Is my baby ugly? How to get the best from a developmental editor.

by | 22 Jul 2021

A developmental edit is not about spelling and commas but big questions about structure, flow, completeness and the reader.

To get the best out of your developmental editor, remember three things:

1. The developmental edit gives you the biggest bang for your buck

The biggest improvements come at the developmental stage.

All books should be properly copyedited and proofread. But the big-picture changes that happen here are the ones that really make a difference. It’s the contrast between the composition of a painting and the brushstrokes. Perfect brushmarks aren’t going to save you if you miss off Mona Lisa’s hair.

2. The editor is not just a “better” reader

When you ask beta readers to take a look at the book (and you should) you will get low-level responses. That’s why you need a few. You’ll get comments about where they stopped reading, when they got bored, or parts they liked. You might get suggestions about particular things a certain reader knows something about. Beta readers can’t do what a developmental editor can:

  • a structured critique of how your book works, or otherwise
  • a view of the general flow of your evidence, argument etc.
  • suggestions about ordering to improve pacing to keep a reader hooked
  • passages and chapters that need to be added or deleted
  • whether the book’s content and tone matches your intended readership

3. The editor is on your side

As an editor myself, I can tell you that the one thing an editor loves more than a good book, is working with an author to make a good book great. That means the editor wants what you want. If they criticise it’s because they want to help. And remember, they are judging your book, not you.

Have a limited budget? Invest in development for the biggest improvement.

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