Before you submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher …
And before you pay for copyediting or proofreading …
For a writer seeking to find an agent and/or publisher, working with a developmental editor before submission is an invaluable advantage. Once a writer has gone through the process of writing and re-writing, then fine tuning numerous times, it’s often difficult to see what else needs to be done to make his or her book stand out in today’s market. A developmental editor offers a fresh perspective and an experienced eye.
Often I find that authors have missed some opportunity for high drama in their plots or haven’t fully developed characters and relationships. Many times authors are sitting on the cusp of writing something original and surprising, but need that extra push and encouragement to take risks and coax out the unique in their manuscripts. I point out problem areas and then offer possibilities, but often my advice sparks ideas that come from the author’s imagination.
I want to emphasize that developmental editing always comes before copyediting and proofreading. There’s no sense in paying for copyediting when large chunks of text may be moved, changed, or deleted.
The relationship between a writer and the developmental editor is collaborative in nature. The old adage, “Two heads are better than one,” holds particularly true when striving to make a book reach its fullest potential. After my initial developmental edit on a novel, narrative non-fiction or memoir, I re-read parts of the book that the author has significantly changed as part of my fee, and the writer and I work back and forth until we both feel that the manuscript shines.
The Scope of Developmental Editing
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. We make recommendations while understanding that all authors have a unique voice and each should be allowed to reveal itself. A service agreement between the developmental editor and writer should outline the scope of services, and it can be amended if issues pop up that are outside of the original scope.
Is My Book Ready?
If you are struggling with that question, consider enlisting the help of a developmental editor before you submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher.
ANA HOWARD writes and edits contemporary and historical children’s, young adult, and adult literature. She has seen one of her novels made into film and has won numerous literary awards.