The Oxford Editors : A review

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.

Lesson 1…

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:

  1. Looking back my book was nowhere near the standard for a reputable publishing house. So these people were clearly taking me for a ride
  2. The whole demeanour of the agent and editor team seemed off to me.
  3. They took no real interest and then began to offer me ‘contracts’ or ‘editing’ for a price
  4. 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. 

Lessons learned

  1. 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.
  2. Money is something that doesn’t grow on trees, so really really think about parting with the cash before deciding
  3. 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.
  4. 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… 

db and oe

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.

Jurassic World : Dinosaurs still rule the earth


JW1For many movie going folk Star Wars is the biggest deal for them this year, but not for me. This past weekend saw the sequel to a film that captivated generations of people and still does to this day. I remember seeing Jurassic Park multiple times and then spending ages trying to get hold of a forever sold out VHS copy.

Jurassic World did the same for me (apart from the VHS thing). As a proud 90’s kid I felt as if that era was on the line for me here. Our lives were in the hands of a not so known director Colin Trevorrow. His job, to bring back  something that many think couldn’t be bettered.

You know what many people will be right because Jurassic Park revolutionised so much and paved the way for modern film. But Jurassic World in many places bettered the work that Steven Spielberg did. Of course throughout the film there were moments that nodded to the first but this one had it’s own voice and that was achieved by making these dinosaurs the characters.

Instead of this being a ‘monster’ flick, the characters in this film include the dinosaurs. There is a great connection from an audience point of view to these creatures who have their own spotlight. They aren’t just CGI imagery, they mean something more than just monsters. You really feel for these larger than life beings that once ruled our world and that is something this franchise has never succeeded in telling us until now.

The park is open

We were treated to some stunning visual shots and the park really looked like what John Hammond envisaged

Again he concept of humans pushing genetics too far is center stage and they are rightly punished. An old story of human interference with nature resulting in disaster. Nothing new but delivered in a different way. A very much lethal cross bred dinosaur escapes captivity and all hell breaks loose.

For all Jurassic fans it’s right up their alley.


Bryce Dallas Howard holding a flare, I think we know what will follow

To put things right it is up to the main man Owen who is played by Chris Pratt, a velociraptor handler/trainer (yes there isn’t a manlier job, ever).

From this film he should go on to be the next Indiana Jones no doubt. His presence as the hero was simply brilliant. Joined by the park’s main administrator Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) they struggle to track down this dino-predator and the 20,000 visitors are now the prey. We do see an Indiana Jones style relationship develop here ticking yet another box for me.

Parts of this film were indeed scary and tense, something which delivered better than the original perhaps on a larger scale. I think comparison to the original is what this film was mainly about but to me Jurassic World stood taller. In the end it was up to the dinosaurs who closed the original, defending their honor.


Conclusion  9/10

This wasn’t just a film about monsters, in fact these creatures didn’t feel like monsters at all. They were characters in their own tale of how no matter what interference they have, life will find a way. The best film of the 90’s and it’s reputation was fantastically defended, Jurassic World did what the original didn’t and that’s tell us that dinosaur’s weren’t monsters at all.

No doubt I will be seeing it again in the cinema. A reported 204 million dollars taken for its first weekend, the T-Rex can still roar, and it’s louder than anything else this year so far.