Natalie Barelli’s publishing journey started with a conversation about her bucket list. And now, not only has she knocked a major item off that list by self-publishing her debut thriller, Until I Met Her, she’s also been signed by Amazon Publishing’s imprint Thomas & Mercer. Natalie’s story is about the important role that hiring professional editors played in helping her realize a literary dream.

This is Natalie’s story

My friend and I got together over a glass of wine — or four, let’s be honest — and were complaining about how quickly we add items to our bucket lists, without ever getting around to ticking much off them. It was that evening we decided to pick one item each and get on with it. Mine was to write a book. More specifically, to write a psychological suspense novel — my favourite kind.

“Help! I need an editor”

You don’t want to hear about my struggles writing the first draft — it’s something all authors have to deal with (or fall victim to). What’s more interesting is what happened after I hit ‘save’ on my finished manuscript. When I signed up for Reedsy, I was instantly hooked. A smorgasbord of book publishing professionals who have edited successful books in my genre stared back at me. I loitered a while, with intent, when suddenly, a message from Reedsy’s co-founder Ricardo popped into my inbox: “We’re here to help.” I felt far from ready for an editor but Ricardo’s support nudged me forward. After an exchange of “what’s your book about”, “why don’t I make some recommendations,” and “get in early because these people are very good, and very busy,” he sent me a list of five editors that I might like. It was exciting to read through the editors’ profiles and past experiences, knowing that I could pick any one of them to edit my novel — if they’d have me that is. Back then, I knew very little about editing. I couldn’t even explain properly what I was looking for other than “everything please.” Editor Katrina Diaz gave me a quote and a compelling case for a developmental edit, so off I went with her. For the first time my manuscript felt like it was actually becoming a real novel, and I was beyond thrilled!

A good editor is almost like a co-author

Getting Katrina’s report was wonderful. She was incredibly supportive and I felt like her feedback validated the entire project. It was also the first time someone with real literary insight had read the novel. I tried to get my husband and friends to look through the draft, but from their response, I may as well have asked my cat. But, of course, in this case it’s not just about validation, it’s well and truly about improving the novel. It’s about the corrections and suggestions that stirred the story into it’s final form. They were so spot on, and so clever, and so intimate to the story — it was like gently taking a character by the shoulders and turning her slightly in a new direction, so that suddenly her motivations were not so obvious anymore, and the event that defined her true goal became shocking, instead of foreshadowed. I gleefully applied all of the developmental edits suggested by Katrina and got the draft ready for a round of content editing with Aja Pollock. She was wonderful and also understood completely what my manuscript needed in order to be ready to publish. It’s exhilarating and intimidating at the same time to open your draft and see your editor’s suggested edits. To be fair, both Katrina and Aja did a fine job in softening the blow, but there were corrections everywhere — corrections that were necessary. It’s a bit like someone re-writing your novel, and makes you wonder why they don’t insist on a co-author credit frankly.

A satisfying check-mark on my bucket list

Thanks to Katrina, Aja, and Reedsy, in June 2016, I crossed one item off my bucket list by self-publishing my debut novel, Until I Met Her. Six months later, after a number of trial and error (and some success!) attempts at marketing my book, I was signed by Amazon Publishing’s thriller imprint Thomas & Mercer. And I sure didn’t get there on my own.

Until I Met Her is available in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

This book was made with help from Katrian Diaz

Professional editor on Reedsy