Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Teresa Kennedy of The Editorial Department said about "Emily's House"



I just got feedback today from the freelance editor I hired, Teresa Kennedy of The Editorial Department.  Teresa and TED were good to their word and delivered the whole book review I hired them to do within the four weeks they promised it.
Being a typical hyper-self-critical writer of a first novel, I worried that Teresa would tell me to pack it in and forget about it.  I was nervous over the weekend knowing that Teresa's review was coming.  I have so much invested.  What if she said it just sucked?!
Well, the good news is Teresa didn't tell me to pack it in.  In fact, she had some very nice and positive things to say.  Here's some of the good news:

Teresa said:  "It's a rich and imaginative effort that combines a wealth of interesting tradition in a classic young adult quest . . ."
Other good news:  "[T]he novel has a great deal going for it in terms of originality, readability and a lot of stylistic appeal . . ."
Teresa gave me high marks for my dialogue and she enjoyed the characters.  Teresa said, "the speakers really came alive during the exchanges of dialogue and I particularly appreciated the great dynamic between such unlikely pairings as Macha and Dughall.  There are some great scenes there, and indeed your ear for the way these characters interact contributes a lot to the sheer readability of the book."
One question I had in my mind was whether I was descriptive enough or at times overly descriptive.  Teresa says:  "There's a nice flow to the prose, Emily's first-person narrative voice is strong and well established, and it's clear to me that you have considerable descriptive power, that's neither overwritten or too spare to really be interesting."

Now for the bad news:  Teresa's evaluation confirmed what I have feared - I need to substantially re-work the first third of the novel.  As she said, "it's time for some housekeeping to clean up, throw out and cut away those elements that are getting in the way of your story, in order to really make it shine."
I've procrastinated the housekeeping long enough - time to dig in!
If you're a writer, I want to share with you my impressions of this editing process so far.  First, I recommend TED.  They have been prompt, professional and very nice to work with.  Second, I think Teresa Kennedy knows her business and she too was prompt and efficient in her work.

Would I do a Whole Book Review for my next novel?  Probably not.  I think it was necessary for me on this, my first novel, to have an editor do a whole book critique.  I needed the input of a seasoned professional.  But the vast majority of what Teresa told me I already knew!  I just needed confirmation from someone else.  But I won't spend the money again to have someone give me confirmation of what I already know.  Next time I'll just do it!

I'll probably be going back to Teresa in the coming months for some follow-up help as I rework Emily's House.  With my next novel, I'll probably skip this first editing step and work with Teresa or someone else at TED on more of a consultation basis.

Have you hired a freelance editor?  If so, what was your experience?

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