Writing a novel is hard. Getting said novel published is even harder. Authors need to do everything they can to polish and perfect their story until it leaps off the page. Of course, you can pay for a professional critique, but it's also possible to learn how to edit your own novel.
That's where the 6-week online Self-Edit Your Novel course comes in. Emma Darwin and I designed the course for The Writers' Workshop and wrote the tutorials together, though I now do all the detailed feedback, with Emma coming in at the end of the week with an invaluable round-up of the topic.
But does the course make a real difference, in practical ways? Can it increase your chances? Is there any way of proving that it does?
This should convince you: the self-edit course in numbers.
The first course was in April 2011, 5 years ago, and it runs 4 times a year.
So far, we have had 19 courses and a total of 215 participants.
I recently asked on Facebook and the Word Cloud how many of our alumni now have books 'out there'. The answer was 24 - and they're only the ones I know about. Most of these come from our early courses, the authors having had the time to edit their drafts and go through the next steps towards being published. I'm sure there are many more in the pipeline and probably several I've missed.
So how does that figure compare to the industry average?
A top agent will receive about 2,000 submissions a year, of whom they will sign maybe 2 authors - a hit rate of .01%.
The hit rate for our alumni is 24 out of 215 = 11.16%. (See below for updated figures.) Some of these have self-published but I know from the signed books on my shelf that they are as professionally presented, and as well-written, as the trade published novels they sit next to.
In case you don't believe me, here's our Self-Editing alumni roll of honour, with links to their Amazon pages and other sites when the novels are forthcoming. Oh, and we've sneaked a poetry collection in there too, though I'm not sure how much credit we can take for that.
In no particular order, hearty congrats to:
G D Harper
Claire Evans (forthcoming Spring 2017)
Chrissie Bradshaw (forthcoming Summer 2016)
Isabel Rogers (poetry collection forthcoming October 2016)
Sally Miller (forthcoming Autumn 2016, writing as Sara Bailey)
If you know of anyone I've missed, please shout in the comments and I'll add them to the list.
Edited to add Susie Campbell. Updated figure 25 out of 215 = 11.62%
Edited to add Barb Ettridge. Updated figure 26 out of 215 = 12.09%
Edited to add E S Rollett. Updated figure 27 out of 215 = 12.56%
Edited to add Sophie Cayeux & Laxmi Hariharan. Updated figure 29 out of 215 = 13.49%
Edited to add Marjorie Lazoro. Updated figure 30 out of 215 = 13.95%
Edited to add Sophie Wellstood. Updated figure 31 out of 215 = 14.42%
Edited to add Vicky Newham. Updated figure 32 out of 215 = 14.88%
Edited to add Mandy Berriman. Updated figure 33 out of 215 = 15.35%
Edited to add Maddie Please. Updated figure 34 out of 215 = 15.81%
To see details of forthcoming courses, click HERE.
As at April 2017, I'm currently running the 23rd course, and we have 263 alumni. The above percentages refer to people who had taken the course at the time of the original post.