Don’t forward emails in gmail, as chunks of text are likely to send in purple and you are likely to look like a lame, twelve year old girl.
Got it? Now on to the post. :P
A while ago, while naively certain I was ready to query my MS (ha! I haven’t felt that stupid since my childhood belief that cars plugged in and had bonnets full of retractable, vacuum-cleaner-style power cables), I decided to try out an editing service, and today I thought I’d outline the process for anyone considering it too.
Firstly I researched editing services and found two companies offering free samples for your first few pages. However one company’s homepage was so heavily plastered with pictures of hot women in office uniforms (a hallmark for any trustworthy website) that I chose only to try out Scribendi.
The Scribendi site boasted easily accessible quotes and a quick, simple process for submitting my work, which included an opportunity to note any existing concerns I wanted my editor to watch for. Within three days (not bad for a free service, and the paid version can be even quicker), they sent back three documents. The first was a clean revision with generic notes for both good and bad things which stood out as they were reading. The second was a tracked-changes document, which focused on grammar and punctuation and included the comments from the clean revision so I didn’t have to alternate between two files. The tracked-changes document shows you what isn’t working and includes suggestions on possible wordings to fix it, and I was given plenty of punctuation explanations to help me learn the rules for next time, which was particularly helpful given the difference between Australian and American standards (apparently ‘g’day mate’ isn’t a commonly used salutation in the US. I know, I’m surprised too. :P).
Finally, my Scribendi editor sent a page of overall comments, with separate sections for story/plot, characters & characterization, narrative/prose, language/grammar, dialogue, word choice and final thoughts. Unfortunately they raved about my work so much that I couldn’t tell whether they were being honest or just trying to win me over as a customer. It’s no exaggeration that they were fangirling worse than a nerd in a library full of star wars toys and at first this put me off buying a sample, however their advice was still extremely helpful, and eventually I treated myself to a paid edit of my first chapter. At $32.71 for 1434 words you may say it’s a little steep, or you may say it’s worth it for a serve of editorial goodness, but either way I have a recommendation for you. Edit like crazy yourself first, so you get to know whether your editorial style is working, and so you don’t end up paying to perfect something you’ll only scrap later.