Friday, May 25, 2012

Editors – Who needs them?

Guest Post courtesy of Author Pete Abela:

With the advent of Ebooks, publishing a novel is easier than it’s ever been. There is the small task of writing the novel, but once that’s done you simply need to slap on a cover and upload it to Amazon or an equivalent site. The traditional role of an editor is seemingly no longer required. Or is it?
There is a Japanese proverb that says, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”

I certainly found this to be the case when I wrote my novel, Wings. It took more than a year to write, although this included a period of nine months when it sat in the drawer, untouched and almost forgotten. When it was finished, I sent it to a publisher and prepared to wait.

I didn’t have to wait long.

“We like it,” replied the publisher within a week. “But it’s not of publishable standard yet. You can pitch it to other publishers if you like, but our recommendation would be to obtain a reader’s report.”

I took their advice and requested a reader’s report, which is a manuscript assessment by an accomplished editor. After six weeks, the report came back. It contained general comments about areas of weakness, as well as a specific example of where the weakness could be found in my manuscript. It was up to me to understand the comment and example and work out how to apply the feedback to the remainder of the manuscript.

The two major weaknesses were a lack of revelation of the character’s emotional response to major events and a scarcity of description about setting. They did observe that my natural writing style was lean and uncluttered, so they cautioned me against going too far with my descriptions and emotional responses. There were also some mechanical issues such as an over-reliance on “ly” adverbs and a passive writing style through the use of words such as “had”, “was” and “am”.

The reader’s report was an excellent initiative and assisted me to make the leap from “gifted amateur” to “polished professional.” The suggestions rang true and the fact that they used examples of my own writing to point out the areas for improvement helped me to grasp their suggestion and apply it to the rest of the novel. The fact that a publisher expressed interest in my work provided more than enough incentive for me to continue the process of refinement.

It took me a couple of months to rework the manuscript in accordance with the feedback. Within ten days of submitting Wings to Really Blue Books, I had an offer to publish. This was not the end of the editing process. My fantastic editor at Really Blue Books went through Wings line by line, identifying inconsistencies and weaknesses, and making numerous suggestions for improvements. None of the changes by themselves were large, but when put together, they have combined to make Wings immeasurably better than my first (and second) attempt.

In summary, professional editing help can be of great assistance in raising the standard of your novel and making it attractive to publishers. Despite the fact that Wings had been written to a high standard, the advice and feedback I have received from my editors has enabled me to raise the bar significantly. The Japanese proverb has proven true. The insights I have gained from my editors have been worth more than a thousand days diligent labour on my part, and I can now apply the learnings to my future novels. However, even with the learnings I have attained, I’ll still be looking for an editor when I’m ready to release my next book!

About Pete
Pete is a left-brained computer scientist whose love of reading propelled him to take up writing. Having surprised himself and those around him by getting Wings published, he is now revelling in the fun of dreaming up marketing and publicity stunts – tasks he never could have envisaged doing ten years ago. He continues to stretch the boundaries of his right hemisphere with his writing and is now working to complete a second novel.

His left brain hasn’t been totally neglected through this process. Pete still works as an IT Manager in order to help keep his wife and four kids fed and clothed. When he’s not working, reading, writing or enjoying the company of his family, Pete likes to sneak away for a bit of exercise – either tennis, soccer or a laborious run. Pete lives on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

You can find more about Pete at his website and blog. The blog contains a number of really bad jokes. You have been warned.

Twitter: @PeteAbela



Pete's new book, Wings, is now available!


"Wings" tells the story of Walt and his grandson Scott, who both have a fierce longing to fly albeit in vastly different circumstances. Walt - who grew up in the depression - found out first hand that becoming a pilot takes sacrifice and tenacity. When World War II broke out he pestered the RAF for eighteen months before they finally accepted him. Scott spent his childhood listening to tales of his Grandfather's aerial exploits and developed an intense craving to be a pilot. However, the number of people wanting to be a pilot vastly outweighs the limited opportunities on offer.
“Wings" weaves together two tales: one set in war-torn northern England, and the other set in the modern-day Illawarra region of New South Wales. As Scott progresses, his grandfather declines – Walt loses his wife, his sight and his hearing – but throughout these difficulties is still there to offer support and encouragement. With insights into the modern aviation scene and life in the Royal Air Force of World War II, this is a must for anyone who has an interest in history, aviation or simply an old fashioned love story.
You can purchase “Wings” directly from the publisher ( or from Amazon (
My Review of Wings:
4 *'s!

I enjoyed this touching story of a grandfather and grandson, both lives intertwined through a passion they both shared: Their love of flying. Pete Abela's potrayal of Walt's life during the depression and the aviation history of the Royal Air Force during World War II was well thought out and cleanly written, as was the more modern era of Scott's story. Author Pete Abela has a very crisp and clean writing style that is consistently shown throughout the book. If you enjoy history and aviation, this is a good book to pick up!

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