Developmental Editing

An objective analysis of the manuscript as a whole. After you’ve completed a draft (or three), you may be too close to it to see where or how to improve it further. Here’s where a developmental edit comes in.

It’s a good idea to complete at least a first draft of your book before sending it to an editor. In early drafts, there are often still themes to flush out, characterization to expand, structure to nail down, and logic errors to correct. If your book is as good as you are able to make it, you have a draft ready for a developmental edit.
A developmental edit examines the basic, big-picture components that affect how effectively your book communicates its story or message. I offer constructive, actionable feedback to help you with any necessary revisions and expansions. If you disagree with any of my recommendations, I’d be happy to discuss other ideas with you – after all, this is your book, not mine.
The scope of developmental editing is threefold:
  1. Supportive and constructive feedback and suggestions in the form of an editorial letter of 4-10 pages (depending on the manuscript’s length and needs)
  2. Detailed queries in the margins of the manuscript to illustrate my feedback
  3. In-line edits as necessary to illustrate my feedback
Aspects of your manuscript I will explore:
  • narrative voice and POV
  • prose style and tone
  • character and plot/subplot arcs (as applicable)
  • conflict or argument development (as applicable)
  • story world development (as applicable)
  • goal and themes
  • structure and organization
  • flow and pacing
  • marketability and genre conventions
  • and more
A developmental edit does not involve combing your text for errors (that’s a line/copy edit). It’s about improving it as a whole through raising questions and concerns about existing and potential issues.
Rate: $0.035/word (variable)
You may ask, How do I know whether my manuscript would benefit from a developmental edit?
You can base this judgment upon your confidence level and/or the feedback you receive from beta readers. It’s always a good idea to find at least a few beta readers from your target audience who will give you their honest feedback. Based on their reactions, you might choose to either start with a professional manuscript critique (a service I don’t offer) or a developmental edit, or skip straight to a line/copy edit (if you are confident with your content). I’m also happy to offer a personal recommendation.
A developmental edit improves on a story that is already well formed and has the necessary components: a robust plot and a premise with legs; fully realized characters with real stakes in the story; and conflicts that will intrigue and entice your audience to continue reading. A developmental edit will take the building blocks already there and help the author make them as strong, fluid, and entertaining as they can be.