Self-Editing Course For Fiction Writers

Discover how to edit your own novel.

Taught by professional editor.


I've finished the first draft of my novel. I know it can be better, but I not sure what to do next. I know it is too early for a professional editor. I am stuck. Can you help?

This is a real, live email I received from a real, live person just like you. Maybe you've said it yourself. Maybe you're even the person who wrote it.

The course has been designed by me (Gary Smailes). I am the founder of BubbleCow. I have more than fifteen years’ experience editing. More importantly, I’ve been training professional editors since 2007.

There's nothing missing; this is the complete program. In fact, we are giving so much away that one of our editors (he’ll remain nameless **cough** Fred **cough**) felt that we were giving away too many secrets by sharing this stuff with writers.

I disagree. BubbleCow is all about being of service to writers, creating better writers, not squirrelling away editing secrets.

There was also talk amongst our editors about the price of the course. The feeling was that, since the average cost for an edit was $900, the course should be around the one-thousand-dollar mark. As you will see, I disagreed (and won).

In this course, you'll learn what we know. You'll also benefit from the thousands of hours we’ve spent editing other writers’ books.

You will discover the best way to edit through structured lessons, real life examples and practical exercises.

In short, this course will teach you how to be an editor, as well as a better writer.

Gary Smailes

Founder at BubbleCow: Book Editing

gary smailes

Let's face it: writing a novel is hard work. Even the most experienced authors will readily admit that producing a work of publishable quality is an uphill struggle.

Getting the idea is just the start. After comes:

  • Planning.
  • Plotting.
  • Writing.
  • Editing.
  • Re-writing.
  • Re-editing.

And then, after all that hard work, you send your book out into the world, fingers crossed that Amazon reviewers will not be too mean (and we all know that they can be very mean).

If you want people to read your book, love your book and talk about your book, then you not only need to tell great stories, but tell them in a way that engages and entertains readers. You need your book to be the best it can be.

The problem that most authors face is that they don’t know what they don't know. You can spend months or even years on a novel without knowing that there's a better way to do things. Schools don't teach creative writing, and knowing the 'correct' way to write a novel is not second nature – it is a skill you have to learn.

That's where we come in.

We are here to be of service to you and can give you the skills that will allow you to self-edit your book, lifting it to the next level.

So what happens if you don't have these skills? Can you still write a great book? If you are a ‘normal’ author with a great idea, how do you find out if your book is the best it can be?

One option is to ask other writers to help. These might be members of a writing group, selected beta readers or even just other writers you know.

The process seems easy. You send them your book, they read it and give you feedback. What could go wrong?

The problem with this approach is simple - writing and editing are very different skill sets. It does not follow that a good writer is a good editor.

The result is that the feedback from writers can be misleading, vague or just plain wrong.

At BubbleCow, we often work with writers who come to us after their friends have suggested their novel needs more ‘work' but are not sure quite what is wrong. We hear this all the time, things like:

‘There’s no sense of place.’

‘The characters seem one-dimensional.’

‘The opening is slow.’

These are all vague sentences that give writers no real value. They hint at a problem but offer no clue on how to fix the problem.

So what if you want to skip the friends and family – are there any other options for fixing your book?

Well, there is another possibility: paying a professional editor to assess your book. This is certainly something you should be doing if you are serious about writing, but not until the time is right. Skilled editors will do a great job at lifting your book to the next level. However, many writers are missing a trick. If you send your book to an editor too early in the process, you are only getting a fraction of the value an editor can provide.

If an editor is working on a manuscript that needs lots of work, they get bogged down in the basic stuff and never really get a chance to flex their literary muscles.

It is like working with any professional; you get the best out of an editor when they are working on the best manuscripts. You wouldn’t pay an electrician to change a light bulb, so why pay an editor to fix the simple stuff?

If you are serious about being a self-published author, you need to also be an editor.

You need to understand how stories are told and a little about the technical side of writing. You need to know where a book fits into a genre, how to engage readers and how to create modern and exciting stories.

This course will teach you these skills and more.

It will show you how to see a manuscript through the eyes of an editor.

In the process it will make you a better writer.

What's in the course?

Mechanics of Novel Writing

Discover the way novels are constructed and how this process helps the writer. This will give you a wide overview of the mechanical aspects of a story and allow you to see where your novel is lacking.

  • 1.1 Overview
  • 1.2 Story
  • 1.3 Setting
  • 1.4 Theme
  • 1.5 Plot
  • 1.6 Scene
  • 1.7 Act
  • 1.8 Genre
  • 1.9 Summary

Understanding Novel Structure

Learn more about the details of novel structure and why this is important in creating engaging stories. Understanding the details of structure will allow you to dissect and improve your own writing.

  • 2.1 Overview
  • 2.2 The Inciting Incident
  • 2.3 Act Design
  • 2.4 The Three Act Structure
  • 2.5 Summary

Elements of Novel Writing

A novel can be deconstructed into a number of elements, such as voice, narrative viewpoint, dialogue and description. You'll discover key aspects of these elements and learn how they can be applied to your novel.

  • 3.1 Overview
  • 3.2 Viewpoint
  • 3.3 Voice
  • 3.4 Dialogue
  • 3.5 Description
  • 3.6 Summary

Mastering Writing Techniques

Find out why showing and not telling is the foundation of all modern writing. You'll learn how to apply the principle of show, don't tell to all levels of your writing, from individual sentences to full chapters. This is the key to great writing.

  • 4.1 Overview
  • 4.2 Creating Engagement
  • 4.3 The Principles of Characterization
  • 4.4 Internal Voice
  • 4.5 External Voice
  • 4.6 Actions
  • 4.7 Pulling it All Together
  • 4.8 Dialogue
  • 4.9 Adverbs in Show, Don't Tell

Technical Elements

Ever wondered how to use Word’s find/replace tool like a pro, how to format for Kindle conversion, or why paragraph length is so important? You'll learn all the technical skills editors use to lift your book to the next level.

  • 5.1 Overview
  • 5.2 Spelling
  • 5.3 Grammar and Punctuation
  • 5.5 Punctuation of Dialogue
  • 5.6 Pre-Edit Checklist
  • 5.7 Using Find/Replace
  • 5.8 Kindle Formatting Issues
  • 5.9 Summary

How The Course Works

This course has three parts:

1. Explaining the theory

The first step in becoming a self-editor is to know what you don’t know.

That means that each part of this course starts by outlining the key concepts in a way that makes sense. Only by getting the theory can you then apply the same concepts to your own writing.

2. Learning the skills

The second step is to turn the concepts into skill.

Knowing why showing, not telling works is great, but being able to identify sections of tell and switching them to show is where the magic lies. Learning to build your editorial skills will be the key to your success.

3. Practicing the skills

The final step is to perfect your skills.

With each concept and each skill will come examples on how to use and apply these skills. This will give you the framework to practice and fine tune your new abilities.

What will happen when you sign up:

  1. On payment you will get a welcome email with all the sign up details.
  2. On 1 November 2016, the course will begin.
  3. You will get an email to remind you to log on.
  4. On logging into the site, you will see the all of the modules and all of its lessons.
  5. You follow the course at your own pace. If you wish to do this weekly, then great. However, if you wish to wait a few weeks and take the whole course at once, this also works.


What you get

  • Access to all written material: You will be able to access ALL lessons, along with any supporting material and exercises.
  • Life time access: You will be able to access at anytime, forever. This will also include all the new material added in the future.
  • Discounted professional editing: Should you decide, at any point in the future, to seek professional editing from BubbleCow, we will instantly give you a $49 discount. This means that you get this course for free.

Money Back Guarantee

gary smailes

If you are not 100% happy with this course, we'll refund the cash you paid, no questions asked.

This promise has no time limit. If, at any point in the future, you are not happy, just email us and we'll refund the full amount you paid.

It’s simple: try the ENTIRE course. If you don’t love it, just email us at ANY TIME and we’ll refund 100% of your price. We’ll even eat the credit-card processing costs.

We built this course based on the way we teach editors at BubbleCow and we are convinced it will work for you. We invested thousands of our own pounds into developing this course, talking to the top experts, and putting together the best lessons anywhere, because we know this material works. We only care about developing super high-quality material that you can’t find anywhere else.

These are not empty promises; we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is.

If you are not 100% happy, you get your cash back.