Following that commercial line edit, and after reading a mountain of how-to-write books, I took a year to complete a number of further edits and rewrites of my first book. The first chapter changed at least 300 times, and I rewrote the ending maybe 20 times.
There are a number of reputable literary consultancies in the UK, who provide genuine editorial services for aspiring writers. I decided to try one of these.
This time, the edit was completed by someone who concentrated on the plot. He didn’t like it. The villain was too villainous, the main characters’ perils were too infrequent and not perilous enough, and the ending made no sense. Worst of all, the plot did not follow Hollywood’s classical three-act structure. He recommended that I read The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.
I bought a copy of Vogler’s book. Sure enough, I could see that my book was climaxing in all the wrong places. The problem was that I had tied the plot into the progress of the Crusade, and I wanted it to be historically accurate. I set about another rewrite with Vogler’s three-act structure uppermost in my mind.
At this stage I sent out a few more queries. Having no positive responses, I returned to Book 2 – another historical novel, set in Berlin during WWII. I completed Book 2 and Book 3 (a crime thriller) before returning to My First Book.
The very first editor had suggested that the book might be good for the Young Adult market, so I rewrote it for the Young Adult market. This meant removing explicit sexual content (maybe two paragraphs), rewriting the ending and the first three chapters (again) and reducing the length of the book from 90,000 to 70,000 words.
I decided to send it out for another professional edit at this stage. (Yes, I know, but I was worried about stepping into YA territory. I needed some reassurance that my book wasn’t going to cause some serious adolescent unrest.)
This editor spotted one large plot hole that arose when I shortened the text. She said that the villain was entirely believable. She seemed happy with the ending. There was no comment about the accuracy of historical detail, which I took as a positive indicator.
So there you have it. I’ve been working on this book – on and off – for 15 years. I’ve spent about EUR 2,000 on editing services, and the book remains unpublished and unrepresented.
Perhaps it’s time to self-publish it as an ebook.
Either that or forget about it.