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Proofreading, Editing, Critique

Proofreading, Editing, Critique

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The Different Types of Editing 1 - Developmental Editing

Writing is only a quarter of what is involved in producing a successful book: editing, publishing and marketing are the other equally important three-quarters of the effort. No one person can do these four tasks as well as they need to be done as they involve four very distinct and detailed professions.

When you’re writing a book, let the experts in the other three areas do their job while you do yours. If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to find a team of experts, but this is not always easy to do. What do you need? Who does what you need?

Your best bet is to start with editing. Editors generally specialise in genre and a certain type of editing. So, how do you know what type of editing you need? In this mini-series, we’ll have a look at three types of editing: developmental editing, copy or line-editing and proofreading.

In this article we’ll have a look at the first type.

Developmental editing

After reading your manuscript, a developmental editor will carefully take it apart and then advise the best way in which to put it back together again so that it’s a better and more powerful version than the original. She will guide you by highlighting the weaknesses and strengths in your writing, and she will also teach you how to become a better writer using your own manuscript as an exercise, but she won’t rewrite the book for you! You’re the expert in that domain.

A fiction developmental editor looks at the big picture your book paints: are events logical? Is something missing? Is there too much information and, if so, what is the best way to reduce it? You’re hiring her to spot plot holes and characters who need to be developed or deleted, irregular pacing and inconsistencies.  

A nonfiction developmental editor will help you align arguments and make sure they follow each other logically. She will also check that all the key points have been dealt with appropriately. Some editors may also help you fact-check your manuscript.

Although developmental editors focus on the book as a whole, some of them may also offer copy-editing or proofreading services, which is a plus. Check with your developmental editor before looking for a copy-editor.

How does developmental editing work?

Your editor will read through your manuscript on a word processing programme, make tracked changes and leave you comments. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of changes. Spend time reading through the editor’s comments and rewriting your manuscript. This may mean changing, deleting or adding scenes or even restructuring the entire book. Don’t be discouraged; she’s the expert in editing and that’s what you’re paying her for, isn’t it?

Once you’ve revised your book, you’ll send the new version back to your editor who will then send you another version with suggested revisions and comments. This will happen a few times until she’s satisfied that your book is the best version possible.

How much will developmental editing cost?

All editors have their own rates and charging system. The price may also depend on your editor’s experience. Editors have a choice of charging by the hour, the page or the word. If you have a fixed budget, find an editor who charges by the page or word so that you know how much you will be paying.

In the next article, we’ll have a look at copy editing.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Louanne Piccolo