I cannot stress this more emphatically – if you are a writer looking to either self-publish or start sending your work out to agents or publishers, beg, borrow or steal (well, perhaps not steal) the money necessary to have your work edited.
As I write, I am into day 3 of the social media blitz promoting the launch of my second book for Bloodhound Books, Degrees of Darkness. The reviews so far have been astonishing. One that will stick with me forever mentioned me in the same sentence as both Stephen King and Thomas Harris. But other comments have also delighted me. A number of people have mentioned how they checked their doors and windows at night after reading the book, and some have said how much they would like to read more of the main character, Frank Rogers. And it’s always nice to know that readers have enjoyed your writing, plotting, and characters.
One comment that tickled me so much was when a reviewer said how much they were affected by the ‘milk incident’. Now, you’d have to read the book to know what that meant, but the observation thrilled me because it brought back some wonderful memories.
I recall the editor I was using, Doug Watts at JBWB, telling me how excited he was by that scene, because he’d never read anything so commonplace and mundane becoming something so terrifying.
Thinking of that made me think about him. We never met, but we exchanged countless mails. Doug was a terrific bloke who was about as blunt as a person can be. He saw something in my work that excited him, and it was his enthusiasm that compelled me to start believing in myself more. He was convinced I had that certain something, and that one day we would see my work published. Degrees of Darkness has undergone a number of changes since, but the bare bones of the book owe a tremendous debt to Doug’s insight, knowledge, experience, support and constant encouragement. It may have taken longer than either of us realised at the time, but it’s out there, Doug – it’s out there, my friend.
Having an editor for that and Bad to the Bone made me understand my weaknesses, helped me with pacing and structure, and whilst my English was pretty good, there were also some good lessons in grammar along the way. The main thing was that Doug read the book in a way that was impossible for me to read – for the first time. Having that fresh set of eyes read, comment upon and provide feedback to me regarding the good, the bad and the ugly, was simply priceless.