WITH TWO BOOKS in the pipeline and suddenly flush with cash after selling a lung (that’s why we carry a spare right?), I decided to enlist the help of a different editor.
Wanting to compare styles, and find a partner for my future writing efforts, I was keen to see how Inkwell compared with Bubblecow (Review 1 here).
(Still wondering whether you need an editor? – Click Here)
Inkwell had been on my radar for a while. A year ago I sent the first draft of a novel to the team to seek representation. I received a curt rejection letter in response – par for the course, but it didn’t dissuade me from contacting them again to see where exactly I was going wrong.
NOTE: Inkwell have neither paid or endorsed me to write this review. This is simply my own opinion having gone through their editing process.
WHO ARE THEY?
Inkwell Group was founded by Vanessa O’Loughlin in 2006. Offering a range of consultancy services to writers at all stages of their development, the company also organise workshops (both online and off), to help with improving areas of your writing and blogging.
WHAT DO THEY CHARGE?
Inkwell wanted a sample section of the beginning of my novel to estimate the cost. Coupled with my word count (75,000), they charged me €1045 (£800). This was for a copy edit and proof read. By comparison, Bubblecow charged €1015 (£780) for a copy edit.
I sent my manuscript on December 16th, and was told that I would receive it back by January 11th.
RESPONSE TIMES/ PUNCTUALITY?
I received my edited draft on the exact day that Vanessa said – Jan 11th. There was an initial delay with my initial enquiry placed on December 9th – I had to gently remind the company that they had a fish dangling on the hook if they wanted to reel me in! Also, with the final email I was missing an editors report. Again seeking clarification, I received the remaining piece of the puzzle to help make sense of the edit.
This wasn’t a major gripe, but when there are so many options in the market, it can be the little things that make the difference.
Very straightforward and the specific services are neatly laid out on the side bar of the website.
I was most interested in the copy edit/proofread service and promptly filled out the fields detailing the genre, title and word count of my draft.
There was a back and forth dialogue over email with Vanessa who was quick to answer my initial questions. When I went over my draft a second time to clean up chapters and tie up some loose ends, I confirmed my final word count and was given a deadline that I was happy with (considering Christmas fell in the middle of the edit).
There was a three week gap before I heard from the company again. Given that my only other experience with an editor up until that point had concluded a few weeks earlier (with a different novel), I couldn’t help but make comparisons.
Bubblecow included me in relevant email correspondence (nurture campaigns) to ensure that I hadn’t been forgotten, explaining what was happening behind the scenes – discussing testimonials/success stories and what to expect when I received the edit from them. That approach certainly helped fill the anxious waiting time, strengthening the connection with the company as I waited for the deadline date to advance.
I resisted emailing Vanessa to see how the edit was progressing, but had a finger poised over the keyboard if the deadline date passed. Thankfully, it arrived bang on time.
THE RETURNED EDIT
I received two main files:
- Notes for the Author (high level overview)
- Novel Edit – what I hoped was my kick-ass, error free, returned edit with the invoice stapled to it, saying ‘there was nothing in there that needed editing – here is your refund!’
Notes for the Author
The first thing that an inspiring author should do when reading unbiased, critical feedback for the first time is to read it and digest it over several days/weeks. Digestion isn’t always easy. First impulse will make you want to bang your head against the wall, fire an email to the editor to explain a certain subtle plot knot that you had carefully embedded which was OH SO OBVIOUS to anyone with HALF A FRICKING BRAIN!!
But you’d be wrong to react that way. It’s hard not to. You’ve slaved over your story for months and maybe years. Ultimately, your editor is also in many cases the first reader who doesn’t need to offer false platitudes. The critique I received from Inkwell was concise, cutting and insightful.
EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED!
I’m a fan of tough love. Success doesn’t come easy, certainly not in the realm of self-publishing where barriers to entry are low. If you’re parting with over a thousand euro, you certainly don’t want the softly softly, butter wouldn’t melt kind of limp-dick praise that your spouse would offer.
This is dog eat dog. And just because you’re a pup now, doesn’t mean that you can’t grow into something to be feared when you enter the battle arena.
The snapshot above gives a high level overview of the book, certain chapters, characters, plot holes, prose style and more. There were five pages for me to chew over and analyse with my new psychiatrist!
Dropping from a macro to micro level, we can really get a better understanding of some of the recommended edits required to whip my story into shape. I was convinced the opening chapter was as strong as anything I had written, but boy was I wrong!
With the Review/Track Changes turned on within Word, it’s easy to see suggested edits from the editor – the lines in red. There is a LOT in there at first glance. We aren’t saying that what I wrote before was necessarily all bad (at least I hope not!). What the editor is doing is tightening the story, cutting the fat out to make the dialogue or scenes snappier – especially important in the opening paragraphs to hook the reader.
A little deflated, but most importantly wiser after reading some of the critique, I’ve had time to reflect on the experience and am happy with the end result.
If you want ego strokes, save your money and share your first draft around with friends and family who will only be too willing to offer congratulations, while behind closed doors they stumble through a story that makes little sense.
If however, you want cold hard truth and a better chance of winning the lottery and finding commercial success with your novel, then you should consider taking on an editor. At the very least, it’s an investment in your writing career as weaknesses in your own skill set can be identified and worked on for Novel 2 and beyond.
I would recommend using Inkwell Group if you are ready for tough love, and want to bring your novel to the next level.
image attributed inkwell writers