The Writing Manual: Getting Professional Help

In 2007, my wife and I decided to set up a company that would provide book editing to self-published writers. My wife was already a published novelist, creative writer lecturer and experienced editor, whilst I’d edited on a freelance basis for a number of years. It all made sense, Caroline was excited about the idea of helping new writers but for me it was a deeper mission. 

I knew that my ideas were solid. I’d already tried them out on my own work and also edited friend’s manuscripts. The feedback was consistent and writers were very happy with the insights I was offering. However, I knew I could do more. When BubbleCow first opened its doors I had a framework but if I was to be able to reach the writers I wanted I knew I needed to create a system.

I recently calculated that I’ve edited more than 500 books since I first started BubbleCow. One huge advantage of editing so many manuscripts is that you start to see trends. It is not long before you can create a list of common mistakes. The thing that really stood out to me in the early days of BubbleCow was that most writers tend to be on the right track. It is true that they are of differing standards, but most of the work we see tends to be in a good shape. However, when I talk to writers it is often the case that they don’t know what they don’t know. It is not the case that writers are doing things wrong, it is that they don’t know what to do in the first place. Writers will often tell when they should be showing, or they will dump too much back-story or they will leave characters undeveloped. Yet when you go back to them after the edit it is almost always the case that they didn’t know they should be writing in a certain way or that they lacked the confidence to listen to that little niggling voice in their minds that was pushing them in the right direction. 

The system I ended up creating consists of two key elements - editor’s report and line editing.

Teaching writers is perhaps too harsh a phase, instead what I set out to do was provide feedback that gave the reader a wide editorial framework. I wanted to create feedback that not only showed the reader what was wrong, it explained why it was wrong and, in the long run, made them better writers. I wanted to create a system that could, theoretically, put us out of business. The solution came in the form of an editor’s report as well as embedded comments.  

One breakthrough that occurred in the early days of BubbleCow was the realisation that other companies were doing it wrong. Competitor editors tended to read manuscripts and then provide vague feedback. I knew we needed something more substantial. We needed to provide developmental feedback and line editing. These were not two separate services, they were intricately linked and needed to be provided as standard. In the end, I developed a system that used a detailed editor’s report to provide the development feedback and line editing via comments on the manuscript. The report is the key to the whole process. This can often expand to be twenty or thirty pages in length. It sets out to show the reader where the problems lie, but them give detailed theoretical explanations as to why the problem exists, and then, at least one possible solution. This is our secret source. Once the report is int place, the line editing becomes the detailed support that will allow the writer to see the mistakes and even the solutions we suggest. It is so much more than fixing the occasional grammar mistake. 

Get Your Book Edited

If you feel that you need professional developmental book editing, then BubbleCow might be the right choice for you. Our feedback is designed to give you everything you need to lift your book to the next level. As well as the feedback, you’ll get support from the editor (and probably myself). This gives you access to our years of knowledge about the publishing industry. If you are having a problem, whether it is writing or publishing related, we have already been through and found a solution. You can benefit from this experience. 

To discover more about BubbleCow and what we offer, visit: