Thursday, May 19, 2016

Self-edit course roll of honour

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 Jericho Writers (previously 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, and it runs 4 times a year.

As at April 2016, we have had 19 courses and a total of 215 participants. (See updated figures below at the bottom of the post.)

I recently asked around on social networks to see how many of our alumni now have books 'out there'. 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 45 out of 215 = 20.93%. (I will be editing this figure as new deals are announced.) 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 one particular course, back in March 2013, 6 out of 11 participants are now published, or about to be.

In case you don't believe me, here's our Self-Editing alumni Hall of Fame, with links to their Amazon pages and other sites in cases where the novels are forthcoming.

In no particular order, hearty congrats to:

Cathy Bramley
Clare Flynn
Jody Klaire
Katherine Hetzel
G D Harper
Louise Walters
Susan Murray
Jules Ironside
Claire Evans
Sonja Price
Amanda Saint
Jackie Buxton
Claire Waller
Matt Willis
Mari Griffith
Chrissie Bradshaw
Sandra Davies
Kat Mountfort
Bernie Steadman
Isabel Rogers
Shauna Bickley
Sally Miller (writing as Sara Bailey)
Voula Grand
Aneeta Sundararaj
Susie Campbell
Barb Ettridge
E S Rollett
Sophie Cayeux
Laxmi Hariharan
Marjorie Lazoro
Sophie Wellstood
Vicky Newham 
Mandy Berriman
Maddie Please
Sophie Jonas-Hill 
Fiona Erskine
Britta Jensen
Ruth Heald 
Moushmi Biswas 
Alice Spigelman
Clare Wade 
F J Campbell
May Woodward
Angela King 
Philippa East 

A few of the published novels from our self-edit alumni

If you know of anyone I've missed, please shout in the comments and I'll add them to the list.

People who have attended more recent courses:
Emma Robinson
T C Shelley

To see details of forthcoming courses, click HERE.
As at October 2018, we have 332 alumni. The above percentages refer to people who had taken the course at the time of the original post. 


Sandra Davies said...

Just remembered Susie Campbell - she has a chapbook entitled 'The Bitters'

Debi said...

Ah! I'll edit the post. Thanks!

Dr Purva Pius said...
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Maddie Please said...

Thankyou for the mention Debi. I would recommend the SE course to any aspiring writer. It does the trick.xx

Julian said...

Could you say the number of these people who did your course who have actually secured representation by a literary agent? It really isn't helpful to include self published authors and it misrepresents your success rate when comparing it with the tiny proportion who secure representation without doing your course. Lots of people self publish without doing your course so would need to be included in the other figure for the comparison to be fair. I am thinking of doing your course so this is important info for me.

Debi said...

Hi Julian. Thanks for the comment. You've raised a fair point. It's true that years ago, self-publishing was synonymous with shoddy and amateur-ish but that's no longer the case. In fact, many authors decide from the outset that they intend to self-publish and they approach this with the same professionalism that applies to trade publishing, ensuring their novels are properly edited and polished to the same standard as any other novels 'out there'.

Nevertheless, it's true that there are no gatekeepers as such with self-publishing. But that's also true for some small, indie publishers who accept all submissions, as well as those who share costs with their authors, providing a sort of bridge between trade and self-publishing. It's all a lot more complicated than it used to be, when there were just a few massive publishing houses, accessible only through agents.

However, the only self-published people I included in my list are the ones where I know that their novels have been written, edited and presented to the same standard as trade published novels. That's the reason I provided links to each of them: most to Amazon, some to agents' or publishers' websites or to articles eg in The Bookseller.

I hope that's answered your question but do please feel free to comment further. The feedback from our alumni has been overwhelmingly positive. We'd love to have you join us on the course.

Sean Ashcroft said...

You reasonably point out that a number of your alumni had no intention of doing anything other than self-publishing, yet surely there are many whose sole aim is / was to find an agent.

I would be interested to know how many alumni who have sought agency representation have succeeded in this.

Debi said...

Thanks for the comment, Sean. That's why I provided the links to each of them so that people can check the publisher. At a quick glance, I can confirm that the majority are trade published. In fact, I've only just heard today of another of our alumni who has just been offered a 3-book deal. I'll be adding their name to the list once all has been confirmed.

Sean Ashcroft said...

Great. Thanks for the clarification, Debbi. Very impressive.

Debi said...

You're very welcome. We're hugely proud of our alumni.

Dr olivia Alexander said...
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