Thursday, 7 February 2013

First 300 words

When I asked for suggestions for editorial services the other day, Frances came up with the name of one that I had heard of so I thought I'd look into them. However - and this is probably something to do with my age - by the time I got to looking them up I'd changed them to a completely different agency that I have also heard of. By that time it was too late though because I had already sent a 300 word sample to Jacqui Bennett, not Hilary Johnson as Frances had suggested. It's an easy mistake to make - not.
Anyway I am getting to the crux of the post. I have heard back from Doug who was the poor bloke unlucky enough to get my sample and after the explanation of what his marks and squiggles meant, and saying that it was almost "flawless" grammatically (should be considering I've only gone over it a million times) this is what he said:

"It’s not clear to me at this stage whether this is fiction or non-fiction, but whichever it is, you’ve set up the framework of your story extremely well, with a tremendous amount of mystery and panicky apprehension accompanying the narrator’s sudden blindness. Strangely, there’s almost a breathless excitement in the air as his or her anxiety creases. This sort of writing, early on, has the potential to involve your readers, and so they are more likely to keep turning the pages."

So I should be pleased, you think? No I am sceptical. I mean I know (as do you all because I've told you often enough) that I love BTL but here's someone else telling me that the first 300 words at least aren't bad and I can't help thinking - really?
So now I'm thinking is Doug telling the truth and maybe there is potential in my book (there is massive potential in my head but this is the real world) or is he just saying that because he wants me to buy the full service?
I will just clarify though that I in no way mean to impugn Doug's professional integrity, it is just me returning to type i.e. a cynic. 


Paula R C Readman said...

My first question is 'How Much?' & what do you get for your money. I had my first book critiqued by who gave me a 35 page report on how to improve my book.

At the end of the day the choice is down to you. Debz is the editor on 'Crime after Crime'

Colette McCormick said...

It's about £295 I think (off the top of my head) and for that you get line by line editing. So, corrections of spelling and grammar, suggestions on characters and situations etc etc. He did point out a couple of things in his annotations that I had realised I was doing. I think I am being cynical, in fact I know I am. They have been going for ages and I used to refer to their databases a lot when I first started writing for markets and other things. I think I just expected the verdict to be harsher and because he said something nice I'm looking to qualify it. Thanks for the heads up on the service you used Paula - it sounds very thorough.

Colette McCormick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frances Garrood said...

I think you may be right to be cynical. After a bit of praise, I would always expect a "however...". It's good that he says he liked it, but obviously he wants you to come back. How much did he charge for the 300 words?

Also, do you really want a line by line critique at this stage? I think I'd send it to another agency - just a few words - and see if the comments tally.

But it's sounding good so far!

Colette McCormick said...

The 300 word critique was free and yes I was expecting an "however."

Anonymous said...

I have little experience with professional editors, but it sounds to me like they are merely fishing for business at this stage. Not necessarily anything sinister, but a free 300 word critique is probably worth about what you paid for it.

Colette McCormick said...

That's what I'm thinking Captain. I mean I think that the idea is that you can get a "feel" for the sort of service that is provided which appears to be comprehensive.