I’m currently working with an editor on the first book in my Ambeth series, Oak and Mist, getting it ready for publication. It’s the first book I’m going to publish so I want it to be as strong as possible, which is why I’ve chosen to invest in a professional edit. And I’m so pleased with the result – her suggestions are spot on and she’s also picking up on the extra spaces and commas and quotation marks throughout my work.


No. There is no but. This edit is just what I needed. The editor has also given me a page of editorial notes about the structure of the story and, well, I’ve had to suck it up and agree. Because she’s absolutely right about the points she makes, and has actually cleared up a few niggling issues I hadn’t been able to resolve.


It’s just how you feel, as a writer, when someone critiques your work. Your automatic response to someone not agreeing with everything you’ve written is ‘But….’ Said in sort of a whiny tone. (I think the great Stephen King touches on this in his book, On Writing). Because your book is so personal, so precious, it’s hard to take at first when it feels like someone just doesn’t get it.


I’ve thought about it and the changes she’s suggesting will make for an even better story, an even stronger book. She does get it. And that’s why you work with an editor – to get a fresh, professional viewpoint of your work, from someone who does it for a living.

And you can’t ask for more than that.

13 thoughts on “But…

  1. So glad the professional edit is proving a positive experience for you. And the “but” thing? I like to think of each one toughening up your skin that little bit further. Not beautiful maybe but oh so practical!

    • Thanks Louise – yes, it’s been well worth it and a good exercise in toughening up! It’s helped me to be objective and the changes I need to make are really minor – just extra details added to existing scenes to make them work better, so the overall integrity of the story remains intact.

    • Hi Barbara – I found my editor through the Society of Editors and Proofreaders website – they have a comprehensive listing of editors and their genres. I’m going to write a more detailed post about the process, hopefully tomorrow and I’ll put the link in 🙂

  2. Heh heh…my biggest struggle as a writer is the edit! I’m so excited and in awe of your accomplishments to date…it will be amazing…can’t wait to see your book!!!!

  3. I know what you mean about hearing a critique of your work. You almost have to step outside of yourself and listen dispassionately, as if the work was someone else’s. And it all depends on if they ‘get’ your work. If they haven’t, their suggestions are just what they think, or what they would have written, and that won’t help the book. Good luck!

    • Thanks Louise. That’s exactly it – after I did my whiny ‘Buuut…’ (to myself), I then had to think about it objectively and saw that her suggestions made so much sense. I feel very lucky that she ‘got’ the book in that way.

  4. Reblogged this on Everything Indie and commented:
    Your first book is going to determine how readers view you as an author. You may think that readers will overlook those little errors because the plot is so riveting, or your characters are so compelling. (As a reader, I can assure you that this is not the case.) You may even believe that you are the best person to edit your own work, or that professional editors charge too much or don’t do enough to make your work shine.

    Stop making excuses, do your research, and find an editor who will challenge you and be unafraid to critique your work honestly. It may hurt to have your work criticised, but look at your editor’s suggestions objectively once that feeling of having been punched in the gut has passed. Ultimately, you are the one who will most benefit from this process.

    Thanks to Helen Jones, author of Oak and Mist, for sharing her experience with a professional editor so honestly.

      • I also included a link to your guest blog on “Writers & Artists.” I think it’s important for first-time authors to realise that their first work will determine the success of their future as a writer, and that a professional proofreader is a necessary and worthwhile investment in that future. Thanks for your words of wisdom!

  5. Pingback: Birthday | Journey To Ambeth

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