Tanya Lee discovered her love for writing when she landed a human rights-based column for a suburban Vancouver newspaper. After slowly developing The Wolf and the Rain for years, she finally began approaching the finishing line: a published book. But first, she needed an editor. Wanting to reach the same level of success as traditionally published authors, Reedsy was the perfect fit for Tanya.

Finding a self-publishing platform that produces high quality books

After discovering Reedsy, I was surprised to find that it wasn't just a marketplace for hiring freelancers — it was a place I could hire top-tier professionals with experience in major publishing houses. I was so excited when my dream editor Melissa Frain responded to my request and agreed to work on my book. Melissa was a Senior Editor at Tor Books (Macmillan) with a bevy of award-winning authors on her resume, and a ton of experience in my genre. She was extremely friendly and helpful as she walked me through the different types of editing — never pressuring me to select a more extensive package. Reedsy offered the best of both worlds: the independence that comes with self-publishing and the quality of traditional publishing.

Working with a Former Tor Macmillan Senior Editor

With Melissa’s guidance, I decided to go for a developmental edit that included an editorial assessment (a 5-10 page overview of her impressions and specific feedback grouped by topic), and a copy edit (the marked-up manuscript with notes in the margins). 

One of the biggest ways Melissa's edit impacted my manuscript was in relation to plot development. Due to the nature of my book, the main plotline is not introduced until further into the story. Melissa explained to me that readers need to "at least think [they] know what the big storyline is." For me, this meant introducing a sub-plot that teased the main storyline, putting the reader on the right path from the first page.

The final version of The Wolf and the Rain took the book to a whole new level. Melissa's feedback was so true to the story that I would have done myself a disservice not to see each question, comment, or suggestion as an opportunity for improvement. 

One misconception I've come across when speaking with other indie writers is the belief that you can leave the editorial assessment and copy edit to your beta readers, and only hire a professional for proofreading. While I have wonderful beta readers who gave me incredible feedback, the draft I submitted to Melissa was as good as we could make it without professional help. Once I received her feedback, the changes were extensive, and they were necessary. This type of insight is not something you can DIY or outsource to family and friends.  

Winning Best YA Fiction for the IndieReader Discovery Awards

Since the publication of my book in 2018, I have received a number of awards — something I did not expect. A defining moment was when I received my Kirkus Indie review. Not only did the review exceed my expectations, but my book was also put on the Kirkus “Great Indie Books Worth Discovering” list, only eligible to the top ten percent of indie books. Then I received the IndieReader Discovery Award for best YA fiction, bronze at the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, and a spot on the Whistler Independent Books Awards' shortlist. Since I work in human rights and gender equality, one of the coolest accolades was being selected by the feminist book subscripton box, F-Bom. 

It has been really encouraging to see what’s possible for an indie author with the competitive edge of a professional editor like Melissa. So my advice to other indie authors is: do it. You've spent months, possibly years on your manuscript. Respect your work, respect your time, and invest in yourself.

Made with help from Melissa Frain

Editor on Reedsy