Quarterly Review: Apr–Jun 2017

Sophie Playle

Rather than write down my goals and not review them again until the end of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to start doing quarterly reviews.

That way, I can make sure I’m on-track and able to make adjustments along the way. Read my Year in Review and Goals for 2017 to see my original thoughts.

Main Goals for 2017:

  1. Conduct twelve critiques.
  2. Edit six manuscripts.
  3. Run Start Fiction Editing twice, at full capacity.
  4. Create a Developmental Editing course and run it twice, at full capacity.
  5. Reach 500 newsletter subscribers.


In my last quarterly review, I wasn’t on track with this target. I’d only critiqued one novel by that point. But recently I’ve had a lot more requests for critiques. I’ve completed three critiques over the past three months, and have four more booked in for later in the year. This means I’m still technically not on target to have completed twelve by the end of the year, but I still have six months to book another four critiques – which is achievable.


I edited just one full manuscript last quarter, which I was fine with since I’d been focusing on my courses. This quarter, I’ve edited a further two full manuscripts, meaning I’m completely on-track with this target. I’m enjoying editing more now that I’m doing it less! It’s such a time-consuming and intensive service, it suits me to balance it with my other services and courses.


The February take-up was disappointing. I ran it again recently and it did slightly better, but it still didn’t sell as well as I’d hoped. The course gained a lot of interest when I launched it last year. This year I’d assumed I’d simply exhausted my network and that marketing was the problem.

But the more I thought about it, the more unsure I felt. Whenever I opened registration, I would get messages from people saying similar things: firstly, it was too much money to invest; secondly, they were only interested in some of the modules.

The original idea behind the course was to help people set up their own fiction editing businesses, but a lot of the content can be applied to all kinds of editing businesses. As well as that, the course doesn’t teach people much about how to edit fiction – and I realised that’s something people really want.

So I’ve decided not to run Start Fiction Editing again. This is the first time I’ve announced this! Some of you may have noticed two new courses crop up on my website, The Visible Editor and Tea and Commas, and these are the new incarnations of Start Fiction Editing.

The Visible Editor will be all about forming your business brand and building your website. Most of the content for this course will be taken from Start Fiction Editing, rewritten to be useful to all kinds of editors – not just those who edit fiction.

Tea and Commas will teach people how to edit fiction professionally. I’ll be able to take some of the material I created for Start Fiction Editing, but I’m going to have to write quite a bit of new stuff, too.

You might remember that I created Start Fiction Editing with my good friend Karen Marston of Untamed Writing. Currently, I’m in the process of buying out Karen’s share. We both felt it was for the best. I love working with Karen, though, and I’m glad we created this together!


Done and done!

*launches fireworks*


I hit this target about a month ago! I hadn’t expected to achieve this so early in the year. I’m putting it down to the fact I’ve been blogging more this year, but I don’t know for sure.

To make the most of reaching this milestone, I decided to send a survey to the people on my list, and the responses were enlightening. Originally, I addressed my Liminal Letters to authors. Then I noticed quite a lot of editors were signing up to it – out of curiosity, I assumed. But it turns out 79% of my subscribers are editors (or want to become editors)!

And I’m glad. Because if I want to work with around twenty authors a year but sell course placements to around a hundred editors a year … I need to be reaching more editors than authors. It seems kind of cold to think about it like that, but I also love connecting with other editors. I’ve ended up writing more about the practical and philosophical side of running an editorial business than the editing side, and I assume this is more interesting (or at least more relevant) to other editors than it is to authors.

To encourage even more editors to sign up to Liminal Letters, I’ve recently changed the gift I send to new subscribers. It used to be my ‘Self-Editing Your Novel’ guide (aimed at authors) and now it’s my ‘Project, Profit and Efficiency Tracking’ spreadsheet – which editors can use to do all sorts of useful things, like work out their average editing speed and their rates. [UPDATE: I’ve changed this again now … There’s currently no sign-up incentive!]

I decided that ‘Self-Editing Your Novel’ should be available for immediate access (still completely free, of course), because the more people who read and use it, the better! And that’s a win all round. It can be downloaded from the Library page.

Now, here’s the shocker. Technically, I now haven’t reached my target of 500 newsletter subscribers. Because soon after reaching that number, I deleted a hundred people from the list. Why? Because they hadn’t opened any of my emails for months – so what was the point in them being there? I’m now back at around 425 subscribers, and it’s growing steadily.

The number isn’t the main goal for me here, even though I’ve expressed it in that way. The quality of the people on the list is the goal. And by that I mean people who share my values and are interested in similar things. Meaningful connection is what it’s all about.

What’s Been Working

I’ve continued to blog once a week (though I didn’t post last week … shh!) which held my site visits steady at around 1,500 a month for April and May. In June I had around 2,500 visits; two of my most popular blog posts were published in June and the launch of Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory also attracted a lot of people to the site.

My three most popular blog posts were:

More people are also finding my site through search engines, and I’m putting this down to blogging more frequently, too. I don’t have a specific Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy, but the more useful content there is on my site the more likely people will find me. As well as that, Google likes it when websites are updated frequently, so perhaps my site is ranking higher now because of this.

I’m also counting the creation of Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory as something that’s worked well this quarter. I’m not counting my chickens just yet, but I’m hoping this course will continue to be something people want.

What’s Not Been Working

This is a hard one to analyse this time around. But I think I’ve got an idea. Essentially, I have a feeling I’ve let my productivity slip – using reflection and energy management as excuses.

I love learning and I love planning, but there’s no point in either if I don’t put what I learn and what I plan into action. I’ve also been spending a lot of time exercising, food shopping and cooking, and letting myself sleep in for as long as I want most mornings. Though these are arguably all good things, I’m not sure I’ve been balancing it all well enough.

I also didn’t go ahead with my monthly Liminal Letters prize draw. I was planning to offer some free editing to authors and free business coaching to editors every month as an incentive to sign up to Liminal Letters, but I didn’t end up trying it in the end. I’m happy with what I’m doing with the letters at the moment.

What’s Next? Jul–Sep 2017


I aimed to have three guest posts published by now. I haven’t pitch a single one. So this is a goal I’m resetting for myself. To nudge me to do it, I’ve put when I’m going to pitch the posts in my calendar.


It’s working, so I’ll keep doing it! When I surveyed the Liminal Letters readers, the majority wanted to read more about writing craft theory and developmental editing. Lots of people also wanted to read more about taking their editorial business to the next level (as opposed to what to do as a newbie in the field) and marketing. So expect more on these topics.


I’ve already put when I’ll be working on the creation of The Visible Editor [UPDATE: it’s done!]  into my calendar, and I’ll do the same with Tea and Commas later in the quarter. I aim to have all the information for The Visible Editor online next week!

If you’re an editor, how’s the first half of your year gone? If you want to see how I get on with my plans, make sure you sign up to Liminal Letters using the form below.

Sophie Playleis a professional fiction editor. She specialises in developmental editing, critiquing and copy-editing, and loves working with authors and publishers who are passionate about high-quality storytelling. Speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction are her genres of choice. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more: liminalpages.com

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