As a full-time teacher, Elana McDougall initially started writing Hidden Magic as a fun distraction from putting together report cards. Before she knew it, she had written a whole book. Faced with the choice of filing away her manuscript under “Done,” and publishing, she picked the latter.
Finding a non-judgemental editor
When I decided to self-publish Hidden Magic, my main goal was to elicit the same excitement I experienced writing the book from my readers. I wanted them to fall in love with the secret village full of quarrelsome mages and pine for the main characters’ romantic relationship.
Thanks to the full creative control that comes with self-publishing, I felt assured I'd be able to tell the story I wanted. That being said, as an indie author, the entire publishing process falls to you — and while I knew I needed a great editor to help bring my story to life, I didn't know where to look.
After doing a lot of research on self-publishing, I decided to work with Kobo and their author services recommended Reedsy — and I’m so glad they did! Before Reedsy, I had worked with a different editor, and the process had been stressful, to be honest. But this publishing platform had everything I needed to hire the right editor with confidence: reputable professionals with in-depth biographies and a plethora of author reviews. I ended up choosing Sara Kelly, based on how considerate she came across towards authors.
My Reedsy editor gave me direct insight into the mindset of readers
The great thing about working with Sara is that she approached my manuscript not only with the detailed insight of an experienced editor, but also with the added bonus of a paranormal romance reader. In other words, she was part of my target market.
During our collaboration, I’d work on three chapters at a time and then send them to her for edits. Writing is a solitary hobby but with this arrangement I came to think of Sara as the audience I was writing for. My previous editor (with the best intentions) had cut out stuff that didn’t work for them, but Sara was never too-quick-to-cut or judgemental. She’d make comments, such as “Is this how the character would react?” or “As a reader, I have a question here.”
This isn’t to say that she was casual. Using a consistent point of view throughout the novel was a real stickler for me. Sara corrected my inconsistencies, and also took the time to write out an explanation of the different POVs for me, using examples from my book. She really tidied up the story, from fleshing out nuances and working on point-of-view, to double-checking spellings and consistency. Sara didn’t just polish my manuscript, she made it shine.
Publishing the escapist story I set out to tell
Hidden Magic has turned out to be exactly the kind of escapist, love conquers all story, I set out to tell. I’ve received a great review from Merissa Shephard on Discovery, saying: “Loved it! Magic, mystery, and a whole lot of loving in this hidden town of Hallows!” Particularly now, when people want a quick escape from everything going on in the world, I think the book delivers. And although I might have written the story by myself, I created the book with a team.
Currently I’m working on the sequel, Scorched Earth Magic, and I’m hoping to be able to get Sara to also edit this one. Editing is about more than spelling and grammar, and when you find someone like Sara Kelly, who both questions what you’ve written but also respects you as a writer, you hold on to that!