With Croatian as her first language and English as her second, by the time J.D. Bass finished writing her debut novel, she had a multilingual manuscript on her hands. After translating the entire thing to English on her own, J.D. knew her book needed professional editing to ensure the language and story were polished. For that, she turned to Reedsy.

Publishing a book in my second language was a challenge

When I decided to take the first step in publishing Tale of the Winter Lands, I knew my manuscript needed intense edits. Although I am a fluent speaker, English isn’t my first language and a significant part of the manuscript was self-translated. Following my friends’ advice, I turned to some of the well-known self-publishing services, but, unfortunately, didn’t have a great experience.

Looking for alternatives, I found Reedsy, a well-reviewed platform and goldmine of self-publishing advice. I was amazed with the sheer volume of information available in one place, and a perfectly timed newsletter from Reedsy helped me make an informed decision as to which type of editing I needed.

Equipped with my new-found knowledge of what it takes to launch a book, I scoured the marketplace for an editor who could address and resolve any kind of developmental or language issues my book might have.

Working with two editors to polish my manuscript

After creating a long list of potential editors, I decided to hire Hugh Barker based on his fantastic sample edit of my work. I went into the collaboration eager for Hugh’s expertise to guide me and he did not disappoint. In fact, his hybrid developmental-line-edit exceeded my expectations and completely blew me away. Not only did he find a huge issue in my timeline, he also took the time to teach me specific writing techniques and to make sure I understood the reason behind each suggestion. He showed a deep understanding for my story and I was 100% confident in applying all of his edits.

When it comes to fiction, I look for strong ideas and good characters — generally books that have a lot of life. If something is bursting with life but is a bit unruly, it is a nice challenge to take a slightly wild garden and prune it into something more refined. For an editor, that's a much nicer task than trying to inject life into a book that doesn't have it in the first place. In Jelena’s case, The Tale of the Winter Lands appealed to me because of its deeply imaginative fantasy world.

The strong points of the story were the narrative and the characters. Since English isn’t Jelena’s first language, the sentence structure needed some work, but I also had some ideas on how to improve the pacing and overall logic of the story. So I offered what is essentially a book report. This involved a line by line edit, with suggested changes and comments where I felt she needed to address an issue. 


The finished book report was a marked up document along with a separate set of notes giving overall structural and development thoughts — the aim being to present Jelena the best version of her book.


— Hugh Barker, Editor

Having resolved my book’s major issues with Hugh, I still needed someone to finetune my grammar and word choice. In other words, a copy editor. This is when Beth Dorward came into the picture. She went above and beyond to make sure my writing was easy to understand, pointing out areas that could potentially be cut, as well as any issues with technical information in the story. She really pushed me as a writer, encouraging me to rethink passages until they were perfect, and challenging me to overcome any self-imposed limits. 

I'm now confident in my self-translated novel

Hiring a professional editor not only improves the story flow of your book.  It also challenges you to hone your craft in a way you never thought you were capable of. While Hugh explained the major issues in my story with great care, Beth taught me a lot through the very detailed questions she asked. They were there for me when I needed them, without judging or patronizing me and, honestly, they are the reason my book is now published. My collaborations with Reedsy professionals were a fantastic success, and I will turn to Reedsy again in the future.


Buy Tale of the Winter Lands here and hire Hugh Barker to edit your book here.

This book was made with help from Hugh Barker

Professional editor on Reedsy

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