Quarterly Review: Jul–Sep 2017

Sophie Playle

On the last day of 2016, I published my Year in Review and Goals for 2017. Since then, I’ve been doing quarterly reviews to keep track of where I am and recalibrate.

Here’s how things are going …

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.


I’ve completed eight critiques so far this year, have just started another two and have another two booked in – so that should bring me to my target! Woo hoo!


I’ve completed five full-length manuscript edits so far this year and have one more booked in, so will reach my target here, too. I still have room in my schedule for one more full edit before the end of the year and have had a few enquiries, so I may end up with a total of seven. Six or seven manuscripts over a year isn’t a lot for a full-time fiction editor, but I’m happy with this number. I’m actively trying to balance editing with critiquing, as well as creating and running my online courses.


As I mentioned in my last quarterly review, I decided to stop selling this course and instead split it into two slightly different courses: The Visible Editor and Tea and Commas. I talk more about this in the Goals for Jul–Sep section below.


I achieved this goal last quarter. When I made the course, though, I realised I had enough material for two courses – one on the theory you need to know to conduct a developmental fiction edit (Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory) and one on how to go about conducting the edit (Developmental Editing: In Practice). Interest was high, so I’m planning to develop the second course before I develop Tea and Commas. And I’m going to start working on this course within the next few weeks.


I currently have 487 subscribers, so I’m confident I’ll reach this target. This is after deleting around 100 inactive subscribers last quarter. I’ve gained 62 subscribers this quarter, which is less than half the amount I gained last quarter.

Two things have changed that may have influenced sign-up numbers. The first is that I’ve changed my opt-in freebie. It used to be the Self-Editing Your Novel guide (for authors); now it’s a Profit, Project and Efficiency tracking spreadsheet (for editors) [NOTE – this isn’t the case anymore; at the moment, I don’t have an opt-in freebie].

The second is that I’ve been blogging less. Which one is the cause of the reduced number of sign-ups? I’m not sure. I’ll need to keep an eye on it over a longer period. But I don’t feel that happy with my opt-in still, so I’m thinking of changing it again anyway.

I want to reiterate that the 500 subscribers goal is arbitrary. I wanted a figure to aim towards, but the number of people who have signed up to Liminal Letters isn’t the most important thing – which is why I deleted a bunch of people from the list a while back. The most important thing is that the right kind of people are signing up to hear from me.

Because my newsletters aren’t public, I feel more comfortable going deeper into my thoughts and feelings when I write them. Knowing I’m writing to people on the same wavelength as me is important. With my business hat on, my newsletter is a means for potential clients and customers to get to know me – which hopefully transitions to trust and sales. But on a more personal level, I enjoy the connection and creativity it brings to my life.

Goals for Jul–Sep: How did I do?


So, I totally didn’t do this. The wonderful Louise Harnby invited me to write for her blog, which I did, but this isn’t something I pitched for so I’m not sure I can count this! Why has pitching for guest posts been so hard for me? I continually put it off.

It might be something to do with a lack of confidence in … and I apologise for using this sour phrase … my sales funnel.

There are two main reasons to guest post. One is to create more backlinks to your website, which in turn improves your search engine optimization (SEO). The other is to directly drive traffic to your website … But when you do that, you need to encourage people to follow a logical path.

I could try to get more people to sign up to my newsletter. That would be logical, wouldn’t it? But as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t feel confident in my opt-in freebie at the moment. It’s been suggested to me that I should just not offer one, that people don’t sign up for it anyway – they sign up to hear from me. But this goes against all the business advice I’ve heard … And I do want to offer a thank-you gift to my subscribers. It just needs to be the right thing.

Hmm. I need to think on this a bit more.


I haven’t quite managed to stick to this schedule. Including my guest post for Louise, I wrote eight posts in twelve weeks. I think the reason for this is that I’ve been immersed in more editing projects over the past few months. They take up such a large amount of daily focus and energy that often I didn’t manage to sit down and write. Not an excuse, but an observation.

Despite this, traffic to my site has been strong and steady. I’m guessing this is to do with the accumulative effect of all the post I’ve been writing this year. Considering that my average monthly visitor number last year was 500, I’m pretty pleased it’s now around 2000.

Most popular posts:

This is really interesting to me because I wrote that first post years ago. It’s always been a popular post, but for some reason it’s had a surge this quarter. The second post was retweeted several times by Joanna Penn (of The Creative Penn), a well-known figure in the self-publishing industry, and was also linked to in the Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #83. The last post is one I wrote last quarter.


I launched The Visible Editor, which gained a good amount of interest when it first went on sale. I’m really pleased with this course and have had good feedback. But I need to figure out how best to market it … I have some ideas up my sleeve.

I’ve pushed back creating Tea and Commas until early next year because I realised I was spreading myself too thinly with the courses this year. I’m looking forward to making this one, though, and am determined to make it the best fiction editing course possible.

Goals for Oct–Dec: What’s next?


I will get back into the routine of blogging every week. Who knows, I might even experiment with creating a content calendar so I’m not winging it all the time …!


You’ve all been very patient with me and are probably sick of hearing me say this is coming soon. Not long to wait now! I’m planning to have the beta version of Developmental Editing: In Practice ready to go for the beginning of November, with registration opening at the end of this month.

Right, I think that’s enough to be getting on with for the rest of the year! 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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Insights into the world of fiction, from the desk of an editor

Editorial considerations, creative revelations and the occasional existential lamentation – sharing my experiences and personal recommendations exclusively with you.