The big news in my little part of the cosmos is that I got my Editorial Evaluation back! To remind you, I’m self-publishing through iUniverse, and the first step of the publication process is they have an editor go through the book and do an evaluation. At the end of the evaluation they give you recommended edits to make–which basically means they tell you which of their editing services they want you to buy. But we’ll tackle that topic in another post. So, without further ado …
What the Evaluation said!
I actually got the email about my evaluation being complete right before I was about to head out to Stratford to go see Pirates of Penzance. The play was pretty good — I love the Tarantara soldiers. Since I really wanted to read the evaluation, I printed it out and brought it along for the ride. I shall now give you a summary of what I read.
So what they basically do is break down the evaluation into several categories. Then in each category they have a checklist, where the answer can be either “Yes” (as in, yes, you rock, this is good), or “Needs Work” (which is fairly self-evident). The first category deals with the marketing text (correct genre, is the work suitable for the target audience, etc.). I passed that one with flying colours. Next up: title. Apparently my title is appropriate for my book, so huzzah, I guess.
Now for the Opening. My first page grabs the reader’s attention — probably a good thing for a book to do. I began to notice at this point that aside from the checklist, the “evaluation” mostly consisted of the editor copying chunks of the book into the evaluation document and basically providing a summary of the plot. Which is fine. At least it shows they read the book, so they do have some idea of what they’re talking about.
I ran into trouble at the “Basic Premise and Tone” section. The plot and everything is fine — what tripped up the editor is the word count. The editor starts off saying:
“The author has wonderful writing skills and a vivid imagination … Relationships are fully developed. In fact, some of the humorous banter reminds one of the relationship between Princess Leia and Han Solo from Star Wars.”
COPYRIGHT NOTE: All quotes from the Editorial Evaluation in this post belong to iUniverse. Please don’t sue me. I’m harmless.
Woo! I love compliments. Especially when Star Wars references are involved. Kudos to my editor for being awesome. But remember how I mentioned the word count being an issue? Here’s the editor’s thoughts on that:
“Regarding the language level — at 121,307 words, this novel is too long. Especially in this tight economy (and even before it), traditional publishing houses normally do not take on books longer than 100,000 words, because of the cost of publication. In fact, most publishers of YA novels suggest that they should be around 45k-75k words long. It’s always best to adhere to required word length parameters. Not doing so is enough to prompt rejection from traditional publishing houses.
Besides that, practically every novel can benefit from pruning and tightening. There are places were cuts would improve the plot of this book. One place is where explanations of details about the fantasy world slow down the pace of scenes. Every little cut an author can make will tighten the plot and allow her to develop the most important characters and plot points.”
Phew! So basically, my book is too long. I’d suspected this was the case, but I guess it took the Editorial Evaluation to really drive that home. I’m sure my shortening woes will deserve a blog post of their own, so we’ll move on for now.
Next up was “Structure, Plot and Pace.” I got another “Needs Work” on “Does each incident or action propel the reader forward or provide needed but succinct background information?”. This ties into the word count thing. Once I cut unnecessary scenes, this should no longer be a problem.
Dum-de-dum, flipping through my pages … here we go! Here’s some random quotes:
“The last one-fourth of the book contains a rousing, all-out space war. Battles and clever one-liners are fun to read.
An Epilogue ends on a note of humor, with a hint of a sequel to come.”
Yup. So basically, I need to make it shorter. Le sigh.
Moving on to “Setting” — everything fine there. Characterization also received thumbs ups across the board, as did Dialogue. Now we’re really moving along! Then we hit … Basic Punctuation and Grammar.
Yes, you guessed it. I scored a “Needs Work” here. Noooooooes! Considering that I had approximately 15 well-educated individuals read over the manuscript before I submitted it, I’d really hoped I’d get a good score here. The errors they found actually weren’t that bad. I spell “all right” incorrectly (I spell it “alright”, which is sometimes correct, but definitely not for an American market). I didn’t capitalize “God” (for shame!). And there was a discrepancy in quotation punctuation that is entirely because I’m Canadian and didn’t know that Americans punctuate differently. Oh, and they didn’t like some of my commas. So yeah, that happened.
This post is getting long. I’ll try to type faster (that’s how you make posts shorter, right?). So at the end they give “General Comments about the Manuscript”, which is basically a reiteration of what was already said. Since quotes are fun, here’s a quote:
“This author has remarkable writing skills and a unique vision. She has also wisely accepted the help of a large group of helpers/editors (listed in the Acknowledgements at the end of the book). That makes this book a well-conceived, professionally-written, and enjoyable read.
The only weakness is the excessive length, but I feel the author has the skills to successfully do some cutting that would tighten the narrative and bring it into accepted word length parameters. Then the book will be absolutely awesome!
The author says her dream of becoming a published author has come true. I predict she can go far in her writing career, and I wish her all success in her future writing.”
As you can imagine, I’m pretty pleased with this evaluation. It sucks that I’ll have to do more editing (six years of editing and counting!), but I really do want this book to be the best it can. As my mother says, “This book is your introduction to the world. So you want it to be amazing.” I certainly do, mother, I certainly do.
And now for the “Editorial Rx Referral”
This is the part where they tell you what edits you have to do if you want to be in the “Editor’s Choice” program. More about this in a later post. But basically, this is a rewards program that gets you extra benefits, a nice “Editor’s Choice” logo on your book, and other assorted things from iUniverse. It absolutely does not translate into book sales, although it definitely doesn’t hurt potential sales.
The editor says:
“First the author is encouraged to do some pruning and tightening of the material. Then a Copyedit is recommended to fix errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Optional: A Developmental Edit would help the author cut and tighten.”
What this basically means is that if I want to be in their Editor’s Choice program, I need to get my book copyedited. I don’t have to do it through iUniverse, but if I get it done somewhere else, I have to pay a $249 resubmission fee, and then if it doesn’t pass the evaluation, I’ll be right back where I started (and considerably poorer).
iUniverse copyediting costs $0.022 per word. For a 100,000 word book, that works out to about $2,000. That’s a lot of money. At the same time, there are evidently punctuation/grammar errors I am making that I didn’t even know about. Because I’m a Canadian trying to write for an American market, there’s the added complication of our different grammar/spelling rules. And they also look at things like internal consistency, cross-checking facts, bringing the book up to standardized style guidelines, etc.
So what now?
Now I cut down the book by 21,307 words. Once I’m done that, I seriously consider whether or not I want to get a Copyedit done. Again, more on that in a later post. But if you have any opinions on any of this right now, please comment and let me know!
On a more musical note …
No Doubt has released a new song! Maybe they did this months ago, I don’t know, but I just found out about it now, so here you go!