (I evaluate self-published books for an industry review publication and I also serve as a judge for some of the big fiction writing contests), and when an author is really getting it right, I feel like they deserve to be told that.

You asked in your client notes that the editor ignore font and formatting issues. I ignored the issues with the margins, but I did change the entire doc to 11-point Arial (I did not have the two fonts you were using loaded into my Word software, so I chose another common sans-serif font) for consistency. This was mainly because it was distracting as I edited–“Ambivalence” (but not the “-tar”), in one section, was a different size than the rest of the words in the sentences–and I didn’t want to miss any legitimate editing issues due to my attention focusing on that. You can easily change the font or size, of course, with the “select all” feature.

At Scribendi we always recommend returning for a final proofread, as this is the best way to ensure that no new errors have crept in during the revision process. If you wish to request me for a future order, you can do this during the order process after uploading your document. There is a text box at the bottom of the order page that says “Editor Code (Optional).” Just type my editor code, 1479, in this space. When you place your order, the system will automatically send your request to me. Thanks again, and I wish you the very best with this book.

I have addressed the issues he/she pointed out (except the tumor, which I have a good idea on how to address that). Throughout the manuscript, I reviewed the grammar corrections and the suggestions and accepted nearly all of them. I really appreciated the good work and the encouragement he/she gave me.

The price tag (for editing my entire 36800+ word “novel”) was $1,149.66. I thought it was worth it, but not everyone has access to that much spare money.

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