So A Lonely Magic is the first book where I hired an editor. I paid the big bucks–$800–for an NYC editor with a lengthy list of noteworthy authors he’d worked with, recommended to me by another NYC editor, who I think was once executive editor of one of the name companies in fantasy publishing. (I think because I’m too lazy to look it up.)
I paid for a line edit and an editorial letter.
The good news is that I wasted my money. The bad news is that I wasted my money.
His feedback was… fine? It’s not that there was anything wrong with it, it just wasn’t anywhere near as far ahead of the average beta reader as it should have been.
An example: he thought it took too long to get answers about who and what Kaio and his family were. He said we were halfway through the book before anything was revealed. Okay, that’s appropriate feedback from a beta reader and good to know. But an editor surely should have noticed that I used a precise and classic three-act-structure. Thirty chapters to the book, 10 chapters in is when the story changes dramatically, at pretty much exactly one-third of the word count. Now an author, reading between the lines, can safely say in response to such beta reader feedback, okay the first third seemed slower, figure out how to pick up the pace. But an editor should have realized that, too! The issue is pacing, not that the first half–which isn’t a half–doesn’t give answers.
In the same line, he said that the problem was that Fen hadn’t asked questions. When I followed up on that, I got the single sentence reply back that the problem was that Luke, Kaio, and Gaelith hadn’t told her anything. Easy fix. Easy-peasy, three lines here or there will resolve it. But that’s not what he told me the issue was. An editor should be able to spotlight issues, not half-ass guess at them.
I won’t get into the rest. Fundamentally, though, I’d rate the edit as a mediocre beta read. My intern did a better one. Mike Kent (who writes as Morgan Kegan) did a much better one. So live and learn. It was a waste of time and a waste of money, but at least now I know not to waste that money anymore.
Next time around–next book around–I’d like to hire a copy-editor, so that I don’t have to be quite so anal about every single then vs than. But I won’t be hiring a line editor again.
Meanwhile, I’m still in final proof-reads. They’re going slowly, because I’m recording an audiobook at the same time. My own voice recorded is so weird to me. I hope at least one person, someday, appreciates this book, because I’m feeling very dubious about the value. But got to try someday, right?