Sam’s editorial advice is in a different league and she should charge twice as much as she does (don’t tell her I said that) because her input is gold standard stuff. I’ve been writing for well over a decade, and have received extremely helpful feedback from various sources but, in terms of technical feedback, no one is close to Sam’s understanding and expertise.
Her appraisal of the mechanics of a piece; where it’s working and where it isn’t working, is precise and incisive. I know my strengths, and Sam knows my weaknesses. Her laser eye is exactly what my short fiction needed in 2018-19.
In submitting short stories to journals in 2016-17, the most common response was a personalised reply saying, “we loved your writing but could you send us something else?” In 2018, I engaged Sam to help me rework a story. She proved to be the missing ingredient to succeeding with these pieces. Within nine months, three stories we’d reworked had been accepted to literary journals.
She usually sets out two or three steps to get from A to B, and if the written advice needs a bit more explanation she offers that by phone. But 99% of the time the advice makes sense once I get down to applying it. And I can make it my own, too; I take the key she’s handed me to unlock the problem and I go about the solution in my own way.
Revisions aren’t easy work, but they’re worth it. Sam shines a torch on structural/formal issues – hurdles that I couldn’t jump alone because I couldn’t see them. She forces me to up my game, she’s not gentle, she has standards and she presents intelligent, tailored questions and choices. That suits me and I wouldn’t want anything less. However, I’m convinced that whatever your aim, Sam would adapt her advice accordingly. I’ve already recommended Sam to a couple of writers I know.
She’s also particularly attuned to how ‘the industry’ would respond to the work and can steer your choices along those lines if that’s a factor in the project.
Sam came along at an unforeseen juncture where my professional writing life was calling loudly but my personal situation was allowing very little time to write. Thus working with Sam ensured that the available time I had was used most efficiently and effectively. For me, in terms of professional development, Sam’s input is affordable, especially by taking it one story at a time.
Kate Tough, novelist, poet and short story writer.