Reviewing: Editing services provided by Simply Spellbound Edits
Editor: Heather Hudec
Length of submission: Approx 8K words
Genre of submission: Thriller
Title of submission: I will find them (by Rose Rayne Rivers)
Overall impression: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Good afternoon lovelies! I’m sorry I’ve ghosted you the last couple of weeks, but I’m back. So get ready for me to drop some editing knowledge today… Not mine (obviously😀). Today I’m giving you my two cents on Simply Spellbound Edits.
Why did I use Simply Spellbound?
I found Heather/Simply Spellbound on Instagram when she offered free copyediting services for the first 10K words (or full short story) in return for honest reviews as a way to build her editor profile.
First of all, props to her! It’s super brave to put your skills out there like that and take the chance it won’t work out. I’m sure on more than one occasion, the ‘review’ didn’t come through, because in my experience, sometimes people don’t take the time. In my opinion, that’s marketing like a boss--so, well done there!
Anyway, like probably everyone, I was skeptical of ‘free’ services, and I honestly haven’t had many good experiences with someone offering something in exchange for a review. This industry is hard enough, so if I don’t feel like I can offer a good review, it’s really hard for me to write something negative. But something about Spellbound’s page called to me and I figured, why not give it a go, because truthfully, what could it hurt, right?
Well, I’m happy to report–it didn’t hurt. In fact, it was amazing!
More detail about why I gave a five-star review:
I’m not one who generally gives out five-star reviews unless they’re truly earned. In fact, historically, I’m hard to please (just ask my husband 😉).
Despite my picky nature, if I don’t like a good/service I’ve paid for--unless the product was really expensive or my dislike was of something egregious--I usually just choose not to write a review. My momma taught me the “If you don’t have something nice to say…” philosophy. Actually, with how crazy my life is, it’s not often I write a good or bad review because I just don’t have the time.
Of course, this situation is slightly different, but it’s not the first time I’ve had an opportunity to write a review. In fact, I’ve discussed my opinions on negative reviewing in a couple of my past blog posts. In the few experiences I’ve had with trades like this, I’ve given the person the option to have me post my less-than-stellar review or nothing at all. But trust me, I will only ever give honest reviews. Even if it ends up not being what the person wanted. Negative reviews go against my people-pleasing nature, but also, I don’t want people wasting their money on goods/services that aren’t worth it. So trust me when I say, if the services weren’t worth it, I’d be letting you know (or just not saying anything).
But thankfully I can honestly say, Heather really earned this review!
While we all know I’m not an expert on much, I do know good service, and that’s exactly what Heather provided. Before anything, she asked for clearly outlined expectations from me. She also outlined her qualifications, gave me a rundown on what services she would provide (plus how I should expect to see them), and she gave me a clear deadline for when I could expect edits back. She also checked in along the way giving delightfully positive feedback and kept me in the loop on where she was in the process.
Truthfully, I didn’t check out Heather’s website (www.simplyspellboundedits.com) until after I’d already sent her my work (I know... Bad writer), but if you’re thinking of using her, you should really go check it out. There are other reviews as well as a rundown on what her qualifications are. One of the things I really liked was that the cost for her services is clearly defined, as well as what each service entails. I love it when people let you know upfront, with no surprise or double-speak, what you're getting and how much it costs.
The copy editing services she provided, would have cost $0.03 per word if I were paying (About $240). And honestly, I would have been happy if I’d paid it– which isn’t always the case when getting ‘free’ trials. I’m a toddler writer (that's just a little bigger than a baby writer for those of you who don't know), so having people like Heather who are willing to put their services out there so we can both grow together is one of the brightest parts of this business.
I wasn’t initially aware that she specializes in fantasy (because I didn’t read her website), but when we were going over her services via DM she did let me know that my Thriller short story would be her first in the genre. I actually found that quite appropriate, because it was my first (well technically second) attempt at a thriller as well.
So here’s the low-down on what I sent her.
I recently entered a story into a short story contest. As a true pantser, the story started out all sweet and cute, and then took a sharp right turn and tried to become a whole a$$ novel!
The genre was thriller, and after it was done I got several rounds of feedback from other writers that proved my story was well received. (Side note, to avoid entering a novel in a short story contest, I did have to leave it on a cliffhanger, which happened to be nail-biting AF!).
Anyway, I decided to allow my story to continue its journey and I plan to enter the second part (which is told from a different POV but a continuation) in a different contest later this month. So I sent her the first short story (Approx 2K words) so that she would have the background along with the new story (Approx 8K words) to edit. I told her that reading the first part was not necessary (part two stands on its own), but explained that I felt like it would give her a fuller picture. My expectation was that she provided feedback/editing on the second part (the 8K words) only. (side note: To my pleasant surprise, she provided it on both! Thankfully, the first part didn’t have too many grammatical concerns because I already edited it furiously, but she did show me the few things she caught and gave me positive helpful feedback (which will help if this story continues on and becomes the book it wants to be)).
So what did she outline as expectations from her end?
She told me she would offer copyediting which includes grammar, spelling, and punctuation (Basically, small picture things, not developmental help). She also promised to leave overall impressions and some reactions along the way. She promised 2 complete read-throughs. The first is reading just like a reader–for the story. She said she would leave comments about her own reactions, and feelings while reading. The second readthrough would be for more thorough grammar, punctuation, and any major plot holes.
What did I get out of it?
Ok, true talk, she did everything she said–AND more! Maybe I shouldn’t say this (because I don’t want to set an unattainable expectation for her to maintain) but her editing services went above and beyond!
My story was pretty well edited for plot holes and character development which is why I used her copyediting services (Another side note: if you’re new to writing, you should learn the difference because as I’ve learned not all ‘editing’ is created equal–but more on that another day). That means, she didn’t have to leave any comments on my characters, plot, or story flow, but she did all three.
She sent me a professional "Style Sheet" that outlined the voice/style of my story and included all the details she noted about my writing style, all my characters, and the plot. It also identified repetitive grammar mistakes, punctuation problems, and a reference to where her knowledge came from so that I didn’t just have to trust that it was her opinion.
The details she outlined about my characters let me see how some of them were less developed than others, and she identified words/phrases that may be tricky or hard for people to latch onto, or may draw people out of the story. She also outlined things that were stylistic choices (like italicized words, OK-vs-Okay, spelling out numbers, etc). These things would ultimately be reader/writer-based preferences, but it’s important that as you’re writing, you remain consistent throughout, and Heather helped identify the couple of places my story wasn’t.
Her comprehensive edits included over 280 comments and suggestions and they were almost all tiny things I probably wouldn't have caught on my own (sadly, it’s not my gift). Her comments ranged from “‘add a comma’, ‘change to semi-colon’, ‘capitalize this’, or ‘misspelled word’” all the way to “‘This is funny,’ ‘did you mean this word or this word,’ ‘I think this would be stronger like this’, ‘Oh, I’m terrified', or ‘I love this description.’”
I am well aware that small grammar mistakes (like misplaced commas/semi-colons) are a problem of mine. Heather made sure to not only point them out but also explained why they were incorrect (or grey areas for stylistic choices). And hopefully, one day I'll work them out, but until then, it's important I have someone checking on them for me because their's nothing worse than someone using the wrong they're when it should be there (Haha! Get it? Editing humor).
Anyway, the point is writers, Google/Word doesn’t catch every mistake–although it’s a mystery to me why–so having trained eyes on small details is going to make your work really shine. And Heather’s eyes are trained. In fact, I’m certain she’s unconsciously editing this blog post as she reads it!
Ok, so what does it all boil down to?
USE SIMPLY SPELLBOUND!
I know I’ll go to Heather again–as long as she wants to keep expanding her horizon beyond fantasy (because try as I might, it’s not really my thing).
I also know she has a long, illustrious career in freelance editing on the horizon if she keeps it up. So if you’re looking for a good editor, I suggest jumping on Heather-at Simply Spellbound Edits-now before she becomes a hot commodity and you can’t afford her (or she’s booked a year in advance)!
I know this one was a little long, but if you made it this far, thanks for reading! Have a great week my lovelies!
-Rose Rayne Rivers