The last thing I remember winning was a bottle of Babycham from the Summer Fair raffle when I was at primary school. It promptly vanished and I never got to enjoy my prize, although my parents seemed quite chuffed (!) But, I can now say differently as I recently won a critique from a professional editor on the first 5000 words of my WIP!
I came across the giveaway on Kristin McTiernan’s new YouTube channel. Kristin is a professional editor and fellow author I know through Instagram (@kristinmagoo) and when she announced her new channel I immediately subscribed. I now eagerly await her videos to be uploaded. As someone who is self-editing one book and writing another, I devour any hints and tips I come across from editors and authors. Anything to help me improve. Her channel is no different.
One day whilst listening, I heard her mention a giveaway: a critique of 5000 words! I immediately entered with all my fingers and toes crossed. I’m nowhere near sending my manuscript off to editors, but I knew I would benefit from a professional’s opinion. Days later, a notification came through that I’d actually won!
After taking the weekend to make my first 5000 words as good as I could, I nervously pressed ‘send’ and a week later my critique arrived!
I received several pages covering “First Impressions”, “Grammar/Punctuation/Mechanics”, “Characters”, “‘Grab’ Factor” and “Editing Recommendations”.
As a teacher, I understand the benefit of constructive criticism, so the process didn’t faze me at all. It was great seeing the opening chapters from someone else’s point of view. Sequences and reactions were questioned which I would never have considered. Kristin herself was friendly with her critique but honest; the perfect combination needed to get manuscripts looking their best. I would highly recommend her and can already see improvements in my manuscript. All in all, it was a really positive experience. (Phew!)
If you’re in need of an editor or simply want to reach out, her website is can be found here.
I have to admit I’m enjoying self-editing my book. Prior to this, I had little experience of editing, let alone self-editing. Consequently, I researched lots and, as per normal, ended up finding my own way.
I have marked books and assessments for over 10 years, but always within the constraints of the school’s expectations and marking code. Here, I have found editing my own book a little similar to my book marking, but without the worry of staying within a marking code and failing to meet expectations. In other words, I can rip my book to shreds and not worry about upsetting anyone by my brutal honesty! I can also use other colours other than red and green. Simple things.
I have already scrapped two characters, if you count a cat enough of a character. My male lead has changed quite significantly too. (But I won’t post any spoilers here, as I don’t want to spoil it for those on my mailing list – who will be given the five chapters free once they are ready).
Things that have worked for me:
Read-Through – I have found doing several read-throughs, marking in different colours, highly beneficial. Whilst some articles recommend focusing first on typos, then on punctuation, etc. I find I can’t do this: if I encounter problems I have to sort them straight away.
My first read-through was a lot less brutal than my second, so I would recommend anyone else in a similar situation reading through their manuscript several times.
Kindle-Editing – I have also found it extremely useful emailing a mobi copy of my manuscript to read on my Kindle. Apart from it being such a thrill to see my book as a readable eBook, it’s been very useful highlighting and making notes for improvement whilst reading. I shall keep doing this every couple of chapters so that my book will have been self-edited to oblivion before sending it onto professional editors.