Fool’s Gold?


There’s a particular advert in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook – a book that I’ve been making good use of recently – that I can’t seem to keep from seeing, because the book rather annoyingly falls open on that page. It’s for a company who offer editing services to writers, and it uses the analogy of gold mining. I’m not sure what annoys me about it most, the smug arrogance with which they assert that manuscripts are ‘low value material’ (good way to start – by insulting your potential clients) from which they can ‘extract precious potential’, or the obvious inappropriateness of the analogy.

I did some research (being a writer) and discovered that even in the most productive mines, around three tons of ore will yield only one ounce of gold. So, doing the conversion of ounces into tons, to get one ounce of gold you would need at least 100,000 ounces of ore. The  typical length of a manuscript is around 100,000 words. So, applying the analogy, that means that the ‘low grade material’ of your manuscript would, in the hands of the aforementioned editors, yield just one word.

If you are going to pay good money to have your precious (and hopefully not low grade) manuscript edited, you need to make sure you get someone who’s going to make a good job of it. I can’t help wondering whether a company who fail to grasp such a basic literary concept as analogy would fit the bill.

There seem to be a lot of companies who offer editing services. As in any other discipline, I’m sure some are better than others. I’m fortunate to have a partner who is a very good editor, which saved me from having to play ‘editor roulette’.

The reason I’ve been so intimate with the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook of late is that my second novel is finished, and has been proof-read and edited. My last novel elicited some interest, but ultimately, none of the agents and publishers who saw the full manuscript felt strongly enough about it to take me on. I received some good feedback though, and I’m sure that this novel is a significant improvement. I’m proud of it. I think I (we) have done a good job. I’ve very carefully prepared a synopsis and covering letter that I hope will appeal, and I’m going through the process of selecting agents and publishers to submit these and my sample chapters to.

Wish me luck!

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About literarylad

Graham Wright is an author whose first novel, Single Point Perspective, is set in and around the city of Manchester, where he lived and worked for more than fifteen years. It's a dramatic piece of literary fiction that is easy to read, imaginative, serious and thoughtful, but with a sense of humour. Graham now lives in South Wales, and is busy writing his second novel.
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