So I got my Editorial Evaluation back …

I don’t want to be sued for copyright infringement, so here is my photograph of turtles. Enjoy.

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.

Final notes!

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!

Categories: iUniverse, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

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52 thoughts on “So I got my Editorial Evaluation back …

  1. That sounds like an overall awesome evaluation! congrats! Pretty exciting stuff. 🙂 I can’t wait to be able to read it!

  2. Candace Knoebel

    I ran into the same problem with length. I ended up cutting close to 30k when all was said and done. It only made the story that much stronger.

    I also felt the editing process wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be-even with having to go back and make the noted corrections. It was a fun learning experience and it made me feel more confident in my work.

    You’re one step closer!

  3. As one who has been through the iUniverse Editorial Evaluation process for three novels (including a Developmental Edit the last time), I can vouch for the thoroughness of the process. The editors were particularly astute in pointing out ways to use a more active voice (as in showing, not telling). They also found occasional logical inconsistencies in the plots, which they couldn’t have done without reading the books carefully.

    • Thanks for the insight! My biggest worry is that I’ll invest a lot of money and not get the value back in editing, but you make it sound like they really know what they’re doing. Good to know 🙂

  4. Glad to hear you got a lot of positive feedback. I’m American and I’ve had a hard time writing for an American market. I can’t wait to read your story.

    • Thanks 😀 It’s tricky, being Canadian and writing for Americans. It’s the little things you don’t really think about that get you, like changing metres for yards, university for college, etc. Did you know you guys even have different punctuation rules? Why can’t we all just write the same way!!! lol

  5. Before you pay for iUniverse to do the edits, please read this interview with another iUniverse author:

    • Thank you for the link 🙂

      • You’re welcome. It’s just a LOT of money, and I think based on feedback I’ve heard you might have a much easier time looking for a freelance editor. At any rate, congrats on the accomplishments thus far!

        • I’m definitely keeping my options open at this point 🙂 And thanks! Soon I’ll be able to tell people that I’m a writer, and have an actual, physical book to back it up.

    • Ouch! They don’t have a good reputation, do they?

      • No, Andrew. They really don’t. It’s discouraging, because the services they claim to provide are needed. They just don’t seem to have a handle on following through with their promises. They’re a little overzealous with sales, and then they lose their motivation to deliver.

  6. Thanks for checking out my blog (; it prompted me to read yours. I look forward to following your journey as a book author as I am hopefully on a similar path. Great post!

  7. Michelle – I would tread cautiously around an editing company that confuses ‘were’ with ‘where’.
    i.e. ‘There are places were cuts would improve the plot of this book.’

    I may be wrong – it may only be a typo.

    iUniverse offers so much flattering praise (I am absolutely NOT trying to detract from your skills and writing style) that simply reads (to my suspicious mind) as ‘buttering up’.

    Please do not read this as criticism or any attempt to bring you down. Just please, please be careful with iUniverse. I wish you well in every aspect of your endeavours and hope that you have nothing but good experiences.

    • Oh don’t worry, I’m very suspicious of their motives too. I get the feeling that copy-editing is going to cost a lot more than what I’ll get out of it. But I’ll worry about that more once I’m done shortening the novel. Thanks for the concern 🙂

      • It just ‘felt’ that they were offering chunks of pre-prepared prose to encourange you to stick with them for nafarious reasons.

        Again, just my personal opinion, but my Spider-sense was buzzing…

  8. Love the picture and can honestly say it’s a good way to describe the whole process of how long it takes the publishing process…only I have one of those turtles and when I take him out of his tank and set him on the ground he’s off like a rocket…lol. As far as grammar and punctuation mistakes…*my fingers tap like an evil minion as I think this* I love when I’m reading a well known Author and I catch a grammar or punctuation mistake. It just goes to show that no-one is perfect. With that being said…I wish you the best of luck and will keep my eyes open for your book when it comes out!

    • Yeah, catching a mistake in a bestseller is always fun — especially because then you get to think, “They should hire me to proofread their books! Clearly they aren’t doing it right.” Lol, and I love that you describe yourself as an “evil minion”. Have you not yet reached “evil overlord” status?

      • I figure I’ll have earned that title once I’m published 🙂 and it is a good possibility that my kids call me that behind my back….Either way – minion to overlord is a good promotion..hehehe

  9. thanks. ı love you

  10. Well, congratulations. There is always work to be done when it comes to writing and publishing. This is true no matter how good you are, nor how good you claim to be.

    You may want to reconsider your slice before you begin editing. Above, you stated that you were going to need to cut 21,307 words in order to be within range of being edited. If you’ve currently got a total count of 121,307 words, and these statements ring true: “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.” Then, you may want to consider cutting your current nearly in half, unless you’re able to setup some kind of agreement with the publishing house.

    Writing is not all about editing. Editing is all about editing. In order to make writing better, one (or more) must edit.

    Though many of us use the same language, rules for writing are taught differently, and even when they’re correctly taught, learners may not follow the rules to the letter. This is why we can’t all write the same way, as well as why there are many writers who still think it’s correct to begin a sentence with a conjunction.

  11. Well, I’m super happy someone has alerted you to the sketchiness of iUniverse. I believe they’re actually owned by the even less popular Author Solutions.

    Still, congrats on getting your book ready for her debut. Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who links to musical numbers in their blog.

    And Oxford comma all the way baby! If you’ve not read it, Eats, Shoot and Leaves is a great book about grammar. It might not fix your idiosyncrasies when it comes to US vs. Canadian grammar, but it will give you a better overview on the subject, and it’s interesting.

    • I haven’t read Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but I listened to about half of the audio book on a car trip one summer. It was hysterical. And yes, I know iUniverse is sketchy, lol, but I’m pretty much locked in with them for this book. I’ll just have to make the best of it 🙂

      • I liked it a lot. She definitely has a sense of humor.

        It might be cheaper to hire an independent editor and then resubmit. I left some information about assessing copy editors on another post. I’m trying to catch up with everything I missed today.

  12. HGfan1016

    congrats on your reveiw. i can’t believe books have to be under a certain length. call me naive or whatever, but i guess i just thought they could be as long as you wanted.

    • Well technically they can, if you self-publish, but then if you want people to actually buy the books, they need to be an acceptable length. Most YA readers are looking for a fun, romantic, quick-ish read, so anything over 100,000 words is a bit long.

  13. This is so awesome! Sorry I haven’t seen this until now. Work has been quite busy. 🙂 I’m very happy for you! It’s a shame that your evaluation doesn’t take Canadian dialect into consideration. But I supposed if you’re writing for an American audience, maybe that’s not as relevant? :-/ Anyway, good luck with your word pruning!

  14. Hi Michelle. Great job! I’m curious to know if other than the one area of details about the fantasy world, did the reviewer suggest places he/she thought wouldn’t hurt your story line if they were cut/shorten?

    • Other than the “exposition” scenes, no, the reviewer didn’t mention anything. Although I’ve found that what’s working really well so far is just re-wording sentences to make them shorter and more concise. The “reviewer” really just gave an overview of the manuscript, she didn’t give specific instructions for how to shorten it 🙂

      • I’m glad you found a plan of attack. 🙂 Would you have preferred a few suggestions or are you happy the reviewer didn’t plant any ideas in your mind?

        • Erm … probably some suggestions would have been helpful. I mean, it’s not like I have to *change* the story, just cut out some chunks that aren’t necessary. So if the reviewer read the book and had thoughts about which pieces to chop, that would have been good to know.

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  16. brokeartist

    Looking forward to reading it! Sounds exciting. Congrats.

  17. Elizabeth Krall

    I wonder if such usage as ‘god’ and ‘alright’ and ‘metres’ would truly put off readers? Surely if the story and the writing have caught their attention, they are unlikely to find such words a barrier; it’s not as if you have suddenly segued into a foreign language with no translations.

    • I didn’t think it was that big a deal either! But apparently it is, lol. I guess I do get annoyed when I find typos, but these aren’t exactly typos, are they? They’re more like … different-spelling-os.

  18. Yannis Vatis

    Congratulations! It sounds like you are on to something. I had never heard of iUniverse until now. I’ll check them out when the time finally comes – procrastination is a real female dog.

    I’m so glad I’m meeting people who are also on the same journey as I. Writing is a powerful art and we need to keep it alive.

  19. Awesome that you shared your editing critique experience! I’m on my final round with my editor, and it took about 3 turns of handing the MS back and forth even after ~3 years of polishing. It’s a tough work out, but it’s worth it. Word count was my issue too. I cut about 30k words, so you can definitely do it! I’m at 114k right now, but for me that’s just fine since I’ll be self-publishing (at least until I find a small publisher that might be willing to do the hard copies). Tightening is always worth it.

  20. Just to throw this out there – I’m actually starting to do some freelance editing. I don’t have an English degree, just a good eye from the editing I’ve done already – my own projects and for others.
    Shoot me an email.

    Best of luck.

  21. karengadient

    45k-75k words, eh? Don’t feel bad… my last novel was 147,000 and I’m going to need a flamethrower to edit it. One I’m working on now is set to be 78,000 and I’m hoping it won’t need much trimming.

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    • Who is “Net”? Is that short for Annette? And while I agree that pizza is delicious and is often laden with fat and calories, I’m not sure that having the persistence of cooling of the pizza stone is going to help me. I’m not sure stones are even all that persistent.

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