The Oxford Editors : A review

Warning old post alert but it has been updated for 2018. I can happily announce that I am now an independently published author. Check out my books and journey by reading my more recent posts or the resources section….

Background…

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 demeanor 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, just don’t do it! There are so many honest and more 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 7 : Winter is Coming (Season 1 Finale)

For those who have been here since the start, our journey of series 1 is coming to close. The Hall of information is going on holiday next week so I thought this would be appropriate to end the pilot series of this blog.

But has the Hall been commissioned for a second series?

My answer to that is yes yes oh yay! The following I have received has been enough for me to put efforts into continuing this campaign with publication of my book firmly in sight. There will come a transition phase during the second series where my blog post’s will become more frequent. I quite like the idea of Thursdays, the weekend is in sight and people are in much better moods. But my initial thoughts would be to release content on a Monday also!

GOT

Game of Thrones Review 

By way of making this blog popular, I review popular things (that’s probably the most valuable lessons I can give to someone thinking of doing a blog. Reference popular stuff, it makes it more appealing)

So for my birthday I was given series 1 and 2 of the popular George R R Martin television adaptation Game of Thrones. Having been a citizen of the internet since this show’s arrival I was no stranger to it’s perception. In fact I was led to believe that the whole cast would be killed off on an episodic basis. That’s the exaggeration of the trolls for ya. But I was impressed to say that wasn’t the truth.

We are thrown into a world of castles, kingdoms, trial by combat and successors to an iron throne. There isn’t nearly enough words for me to describe this rich and immersive world of characters that is somewhat brief in my opinion (I will say tits, tits everywhere). I understand the book is immensely complex and translation to TV requires attention spans to be kept on their toes. To me the series seemed rather slow from the get go although there were plenty of moments that shocked and intrigued me. There just wasn’t enough for me to sink my teeth into. I love TV shows, the time spent with characters and their stories developing over episodes is something I very much appreciate.

the king

Although I haven’t a bad word to say about Game of Thrones, the first series felt more like a chore than an enjoyment to me. I have been told, that the series following and beyond is well worth the investment of time.  But surely the first series should also have such moments.

There are some great characters among the brilliant cast and I am somewhat looking forward to see where the story goes in series 2. The sets, costume and action are of a superb level of quality and if this was my book being adapted then I would be beyond proud.

Overall I liked series 1 and I give it 8 Joffrey’s out of 10

 

This isn’t actually Joffery but a rather good lookeylikey, for bonus points can you name who that actually is and what classic TV show she is from? Use the comments section!

Introductions Part 7 (Ok this is wearing thin now)

By the end of May 2013 I felt as if I was ready to send my manuscript out to potential agents and publishers. Having given the book a half-hearted edit. I drew together a list of 50+ contacts and fired off the emails.

In this time I had began to draft book 2!

I received very little response from anyone regarding my book, and the responses I did receive were blanket emails.

What was I doing wrong? After some research I changed my cover letter, put together a synopsis and tried again. By September of that year I had finished drafting Book 2 and decided to take a closer look at book 1.  I had received contact from a literary agent and editor who showed some level of interest but it didn’t feel right to me.

The winter of 2013 consisted of me restructuring Clark Thorn and the Warrior Project, I added 10,000 words and split the 12 chapters. The four hour sessions were back and I worked immensely hard to bring my book up to an immaculate standard.

The new edit was complete and again I would approach publishers and agents.

Again to no avail.

I went through the motions in terms of disappointment, anger and all the other negative stuff, wondering why nobody was interested. My perception of the literary industry was becoming apparent. A closed door society where everyone behind that door will fob off and cop out any way possible. Why not, they are doing this for a living they have to be that way.

(Introductions part 10) Rember a few episodes back, well here it is again. I sent off my manuscript for an appraisal and that’s where I am today!

July of 2014 I decided that I would pursue the route of self-publishing

What am I doing right now

Having recently received my manuscript assessment I went to work in implementing changes and put it in line with the issues pointed out. It took me less than 10 days (of mostly 4 hour’s an evening) to finish and now I am currently taking a break.

Decision Time

I would most like to leave the close of this series on some level of cliff hanger and that is what I will do, when I return for series two I will have an answer on whether or not Clark Thorn will be self-published.

Thank you all for reading Lee’s Hall of information, please share, follow, sign up and tell the world! Series Two will begin on Thursday the 25th of September!

 

lee face 4

 

 

 

Episode 4

It’s the fourth episode and I still have stuff to write about!

Introductions Part 10

Whoa I hear you say. What happened to the introductions between? Well I’m doing that clever thing like in TV or film when they flash forward into the future for a brief time. (I’m not actually sure if there will be 10 instalments of introductions but it sounds like a round figure to jump ahead to)

So in March of this year, I had reached frustration city in terms of sending my manuscript out to various agents and publishers seemingly to no avail. At this point I just wanted to know if or where I was going wrong, and if my book has what it takes to stand shoulder to shoulder with others.

After some googling I came across the oxford editors. They were offering a service that appraises a manuscript and involves a report at the end. Finally I have received most of that report (I wont go into the amount of chasing I had to do for it and quite honestly I wouldn’t do it again).

My whole angle was to actually have someone honestly look at my manuscript without it just being cast off into the many slush piles. It involved a fee and hopefully that would entice someone to be obligated to actually have a read.

The initial part of the report came through and here are the highlights in the form of quotations:

“I think the idea of this book is ingenious and it has a great deal of potential. However, the first few pages of any book are so important and here I think that you put all the points, but it is rather flat the way you have presented it, so it is like reading an article and not the sort of start that pulls readers into a book”

As much as this starts off complimentary I agree with the points.

“Probably the most important moment of the entire book, in terms of hooking readers, agents and publishers is that first sentence.”

Again I agree and my opening sentence could in fact be better.

To interpret the rest of the report it is apparent that the opening chapter does need some work in order to really grasp the reader. Not work as in rip it up and start again but a series of minor changes and additions to get the opening looking great. That goes for the whole book, there are some instances where I am telling the reader something when I should be showing them.

This is what I have been waiting for since March and now I have been given some decent constructive advice. From here the plan can be instigated. Phase 1 of the Warrior Project Publishing plan has been activated.

  1. Receive manuscript assessment      (I am more proud of the fact that I discovered there is a button to allow crossing words out, technology these days. I’ve been waiting to use that since I started this blog)

Back to the main plotline

Introductions Part 4 (where were we)

After much thinking I decided to start from the very beginning of my story. On my brothers laptop I began writing a title called ‘Untitled Warrior Project’. At this point it that was it in terms of a title and over many autumn evenings I pecked away, putting together the foundations for what would be my ‘first’ book. I had previously attempted to write a Clark Thorn story (a few years back on the xp piece of sh**) so from that initial idea I built the basics.

I struggled throughout this time, adapting to the horrible process that I still don’t like and that is the initial draft. (I do it in hour sessions now (controlling my addiction) To me drafting just feels like whatever thoughts one has is literally sucked out onto page, and that is what one element of what writing is to me. Translation of thought from brain to page.

My run in drafting this ‘warrior project’ ended just as quickly as it started leaving me with writers block at chapter 3.

To be continued….

 

A video

This week a good friend of mine Matt Streuli released a video in tribute to his late mother Janet Ann Streuli. As much as his journey and story is a sad one it also pays homage to the legacy left behind and how it helps him to this day. I share the same hobby with him, that being amateur drama, something I have grown to love and almost need in life. For a few hours a week we get to be what we want to be, whether that is the dashing hero or dastardly villain and perhaps anything in between. It’s a release and stress reliever at times. For whatever is going on in our lives there is always a place where we can be us or someone else. Check out his video here

 

A final note about a prestigious valuable item of memorabilia or sale on ebay, check it out, you wont be disappointed. Click here