Although I’ve used sub-editors in the past, for the fiction that I’m currently unleashing to a mostly uncaring world, I’ve not used their services at all.
The reason for this is mostly because my experience with sub-editors has been fairly mixed. Those sub-editors I contacted through Literotica and Stories OnLine were worse than useless. I don’t know by which criteria they thought they were qualified, but it wasn’t because they had any great understanding of the English language. Those sub-editors I used through Ruthie’s Club, notably Ruthie, Neil Anthony and Nat, were very good, but in fact made remarkably few changes to my stories. Most of these were either mistakes that I should have noticed anyway (and these weren’t too many) or differences of opinion concerning grammar and spelling that had more to do with the breadth of the Atlantic Ocean than anything else. The fact is that the sub-editors were responsible for amendments to less than 1% of the finished product, which, although an excellent contribution towards the 100% perfection we all aspire to, somehow lessens my debt to them.
However, one thing I most definitely miss isn’t the need for stylistic amendment, but rather that elusive thing: the informed second opinion. It’s good to hear someone say that such and such a story is good or, on the other hand, that it isn’t. As an author you need to hear that before you release your fiction to the world at large.
What has become more obvious, though, is the need for the quality of fact-checking that I’ve never really carried out sufficiently exhaustively. I’ve come across it before in my story Neighbourly Love where I was confronted with a long list of corrections of assumptions I’d made about American culture by Uther Pendragon. In the case of my current epic novel, The Battle for the Known Unknown, I’ve been criticised by readers on Stories OnLine and Literotica for my ignorance concerning military rank and the properties of water under extremes of pressure.
If I’d had the services of a sub-editor then maybe these errors may never have happened.
That’s something I really miss.