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Is it worth paying for a structural edit
5

Violet19 · 12/03/2021 14:43

Hello. I'm coming to the end of a third draft of a novel I've been working on for a while. I've shared parts of it with a writing group, but I think I'd like some professional advice before I even think about querying agents. Has anyone used a literary consulting service? I'm thinking of something like a structural edit. There are so many who offer this: Goldust, Jericho, Lit Consultancy, The Book Edit and others and it's hard to know how to choose. Has anyone had a good experience? Did you get constructive advice on how to improve a draft and/or when to bin it and start something new? It's a lot of money to part with and so I want to be sure it's worth it. Thank you.

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Zilla1 · 12/03/2021 17:30

If the agents in which you are interested only want the first 3 chapters/3000 words then could you polish that part and submit to a handful and see what they say? If agents see merit in the concept/key idea and how you approach the first three chapters then they'll give you feedback and they and the publisher will be midwives to your progeny. Your structural edit might move you further from what might attract your ideal agent. To be fair, a structural edit could tip the balance towards engaging an agent's interest but it might be an idea to hold back until you submit to a few if you are uncertain about the costs.

It's an uncertain process, this becoming a best-selling author.

Good luck.

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Spodge · 12/03/2021 17:55

I've used Jericho a couple of times and have heard stories from others who have used Jericho and other services.

Jericho does try very hard to match you with the right editor for you and this is important. However you need to have a clear idea of what you want out of it or you'll get a load of generic advice as well as a few nuggets of useful stuff. However, if you know that you are concerned about particular aspects and make that clear in your brief then the editor will know what to focus on. It won't stop them making other relevant points.

They will never tell you to bin it and start something new. Not in so many words, at any rate.

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Violet19 · 12/03/2021 20:07

Hi @zilla1 thank you, yes that's good advice. I was thinking that feedback would help me work out where to focus my attention in subsequent drafts. But I probably haven't factored in how subjective any feedback would be.

However, I don't feel ready to send to agents yet as I know the manuscript needs a few more rounds of structural and then copy edits. However, some of the agencies offer the option to get feedback on the opening 15,000 words. So that may be a better option.

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Violet19 · 12/03/2021 20:17

Hi @spodge (great name) thank you for the pointers on Jericho. It's good to hear they try and find the right editor for each manuscript. And thank you for the advice on highlighting the things I'm most concerned about.

And yes, I was being a bit flippant with the 'bin it' comment. I guess I meant it would be good to get feedback on how far any issues relate to the story itself, and/or how far they relate to the way it's executed. Although, I supposed it's difficult to separate the two, especially if you've only been writing for a few years.

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Neap · 14/03/2021 23:11

I had a free editorial read from the Lit Consultancy for being shortlisted for a competition years ago. It was a careful, thoughtful, detailed report, but I’m not sure how I would have felt if I’d paid for it (it would have cost several hundred pounds) because it’s not a structural edit, it’s someone pointing out what doesn’t work in your draft. Ultimately, the report said (quite rightly) that my structure was too complex for my plot (two narrators, lots of back and forth in time), but was less forthcoming with ideas about how to fix it. Ultimately I rewrote the whole book from scratch. Literally not a single word of that version exists in the one I queried agents with (successfully).

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