If you haven’t, I suggest you read this post.
Aspiring authors looking to take their self-published novel to the next level would be advised to do some research and find out which editor is the best for them. A word of warning here – you get what you pay for – don’t cut corners and hire a sloppy outfit.
I had two novels bagged (first drafts) that had been meticulously (or so I thought) combed over to eliminate errors. I wanted to send each manuscript to a different editor to gauge styles and form a relationship that I could use for future novels.
The first company I chose was a company called Bubblecow.
NOTE: Bubblecow have neither paid or endorsed me to write this review. This is simply my own opinion having gone through their editing process.
Reviews I had read online about the company were generally positive and they have an up to date blog with fresh content which is always a good sign.
WHO ARE THEY?
Bubblecow are a family run business operating since 2007. They have edited more than 1000 books across a wide range of fiction. Headed up by Caroline and Gary Smailes, the company offer a line-edit and detailed editors report as part of their editing service.
WHAT DO THEY CHARGE?
Bubblecow offer a ‘cost per word’ pricing structure. My 78,000 word novel – PATHFINDERS – came in at around £780.
I sent my manuscript on December 1st, and they said they would have it completed before the Christmas period.
RESPONSE TIMES/ PUNCTUALITY?
I received my edited manuscript on December 21st. Dialogue was delayed after that as I asked for clarification in places. Can’t be too critical about that because it fell over the Christmas and Holiday period.
Bubblecow offer a free test-drive of their services, where you can submit the opening pages of your novel. This is a no-brainer, and a great way to dip your toe into the pool if it’s your first experience with an editor.
I knew the opening of my novel was somewhat flabby and Gary sliced off great chunks, as you can see below.
The Sample Edit (with comments in the margin) was delivered to my inbox within a couple of days along with a fictional Editor Report offering Chapter by Chapter analysis for cursory review.
I learnt enough in that edit to go over my entire first draft again and implement the necessary suggestions. Bubblecow have a great resource on their website – a WRITING MANUAL, which in his feedback, Gary suggested I download and read. I also signed up for their ‘Writing Dialogue‘ online course, where a series of emails are pinged to your inbox to suggest ways to improve dialogue and narration: areas included Punctuation, Beats and Attribution.
These were obviously automated messages, but most importantly, they were relevant. The best part about all of this content was that it was FREE! All of this helped strengthen my conviction that Bubblecow knew what they were talking about.
I’ve worked in Sales for a decade so am only too aware of the mail hounding that goes on. I firmly believe that the best way to attract a new customer is to educate first and then offer a service second. Pre-selling is massive, especially when it comes to finding an editor that you can trust. There are a lot of options out there, and the cost is quite steep for most people, so the better a potential editor can hook their client with compelling content, the greater the chance of reeling them in.
When the online course ended, and I had read the manual, introducing new changes into my draft, I decided to send off my copy for an editor review.
The process wasn’t entirely clear because of the portal that Bubblecow use. I had to delete the edit sample I had provided, and replace it with the full novel manuscript. This could have been better explained. Nevertheless, I emailed Gary to double stamp the fact they had a new customer and he confirmed he had received it and submitted an invoice to me for payment.
It could have been the case that they ceased contact with me after I paid up until the point when the edit was finished, but that didn’t happen. I was put on another mailing list and received three emails in the course of the next week, priming me for what to expect from the finished edit.
I liked this. Again, the ‘Dear John‘ was automated which it has to be to ensure efficiencies in the business. The information was relevant, timely and interesting.
THE RETURNED EDIT
I received an email to say that my edit was ready for pickup. When I logged into the portal and downloaded the content, it was made up of two files:
- Editor’s Report (where they suggest you start – this is like a birds eye view of your story, chapter analysis and commentary)
- Bubbecow Novel Edit (line editing, grammar, punctuation and micro-level analysis)
As you can see from the screenshot, a nice summary is presented. In a way, to offer reassurances that the bloodbath you are about to be exposed to is for the greater good of making your novel better!
This birds-eye view was very useful because it allowed me to get a holistic view of my novel and identify specific chapters that didn’t flow as well as they should. The breakdown of each chapter was concise and helped in the editing process enormously.
Your returned Frankenstein edit will have suggested changes and commentary from the editor in the margins.
There is a styling format on the returned edit which takes a little while to get used to if you haven’t used it before. When you click into the Review Tab, you have the option to accept or reject the various changes that the editor has suggested.
I would say that, despite the editor’s best efforts it’s not 100% foolproof, but it’s very close. You still need to be diligent in going through the suggestions and can choose either to accept or reject their suggestion. On a future reading I still spotted grammatical errors that the editor didn’t catch – these were only a handful however.
If you are planning on self-publishing, it’s best to have a contingency plan in place and a proofreader(s) to go through the post-edited manuscript where you have implemented the necessary changes.
There was a specific character in my novel PATHFINDERS, which Caroline said jarred with the storyline. I pushed her for suggestions on how to overcome the roadblock and our dialogue helped shape my character into someone more believable, without deviating from the plot. This is something I had never considered, and implementing the changes, I feel that the story is stronger based on that suggestion.
A week after you receive your edit, another automated email is winged your way from the team at Bubblecow asking if you have any questions and encouraging follow up. I took advantage and pinged them back on forth, settling questions in my own head with them about the specific sub-genre, title, character attributes, etc.
This was my first experience with an editor. I’ve since used a second company (Inkwell – which I’ll review next) to compare and contrast styles. I wanted to understand what is involved and to what standard they hold my work. I like to think I’m extremely meticulous when it comes to self-editing, so I wanted to see if an editor could actually add anything to the process.
I was pleased to say that Bubblecow did.
They struck a nice balance between being supportive and offering critical advice. Caroline deleted my entire prologue, and offered better suggestions on how to start my novel. That is invaluable advice especially when, as writers, we have to hook readers from the opening sentences.
To aspiring authors searching for an editor, I would recommend using the Bubblecow service and I plan to use them again in the future.
image credit thecreativepenn.com