What is Developmental Editing?
Development editing is the first step in the book editing process. The terms “content editing,” “stylistic editing,” and “substantive editing” are also used.
Once a writer has gone through the process of writing and re-writing, fine-tuning numerous times, it can be difficult to see what else needs to be done to make their book stand out in today’s market. A developmental editor offers a fresh perspective and an experienced eye.
What Does a Developmental Editor Do?
Developmental editors look at all aspects of the novel, including plot, setting, characters, voice, tone, theme, point of view, dialogue, structure, pacing, formatting, the beginning, middle, and ending, and anything else that needs to be addressed. A quality developmental editor will make recommendations while understanding that all authors have a unique voice and each should be allowed to reveal itself.
How to Choose the Right Developmental Editor for You
Our professional editors span a wide range of genres and specialties. Browse them below and click through to learn more about those that will be a good fit for your book. Then fill out our submission form for a free quote. You will be able to select as many editors as you like from whom to receive a quote.
Hire a Professional Developmental Editor
The author and editor of more than 300 books, David Aretha knows what it takes to get a book published.
David Aretha has edited and authored books for 30+ publishers, including St. Martin’s Press, HarperCollins, Lyons Press, Random House, Running Press, Warner Books, Total/Sports Illustrated, and Scholastic.
His books have generated more than $20 million in revenue and have appeared on the Today show, The Early Show, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. His rating on Goodreads.com is 4.2, based on more than 3,000 ratings.
Ghostwriter, Book Indexer, Copy Editor, Proofreader
Ann Aubrey has 30+ years of experience as a writer and editor, including fiction, nonfiction, medical, academic, technical, and college-level textbooks.
She began a career as a technical writer: geophysics, geology, and information technology. Then transitioned into journalism, working as Associate Editor/Editor of the Catholic newspaper of San Diego and teaching fiction writing at the university level.
Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
Developmental Editing, Manuscript Critiques, Work-in-Progress Beta Reading, Query Letters and Book Proposals
Former Locus magazine editor, Amelia Beamer is a critically acclaimed and agented novelist with knowledge of both the craft and the business of science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing. She has seen a number of writing careers start while working at the Clarion East Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop, and she is a graduate of the Clarion Workshop with many years of critique experience. As an editor for Shueisha English Edition), she edited and helped package novels and collections over multiple genres, including young adult, thrillers, literary fiction, and erotica, and she is sensitive to the needs of translated texts and authors whose first language is not English.
Amelia's fiction has been reviewed favorably in publications including The San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post, and her writing has been translated into several languages. Barnes and Noble called her debut novel one of their favorite genre novels of the past decade.
James N. Bond
"James examines the symbols of language the way a biologist examines cells."
~ New York Times Review of Books
Beta readings, manuscript evaluations, proofreading, line editing, copy editing, developmental editing, query letters, book proposals.
Need some assistance with your manuscript? For twenty years I have joined forces with fiction and nonfiction writers from all over the world. I start by preparing a free sample edit of your work. I will be happy to talk with you in detail about your publishing needs.
Success in publishing results from keeping readers engaged. Unfortunately, though, many writers lose their readers. I excel at identifying precisely where in your manuscript that is likely to happen, and how to prevent it.
My education immersed me in the creative processes of the world’s great literary and pre-literate cultures. Earning my English MA, I studied the entire sweep of Western literatures, from Gilgamesh to flash fiction. For years, one of my own volumes, Derrida for Beginners, was the best-selling introduction to one of the century’s most influential voices in literary theory. I also studied under the able tutelage of Hugh Kenner, remembered best for his monumental masterpiece, The Pound Era. For my Religious Studies MA, I studied the ancient and diverse Indo-European tradition of visionary poetics illumining a broad range of literatures throughout Europe and Asia. Consequently I have edited not only novels and short stories, but nonfiction, including many books on spirituality.
Writers report that I bring to their manuscripts questions and insights that other editors never would have considered. These insights cause things to snap into focus. Writers then feel energized to proceed with new vision.
My own books have been published by William Morrow, Prentice Hall, Hosei University Press (Japan), Chongqing University Press (China), Pensamento (Brazil), Thassalia (Spain), Hans-Ulrich Möhring (Germany), and Orient Longman (India). I have also authored the most successful titles in the For Beginners series and written a volume cited by Library Journal as one of the Top Ten Business Books of the Year. My pillow book unveiling South Pacific coming-of-age customs ignited a much celebrated, nationwide slow love revolution in the zen-infused archipelago of Japan. In the realm of verse, I translated the poems of San Juan de la Cruz, illustrated by Group f/64 photographer Imogen Cunningham. I have freelanced as a script consultant for the film industry as well as an editor for Fielding University, True Pictures, Image G, and SendPoints (China).
I will be most happy to talk with you about your editing needs.
Literary Fiction, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Romance LGBTQ+, Crime, Detective, Academic Nonfiction, Film Scripts, Media Books
Lauren Humphries-Brooks has copy edited hundreds of novels, short stories, and nonfiction titles, including books by bestselling authors Jane Yolen, May McGoldrick, Paul Cornell, and Alyssa Palombo. She regularly works with large and small publishers, including St. Martin’s Press, Tor/Forge, Prometheus Books, Bella Books, Entangled Publishing, and Cobblestone Press.
She loves working with both first-time authors and established writers, from people looking for that final check to those who want involved editing and collaboration. She’s a writer herself, with a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh, where she learned the art of constructive criticism, pacing, plot structure, and dialogue.
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Romance
Theodora Bryant has been editing professionally since 1994, ten of those with her fiction-only, award-winning publishing company.
She has been a member of the Book Editing Associates network since 2001. During that time her authors have garnered “Book of the Year” in science fiction, and “Finalist” and “Winner” awards in romance and mystery works. Her authors often receive outstanding reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly.
She’s reviewed, evaluated, and edited thousands of manuscripts through the years and helps her authors navigate towards the “Top 100 Paid on Kindle” lists.
Academic, General Nonfiction Editing
Peggy Campbell has been working as a copy editor, line editor, and developmental editor of nonfiction books for more than two decades, working for both top university presses and trade publishers as well as authors who hire her directly. She also works as a developmental/line editor and is an expert user of the Chicago Manual of Style. Her areas of expertise are history (especially American history), including biography, memoir, and autobiography; politics, government, public affairs, and public policy; and equine topics.
Her edited books have won a number of awards and honors, including New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the Tankard Award, Choice Outstanding Book of the Year, National Jewish Book Award, and Choice Outstanding Academic Title. She has been privileged to edit forewords for John Kenneth Galbraith and Morley Safer. Campbell’s own work as a reporter was nominated for a Pulitzer.
Developmental Editing, Manuscript Evaluations, Line Editing
200+ books edited for major publishers and independent authors
Carrie Cantor, a published author and industry veteran, worked as an acquisitions editor at a New York publisher where she acquired and edited titles on a variety of subjects. As a free-lance editor, she has extensive experience performing diagnostic editing (critique), development editing, and line editing. Her clients are writers in the areas of memoir, history, current events, health, Judaica, women’s issues, how-to, and pop-culture, as well as romance, women’s fiction, and literary fiction.
She also helps authors write query letters and proposals that appeal to the market. Because she is an adjunct to a successful New York literary agency, she has the commercial savvy to advise clients with an eye to current trends and industry standards.
Carrie will meet you wherever you are in your writing process. If you need an objective assessment of what’s working in your book and what needs improvement in terms of structure (narrative arc, characters, pacing, etc.), she can provide a thorough professional critique. Her “bedside” manner is sensitive and respectful but holds nothing back.
If you need a line-by-line edit to polish the writing, Carrie is an expert at smoothing over any awkward moments in the narrative, helping you to be the best writer you can be without imposing her own style or taste on your prose.
Apocalyptic Fiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Police Procedural, Narrative Nonfiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thrillers, True Crime
Developmental editor, copy editor, and writer with a background in criminal law and martial arts
If your novel has fight scenes or involves police procedures or the law, Karin Cather is your specialist. She has accompanied police on search warrants, observed autopsies, and been to countless crime scenes. She has training in arson prosecution, search and seizure law, and the insanity defense. She can help add realism to your writing.
In creative nonfiction, as someone who spent over a dozen years as a prosecutor, Karin know how many stories law enforcement officers, other first responders, and prosecutors have to tell. Karin edits autobiography and memoir of these professionals—current or retired—who write under their own names or use pseudonyms.
Karin brings her rich and varied background to bear on crime thrillers, police procedurals, and true crime, as well as dystopian and apocalyptic fiction, science fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy.
Ann Howard Creel
Congratulations on taking a step closer to achieving your writing goals. Even in today’s publishing climate, I believe it is still possible for new writers to enter the business and succeed. With little background, I was able to get twelve novels published including children’s middle grade fiction, young adult novels, and adult literature. I’ve worked with both small independent publishers, such as Roberts Rinehart and Brown Barn Books, and large publishing houses, such as Penguin Putnam and American Girl, and I’ve collaborated on a screenplay that took one of my novels to film for Hallmark Hall of Fame on CBS.
In addition, I’ve been editing professionally since 2007 and have helped numerous authors achieve their publishing goals. Writing is a creative endeavor done best when inspiration strikes, and I believe every writer has his or her unique story/stories and voice with which to tell it. That said, certain guidelines, skills, and techniques will make stories shine, and writers will always benefit from the help and support of experienced writers/editors.
I specialize in developmental editing of mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, narrative non-fiction, and memoir and would love to hear about your project and goals.
Major Commercial Fiction, Nonfiction, and Screenwriting
Publishing a book at a traditional (Big 5) publisher is pass/fail . . . where pass is a 97%.
I excel at taking material from a “B-“ and putting it over the top, to an “A+.” Your material may, or may not, sell, but I’ll turn it into the best manuscript it can be.
Apart from editing adult trade, young adult, and middle grade fiction and nonfiction, I’m also a screenwriter (WGA) and film producer for the studios.
My recently edited books include Girl From Nowhere by Tiffany Rosenhan (Bloomsbury, 2020) and Sixty Stories About Thirty Seconds by Bruce Van Dusen (Post Hill/Simon & Schuster, 2020). Both are debut authors.
My past bestselling authors include Anthony Bourdain (my name is at the top of the acknowledgments of Kitchen Confidential), Chris Wallace (Character), Richard Marcinko (Rogue Warrior), Steven Pressfield (The War of Art), Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket Diaries), and Brett Favre (Favre).
My titles have been featured on: Sixty Minutes, The Today Show, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and the front page of The New York Times. Two books I bought, edited, and published sold to studios (Warner and Universal) for over $1 million.
I founded and was editor-in-chief of Rugged Land Books, distributed by Penguin Random House, where I acquired, edited, published, and helped to write dozens of titles.
As an author, I recently completed The Last Duke for Duke University Press (2021). I have written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal among other publications.
On the film side, I developed and produced The Conspirator (Robin Wright, directed by Robert Redford), Gone in Sixty Seconds (Nicolas Cage, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) and The Negotiator (Samuel Jackson, directed by Gary Gray) among other films. I recently sold a pilot for a series to AMC Studios.
Award-Winning Book Editor, Author, and Ghostwriter
Former literary agent and advertising copywriter, published author, editor and ghostwriter of several bestsellers, Stacey Donovan helps guide her clients’ books to successful publication, whether traditional, niche, or independent.
Stacey Donovan has edited or ghostwritten dozens of published books for her clients, many of which have received critical acclaim and awards. Among them: New York Times Bestsellers (Mystery); International Thrillers Awards (Thriller); Florida Book Awards (Thriller); Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) Silver Medal Award (Memoir); Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year (Memoir); Stories of Mighty Women Top Biographies (Memoir); Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Ben Franklin Award, Bill Fisher Best First Book (Fiction); Chanticleer International Book Awards (Thriller)
As a professional editor and ghostwriter, Donovan is experienced in many genres: Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction; Mystery; Crime; Suspense; Psychological Thriller; Literary Fiction; Women’s Fiction; Young Adult; Erotic Romance; Erotica; GLBTQ; Memoir.
Donovan is also a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. Dive, her first, critically acclaimed novel was published in 1995 (Penguin) and reissued in 2015 (Open Road Media). The Art of Loneliness, a sexy novella, is available on Kindle. Co-authored by Donovan, the four-book series based on Zalman King’s Red Shoe Diaries is also available.
Novels, Self-Help, Memoir, Christian, Spiritual, Business
David Ferris has worked on 100+ manuscripts that have landed publishing deals.
His long track record as a ghostwriter, writer, editor, and filmmaker has given him exposure to a wide range of authors, writing styles, and genres, including novels, nonfiction works, self-help books, memoir, Christian and other spiritual writing, and business books.
With professional experience in both fiction and documentary film, as a producer, writer, and director, David is well versed in the art of cinematic storytelling and can edit or critique your screenplay.
20+ years of Editing Experience: Developmental, Substantive, Line, Ghostwriting, Proposals
Self-help, Psychology, Alternative Medicine, Spirituality, Consciousness, Nature, Business
“Your words are powerful; they deserve to be handled with care, clarity, precision, and intention.”
Matthew Gibson has been a writer, editor, and researcher for much of his professional life, operating at a high level of discernment while skilled at finding the most essential message in any piece of writing.
From developmental/line editing and manuscript evaluations to ghostwriting and book proposals, his versatile skills are applicable to nearly any project. He’s particularly experienced helping first-time authors with subject matter expertise (e.g., scientists, consultants, therapists, teachers) find their voice and shape their ideas and story for a wider audience.
He has run two print magazines with extensive book review sections; co-founded a book imprint that published a New York Times bestseller; is a long-time reviewer for the nationally recognized Nautilus Book Awards; and is the author of three books with established publishers. His experience on all sides of the publishing equation gives him a unique perspective on the needs and aspirations of both first-time and experienced authors.
Barbara Kimble has worked as a writer, ghostwriter, editor, teacher, coach, corporate communication consultant and journalist, and served as Writer in Residence at Tyndale House Publishers. She has written or co-written ten books, published more than 600 articles in the Chicago Tribune, and edited approximately 200 books for various publishers and authors.
Barbara has helped dozens of writers to prepare for the publication of their books, including both those who have published with traditional publishers and those who have chosen to self-publish, including teaching a six-video writing course for a publisher.
A true wordsmith with a love for the beauty of language and the power of ideas, Barbara aims for clear and memorable writing that includes the occasional touch of humor, if appropriate. She makes what’s complicated easily understandable whether when editing a book, writing a web article, or coaching authors.
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Short Stories, Anthropology
Manuscript evaluations, developmental editing
Floyd Largent edits nonfiction, novels, and short stories. His first love as a fiction editor is science fiction and fantasy for young adults and adults, especially for works in which science, characterization, mystery, and unusual cultures play an important part.
In nonfiction he specializes in anthropology, history, science, spirituality (including religious and New Age), and memoirs.
E. M. Levy
Academic and other nonfiction, memoir; social sciences, psychology, spirituality and consciousness studies, manuscript evaluations, developmental editing, line editing, copyediting
E. M. Levy has edited books for Doubleday, Random House, and many other publishers and individuals. He is at home in the social sciences and humanities.
He has edited important works of religious scholarship. In the area of general nonfiction, he has worked in a variety of genres, including biography, public affairs, spirituality, and memoir. Many authors who are nonnative English speakers have turned to him to perfect their English written expression.
Kelly Lynne Schaub
Paranormal Romance, Westerns, Young Adult, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Psychic, Supernatural Phenomena
Kelly Lynne Schaub is the proud "auntie" to over 150 traditionally published novels, novellas and short stories. As an editor for The Wild Rose Press, she edited contemporary western and light paranormal romances, with heat ratings from sweet to spicy.
Kelly has published over 100 non-fiction articles, four short stories, and two novels. She helps authors polish their submission packets for literary agents and publishers, and also helps writers prepare their manuscripts for self-publishing.
New York Times Bestselling and Award-Winning Book Editor
Literary Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Adult, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Erotica, Humor, New Age, Spirituality
Andrea Robb spent over a decade as an acquiring editor at Penguin Random House, working on key titles for Knopf, Doubleday, Pantheon, Vintage and Anchor Books. She edited Jennifer McMahon's NY Times bestselling novels, The Winter People, The Night Sister, and Burntown; the NY Times bestselling Veronica Mars mystery series; and the Harvard Lampoon's NY Times bestselling parody Nightlight.
Award-winning New York Times best-selling ghostwriter, book doctor, editor, screenwriter, and writing coach. Mentored by an Academy Award-winning writer. Ghostwriter and consultant for eleven #1 best-selling books, including five New York Times #1 Children's books. I'm here to make your deepest dreams come true.
I mentored under Oscar-winning screenwriter Stewart Stern ("Rebel Without A Cause"). I served as consultant for the #1 best-sellers TEARS FOR MY CITY by Dean Dimitrieski and THE REVVED LIFE by Pastor Jeff Knight, and for Robert Beatty's #1 best-selling Children's novels SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK, SERAFINA AND THE TWISTED STAFF, and WILLA OF THE WOOD. In addition, my ghostwritten screenplay based upon a #1 best-seller was winner of Best Adaptation at two international script competitions.
Dreams are powerful. Dreams can transform you. Dreams come from a Higher Power, and can take you to your highest place. If you have a dream, or a vision, your heart yearns to see it come true. My calling is to help you write the words that can make your deepest dreams come true. I love taking all that passion and fire burning inside you and transforming your life stories, your dreams, your visions, and the deepest yearnings of your heart from the first spark of imagination into fire-breathing reality.
I'd love to help deliver your creative visions to the world, using the fire and passion of imagination, and the life-transforming power of your dreams.
Thank you for sharing your dreams with me.
Religion, Theology, the Bible, Mysticism, Spirituality
Joya Stevenson (PhD., Harvard University, Spiritual and Personal Development) edits in the broad areas of religion, theology, spirituality, and the Bible.
She works with original thinkers, inspired visionaries and mystics, theologians and biblical interpreters, researchers and academics.
Editor for three New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling authors
Caroline T. has been editing popular fiction for over 20 years and has 400+ novels under her belt.
Her particular expertise is fiction for women: she edits all sub-genres of Romance, as well as Suspense, Thrillers, and Mysteries. Carla Neggers, Karen Robards and Andrea Kane---three New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling authors---had their books edited by Caroline.
Editor of 3 New York Times Bestsellers and 3 Los Angeles Times Bestsellers
Don White is an award-winning editor with more than twenty years’ of publishing experience. Among the notable writers he’s edited are Gore Vidal, Edward Albee, E. Lynn Harris, Edmund White, and Samuel R. Delany.
He’s equally at home in fiction (literary novels, commercial fiction, mysteries) and nonfiction (memoir, biography, general nonfiction). As an editor and writer he’s freelanced for Doubleday, Penguin, Bantam, Basic Books, and Beacon, among others.
Don has been singled out for distinction by the American Library Association, Publishers Weekly, and Out Magazine. As an independent scholar he's authored three books on African American history as well as several books for gay and lesbian readers. He's also an emeritus board member of the Lambda Literary Foundation. Don lives in New York City.
Christian Book Editor and Bookcrafter
I'm a veteran editor and writer, with four decades of full-time work in book publishing, focusing especially on Christian books of all kinds. I’ve also edited numerous business and leadership books, memoirs, and fiction titles.
I’ve partnerered with dozens of respected communicators in bringing out many notable works. These authors have included Louie Giglio, Carolyn Castleberry, Henry Blackaby, J. I. Packer, C. J. Mahaney, Ruth Myers, Randy Alcorn, Thelma Wells, Richard Blackaby, Tony Evans, John MacArthur, Larry Crabb, Larry Osborne, Andy Stanley, and Dave Harvey, to name just a few.
Many of my editing projects have involved extensive collaborative writing—especially developing content from various author sources such as sermon transcripts, message outlines, letters, and journal entries. I’ve worked to maintain the author’s voice and style, and I’m grateful to have often been commended by authors for doing exactly that.
As an author, I’m currently writing the third novel in a trilogy of historical fiction (currently being agented for consideration by publishers). I’ve also written extensively for children (using a pen name), with more than twenty books published. Three of my books were winners of the Christian Book Award (the “Gold Medallion”) from the ECPA trade publishers association.
Note: Thomas' rate starts at 7 cents per word.