I self edited the first fifty pages and have sent them to be critiqued by a professional editor.
A side note on that:
I've decided that paying to have my work edited by someone who does it for a living is my best bet if I want to take this seriously. Friends are great-- smart even :) but there are two problems that can arise from having friends or family edit your work...well three actually.
- A friend or family member may end up being too nice in an effort not to hurt your feelings. This, of course, completely defeats the purpose of the critique. Nothing is ever perfect.
- A friend or family member might take their sweet time. LOL...this may be the most painful thing about choosing the fam/friend option. They're not getting paid. They're doing you a favor. Therefore all you can do....is wait.
- And of course the last thing is that friends and family usually aren't professionals. They may bring up issues that might seem irrelevant in the grand scheme of things (like 'cars don't have fans' and 'I'm confused, one minute they were in the car and the next they were in the hotel lobby'--long story). If your editor is not an avid reader (if they watch a lot of TV instead) you might be in for a very painful edit, and not in a good way.
Not to say that these so called 'irrelevant' issues are ones you shouldn't pay attention to (every critic deserves to be heard) its just that when you are looking for a hard edit, one that is crucial to the success of your work, a professional will break down the 'real' problems with your novel, like voice, tense, tone, plot, character depth...etc.
So, yes, I've decided to pay for editorial services. I figure it will pay off in the long run and ensure I'm on the right track. When it comes to sending my work to the 'agent of my dreams' I can feel confident that I won't look like a fool and foil my chances of obtaining solid representation after the first try.
But here's the kicker. When I first started writing this novel a little voice kept telling me that it wasn't long enough, not descriptive enough and maybe didn't have enough characters. So I compensated.
Now, I want to KICK myself! My final word count at the end of the second draft was 132, 000 (+). For some reason I had in my mind that YA novels should be between 70-120,00 words.
Well....I was wrong. I did my research (after the fact, which was a big mistake!) and realized that the actual appropriate word count for YA fantasy is roughly (and I say roughly because it can vary) between 40, 000 and 70, 000 words.
So, needless to say, this self-edit is going to be very, very painful!
Right now, after removing many beloved scenes and even a few characters, I am at 105, 000 (only 35, 000 more to go!).
I'll keep you updated :)