Warning old post alert…Lessons were learned and sometimes the hard way, this post is designed to guide an author and nothing more.
From my very few years active as a ‘writer’ looking to get published someday, there have been many things that I quickly and sometimes painfully learned. Now don’t get me wrong, many of those lessons were from my own making and this blog post is a resource for writers much like me who are doing their research.
I will have to begin this story from a few years back, you can scroll down to the review of the Oxford editors if you want a quick answer.
My naïve journey to publication was in its first six months. My ‘debut’ writing project also looked very naïve and well pretty much stunk in terms of everything a part from the basic story.
You haven’t need to go very far from the google search bar to find people who call themselves ‘literary agents’ and soon enough I had submitted my ‘debut’ project to everyone in that area of apparent expertise. Having exhausted the list of my ‘top picks’ the dregs were becoming my top choice. Hence my first lesson:
I received a reply from a person calling themselves an editor who worked closely with the agent in hand and this person that I would receive a reply soon (from the ‘agent’). After some months I eventually got a phone call with someone, the whole situation didn’t feel right. The agent didn’t even seem professional or have an ounce of interest, however the editor showed some likeness towards my book. This eventually led to the agent presenting a piece of paper which I should sign (yes alarm bells are ringing). The editor wanted to go ahead and edit my book even suggesting a price. After sometime I backed out and ran for the hills. My lessons on this case study were:
- Looking back my book was nowhere near the standard for a reputable publishing house. So these people were clearly taking me for a ride
- The whole demeanour of the agent and editor team seemed off to me.
- They took no real interest and then began to offer me ‘contracts’ or ‘editing’ for a price
- They could see a naïve inexperienced author who could have been starry eyed.
Now the back story has been provided I can go on to my review of the oxford editors.
Sometime later and after using the editor from lesson 1 (the one who wanted money for editing) and their free advice my novel began to take shape. But still the literary agents were rejecting left, right and center (they always did, sad face, but eventually I moved on but that’s another story called Open Evening…).
Maybe I needed my manuscript looked at, just to see if I was on the right track. Doing this from scratch and without any real English qualifications or degree really put me against the odds in my mind so I needed to know if my work was any good.
Eventually I found my way into getting a manuscript assessment. At the time just googling such services I came across the oxford editors. For an undisclosed fee they would look at my book, tell me the good things and bad. They would also provide some kind of book report. Sounds good right?
Ok so contact was made along with payment and the manuscript had been sent. Some time had passed and the person with the initials ‘CM’ would be assessing the book also made contact. She happened to be in charge of the oxford editors. Being told it would take 6 weeks I dived into editing my second book
More time passed, and more time passed. Now rule 1 or 2 in this world of literary things is to be patient but even I grew frustrated. After a few months and much contact I eventually told them that making me wait for such time and for such money was unacceptable.
Then it looked like this particular oxford editor (‘CM’) then pushed the panic button as I was sent some half-done report with some minor advising points. By this time I had learned that maybe paying sums of money is only really necessary when you can afford to lose it, and nobody is really in that situation.
I accepted that perhaps I had been rolled over but used the few points of advice and implemented them to Clark Thorn and the Warrior project.
Right then it wasn’t looking good for the oxford editors and I was ready to get a review out there. But I decided not and waited.
A new year rolled around and I received an email from the ‘CM’ who tried to assess my manuscript. Strange, I thought and decided to ignore it. Perhaps the inbox was being cleaned out. At this stage I accepted the assessment would never appear.
Some more months later I received another email, it contained two attached documents. The body of the email went something along these lines :
“I was just cleaning out a few files on the computer and these appear to have
bounced back and then gone into the junk file, so I am not sure if you ever
got the entire report and on the script, I also marked in red some of the
many typos etc – I enclose a copy as it should be helpful. I have done a bit
to illustrate where you are going wrong in grammar and punctuation. I would
really advice a good copy edit”
In all honesty I don’t particularly buy the above statement, but low and behold I had received a full manuscript assessment and the whole manuscript had even been highlighted for errors.
It had taken a year but I finally received what I paid for.
I did implement those changes and points to really give myself and Clark Thorn and the Warrior Project a fighting chance to be seen by the world but today that’s neither here or there really, that book never got published.
The oxford editors were slow, and it took a lot of chasing. Books take time and so do they, parting with sums of money for this service is something you will have to trust your gut instincts with.
Overall I got what I paid for although it took a year as opposed to 6 weeks, however I wouldn’t recommend them at all. There are so many honest and reputable editors out there, manuscript assessments are in essence pointless, what are you really looking for, someone to say your book is good?
Reviews can be either good or bad, but don’t really matter. Take the plunge and get your manuscript edited instead, and then published like me, this post is simply a warning to fellow authors not to hand over huge sums of cash, but again I’ll say that those ‘reviews’ don’t mean a damn thing.
- Think long and hard about contacting an editing or assessment agency and if they have a reputation that can be trustworthy. Check them out, look up the people they work with and for on twitter.
- Money is something that doesn’t grow on trees, so really really think about parting with the cash before deciding
- Things take time, although the oxford editors should say that the assessment would have taken longer than 6 weeks they didn’t, but it will take time.
- Use the advice given to you, I know sometimes advice can be critical but make it constructive. Use it to get ahead with writing.
My journey to publication happened without the need for literary agents, and you can see how that destination was reached by checking out the resources page. After initially getting over myself and the fact my ‘debut’ project wasn’t going to be a success I moved on and created a book called Open Evening and used the services of a trustworthy publisher/editor called Nicky from Satin Publishing.
I then took another step forward by writing Darke Blood my second novel, both books have been read and sold all over the world. But I suppose in this world you can only learn by trial and error, just be careful with money…
Thank you to those who have read and found this post. If you do have any further questions or have anything constructive to add then please comment below or get in touch via the contact page where your message will go straight to my inbox.
In all the years I have spent on this publishing journey I’ve learned a few lessons and have fashioned everything I have learned into a self help guide book. Click on the cover below for more details.