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So I finished my very first novel and decided that I want to get an editor for the manuscript. I found someone offering their services online through a trusted platform and contacted them but now I'm unable to evaluate the work they have done. Sometimes I wonder if I was robbed of my money and sometimes I feel like I'm just not satisfied with my own work that is why I expected the editor to make more changes but the problem is this editor refuses to give me an opinion whatsoever and sticks with the grammatical corrections. So I really need a second opinion from someone who has more experience...

I have attached an example of an edited page, the changes are the bold words:

A few days later, Sir Brianna came back , and Evanora found herself happy to see her. The two walked around the castle, Brianna heard about the incident , and she tried to reassure Evanora that the king would never allow anything like that to happen again and that she would personally escort her if she wants to go out again. Evanora thanked her but refused to leave the castle.

Brianna then went on about her adventures in the neighboring kingdom while Evanora listened with blazing eyes. She could imagine Sir Brianna walking around in forests and fighting off thieves as the knight explained in detail and moved her hands as she spoke to add a dramatic impact. Evanora missed the enchanted forest and the fresh morning air at dusk. She missed her old life , but a part of her was also begging to go on new adventures like Brianna.

Over the time that Brianna spent in the kingdom , the two became very close and met frequently. Sir Theon was starting to open up to her , too , and he would sometimes join them for tea or a walk. He seemed more relaxed and smiled more now that Brianna was back. Evanora watched the way he stared at his friend when she talked and laughed. She even teased them about their relationship playfully a few times.

Her time was spent either with Brianna or researching and practicing in the library. Before she knew it, she had already spent a little over a month in the Kassi kingdom. King Rokan was away visiting the neighboring kingdom of Larth . She heard they were planning a new peace treaty. The Larth kingdom was the nearest kingdom and their main trade partner . Having the enchanted forest and the hills on one side of the Kassi kingdom and the Lotus river on the other, it was hard to establish trade with other kingdoms since the routes were more difficult to use. Rokan was trying to keep good relations with their closest neighbors and was willing to travel there himself to make sure of it.

Evanora , on the other hand , wanted to let him know that she had made good progress. She was already deciding where to go to look for wounded animals to test her new healing powers. She was now completely able to transform her energy into a healing light that wraps around wounds and mends it. She had already tested it on herself. She had picked her finger with a needle over and over again till it went numb and then tried to stop the bleeding . She even cut the palm of her hand when no one was around and tried healing it too. She smiled , remembering her success. Feeling a bit at ease with her progress, she decided to go and take a walk in the garden.

It was already autumn, and the weather kept getting colder with each passing day , yet the garden kept its charm. Evanora walked down the narrow path made of shining rocks, surrounded by overlapping trees and branches. She was surprised when she realized how big the garden was . She kept wandering around and felt like she was inside a maze. Trees covered most of the sky , and leaves covered the ground.

As I re-read this I realize there are parts I would have edited feel like there was more the editor could have done. I sent an entire manuscript of over 50 000 words and the edits are basicaly the same as this one on the rest of the pages; ponctuations edits and few grammatical ones. They asked for only 4 days which makes me even more skeptic of the quality.

I thought I knew what to expect and even did some research but the outcome of this experience is kind of disappointing.

The service description: Grammar, punctuation, Capitalization, spelling & more Cohesion and coherence Syntax Sentence structure, fragments and lengths Consistency in formatting, tense and voice Improving word choice while maintaining your unique voice

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    There are different types of editors. You may unfortunately have chosen the wrong type, depending on what you were actually expecting.
    – user54131
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 14:33
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    I actually tried researching and thought that a copyeditor is what I needed (instead of a proofreader or a developing editor ) but now that I read @Amadeus 's answer I realized that I wasn't looking for an editor in the first place...
    – Malek
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 20:08

2 Answers 2

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What in the world? What editor would leave spaces before punctuation? You don't put spaces before commas, periods, etc, that's insane.

That said, I think you expect too much from this kind of technical editor; they aren't story consultants. They are not going to rewrite your story, or your sentences. They are just going to fix the technical problems with your writing.

In fact, you can get about 90% of this kind of technical editing with Grammarly,their simplest version is free. (I have no financial interest in Grammarly).

The closest their offer comes is "improving word choice", but that is typically only done when you are using words incorrectly; as if you don't understand the definition. Even then, a technical editor will be cautious about injecting any original creativity into your story; they don't want to change your "voice". At best, they might leave a note like "cliché", or "repetitive", or if they are attentive enough "inconsistent with claims on page 123." Maybe "wrong character?" if you wrote "Jack said" instead of "Mike said".

But creativity is your job. They are not going to rewrite pages, delete scenes or dialogue, make things more concise.

Forget this technical stuff, use Grammarly

Editing is not a critique, which is what it sounds like you are seeking. It is only there to fix mistakes. If you want to go on for pages talking about some character's feelings, the technical editor won't stop you or comment.

You need a story critic, somebody to help you with structure, tell you when passages are boring, too long, too short, unconvincing, hyperbolic, etc. Somebody that can tell you to cut whole scenes, or condense them from twenty pages to two.

You need somebody that can be kindly brutal and tell it like it is from a professional's viewpoint. I'd suggest looking for former Agents. They know how to analyze and judge books for commercial value, the average agent rejects 95% of the book queries they get, because they are unpublishable.

That sounds brutal, but it is what you need. Professionals that can explain to you why your story is unsellable. What is wrong with your opening, or your characters, or your love story, or your action scenes, or your prose in describing visual scenes, or emotional scenes.

And be prepared for bad news, they probably won't like your initial efforts AT ALL; for novices a rejection rate of 99% is expected. But the bad news is good news in disguise, they won't just dismiss you without explanation like an agent, they will tell you the truth and exactly WHY your story is crap. Don't you want to know that?

Because it is expensive, you might look for consultants that will work in chunks; 50 pages or something in the opening. Often what you need to fix that is also what you need to fix the rest of the story; we all tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly.

Those are the people that can guide and teach you to make your story salable. Not technical editors. Use Grammarly to get "good enough" on technicalities; and spend your money on actual story consultants that are NOT promising any technical services.

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    Thank you for the feedback, yeah I think what I actually wanted was a story consultant and not an editor but I wasnt really able to define what I needed so I chose wrong. Lesson learned, thanks again!
    – Malek
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 20:06
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    I agree with what Amadeus has said. Add ProWriting Aid, Language Tool and Hemingway to free online checkers. You could also join Scribophile to get critiques of your writing. Commented May 25, 2022 at 18:44
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Congratulations, you've finished the first draft. That probably makes you a one-percenter... in a good way.

As you've noticed, there are many different types of editing. Here are my favorite articles on the differences:

As the first link mentions, editors do disagree about almost everything, including what constitutes a copy edit, line edit, and proofreading.

My advice is to send in a sample few pages, 5-10, or the first chapter or something like that. In some cases, you could get them edited for free, or at least it won't cost as much as paying for the whole manuscript.

Once you have the resulting edit, you can then determine if you want that editor to edit your whole manuscript in the same way.

As far as I've understood, most authors say they want a "copy edit" but what they usually need is a "line edit". A professional editor should ask questions about what you want and expect in order to detect that discrepancy.

You don't say if you've edited the text on your own before you sent it to the editor or if your text is the first draft.

In my experience all first drafts can, and probably should be improved upon. That's not about your text or your ability or anything like that. Professional writers can spend ten times as much time and effort editing their text than writing the first draft. If you're just moderately talented that effort should translate into a way better text than the first draft.

While you don't have to be an Editor yourself to write good books, being able to self-edit your books is probably crucial... unless you're an intolerable genius that writes flawless first drafts. (Hands down, none of us likely are!)

My book tip for self-editing is James Scott Bells' "Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells".

By doing self-edits, you'll save money by getting feedback on the best you can produce and avoid the editor getting stuck on details a self-edit would get rid of easily.

Good luck with your book project! You've taken the first steps on a fantastic journey...

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