The Bookish Fox

case studies

Case Studies

Jenny McCue

Trust the process, and in the end, you'll end up with your book!

1. What did you hire Sarah for?

I was in the market for an editor. I had interviewed a lot of editors, and while all were qualified, I went with Sarah because of the collaborative nature of her program. I knew I needed an editor, but I had no idea I needed a writing coach. Sarah made sure my words were clear, concise, and engaging, but she also gave me the tools to write and publish a book.

2. What was your book/writing process like before working with Sarah?

For published works I had only written academic articles, opinion pieces, and blog posts before starting to write my book. I thought the processes would be the same, but it turns out when it came to my book, my writing process was at its best like writing a series of journal entries and at its worst like free-style ramblings on a keyboard.

3. What was the book/writing process like after hiring Sarah?

I learned how to create a workable timeline and goals but allow for creativity. Also, I learned that writing a book is a process done in phases. I wrote in each phase to get me to when I could start submitting it to agents. That took time, and I had to learn that my first draft wasn’t going to be the final one. Sarah explained it to me in two simple lessons. Lesson 1: You cannot write a book if you don’t write down the words. Lesson 2: You will cut mostly all of the words and rewrite it. She taught me the process of how to discipline yourself to be creative and clear. Trust the process, and in the end, you’ll end up with your book!

Zara Quentin

I believe the manuscript was improved at both a macro and micro level

 1. What did you hire Sarah for?
 
I hired Sarah twice during the editing phase of the second book in the Airwoman series, Spirit Woman. At first, I worked with her on the developmental edits on the Spirit Woman manuscript. Later, I worked with her on the line edits for the same manuscript.
 
2. What was your book/writing process like before working with Sarah?
 
Before working with Sarah on the developmental edits, my Spirit Woman manuscript was at a fairly solid early draft level–that is, the story and general structure were there, but there were parts that dragged, parts that didn’t quite work, and parts that were repetitive. In addition, there were aspects of the main character’s journey and her relationships with two of the supporting characters that didn’t quite work and as such, didn’t come over to the reader in the way that I was intending. 
 
3. What was the book/writing process like after hiring Sarah?
 
Sarah gave me detailed feedback on the parts that needed work, and after I’d worked with her, I’d improved the pacing of the story significantly, cut out parts that lagged or didn’t contribute to the story, and transformed the relationship between my main and supporting characters so that it hit the mark I was aiming for. The story worked much better once I’d worked on the elements she suggested and provided an overall better reading experience at a story level. In addition, the writing improved as she was able to point out areas where I overused words, or where phrasing was confusing to readers. I believe the manuscript was improved at both a macro and micro level after working with Sarah as she had the ability to focus on the overall story level, as well as to word-smith at the sentence level.

Jennifer Gregson

My final draft/finished book is something I am so very proud of

1. What did you hire Sarah for?

I hired Sarah to edit my book. I used her for both a developmental edit and a final copyedit before self-publishing my young adult novel.

2. What was your book like before working with Sarah?

My draft had solid bones and good structure, but it definitely needed some work–especially with deepening my characters (some were very one-dimensional) and working on the subplot.

3. What was the book like after hiring Sarah?

My final draft/finished book is something I am so very proud of. The characters are fully developed with flaws and backstories of their own, and I have a solid subplot that helps support the main plot. Plus, the good bones/structure that was there has been molded into a fully developed and well-paced novel.

Nichole Sylvester

I am so glad I hired her

1. What did you hire Sarah for?

I hired Sarah for development and copy edits on my memoir.

2. What was your book like before working with Sarah?

When I hired Sarah my book was a mess. In fact, I worried I had to start over. Just weeks before starting with Sarah, I received my manuscript from my first editor and I was devastated by the quality of her work. I knew I couldn’t publish my story this way, so I decided to hire Sarah. (Thank God I did!)

3. What was the book like after hiring Sarah?

She guided me to carve the unnecessary parts, create flow for the reader, and maintain my message. I am so glad I hired her; I can’t recommend her quality and caring support enough.

Callie Brady

My Hero now had a decent story and I finally had an ending!

In 2017 I hired Sarah to help me edit my first paranormal romance. Six years ago, I began writing my novel, but I didn’t realize that romances have their own unique story structure to them, and they have to include scenes called beats that must be met in order to be considered a romance. For instance, a romance must have a memorable first meeting between the Hero and Heroine called the “Meet Cute,” a midpoint love scene, a break-up or separation beat, and of course, the story must end with a “Happily Ever After.” Also, in a romance there are two heroes, not one. And each one has to have a story arc. There are other required beats as well.

I’ve always loved romances, and even though instinct told me that novels should include these beats, I didn’t “see” the missing “ingredients” in my own work. Plus, I struggled writing from the hero’s point of view, and looking back now, I had a non-existent story arc for him. I wrote with nothing more than a drive to achieve my dream, instinct, and pantsing. Still, I managed to trudge through my manuscript until I approached the end. Then I stopped. I had nothing. I had no idea how to finish the story because I didn’t understand the journey the hero and heroine needed to go through in order to reach the end. I shelved the manuscript thinking my own journey for writing a romance was never going to end in a “Happily Ever After.”

In the years that followed, I refused to look at my shelved manuscript, but I researched the structure of romance novels. In 2016, I discovered Sarah through Jennifer Blanchard’s writing courses, and I hired her to help me edit my first non-fiction eBook: Vanquish the Demon of Self-Doubt: Give your Writing Wings. Working with Sarah was a great, positive experience. Sarah’s warm, easygoing personality, combined with her love of popular culture (we’ve had so many fun chats during our Skype calls discussing the classics of the 80’s, which in my opinion, have the best stories!). Later, I was excited to learn that Sarah was familiar with the structure of romances. I signed up to work with her for the second time, and clenching my teeth, I pulled out my original manuscript to re-write it. For three hours during our Novelty call, we discussed the problems with my original story (including creating the “laws” of my story world, and an appropriate story arc for my hero) and using romance structure, Sarah helped me outline a new story. My hero now had a decent story, and I finally had an ending! Shortly after our call, Sarah sent me her notes (hers were better than mine!) and for the first time, I could see my publishing journey end in a “Happily Ever After.” Thank you Sarah!

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