What does the author get after it? What am I thinking about and watching for? What do I NOT do?

What are the steps?

1. I read the book like a reader.

First, I just read the book from start to finish. No notes, no stopping, no analysis.

I want to take in the book without thinking about it too much. Feel how it does from a reader’s perspective.

2. Make brief notes from the first read-through.

While it is still fresh in my mind, I jot down my impressions of the manuscript (ms).

  • Did it grab me?
  • Did it make sense?
  • What was the big idea?
  • Who would enjoy this or find it useful?
  • Where was it weak/strong?

3. Structural analysis of the Table of Contents (ToC)

Now the analysis starts, beginning with the Contents.

  • How is the book divided into parts?
  • Chapters?
  • Sections (if they are in the ToC)?
  • Does that structure make sense or give an idea of how the book works?

4. Sections – the next layer down

Having looked at the chapters, I layout the sections with their headings (if applicable – some nonfiction books have them and some don’t).

  • Do the section headings flow?
  • Are there any missing in that flow?
  • Are they consistent?

5. Overall structure type

Now I have an idea of the type of structure.

Common ones are driven by:

  • chronology
  • character (nonfiction too)
  • story (this has many subforms)
  • evidence (build evidence to a conclusion)
  • argument (state conclusion and balance evidence)

6. Detailed analysis read-through

I read again as an editor. This takes time & I make notes on:

  • flow/pace
  • use of story
  • rate of revelation of info
  • tension (eg does the end of a chapter end beg the next?)
  • quality of evidence
  • tone
  • consistency
  • sense

7. Pull out themes

  • Are there common flaws?
  • What is working throughout?

8. What should change?

I pull together the suggestions from steps 5, 6 and 7 to make suggestions of what the author might do to improve the book.

This might be in several stages. Change the structure, then we’ll look at flow, then consistency and tone, etc.

9. Write developmental editing report

This deals with overall structure, flow, tone & consistency. It includes themes noted. It contains examples from the ms and suggestions to be added, removed, or moved. I build on the positive and note the negative as points for improvement.

10. Check comments in the manuscript

In the Word doc I left comments. I check them for:

  • consistency
  • tone – encouraging while clear, blunt but not disparaging
  • not too repetitive, but without missing out on important points

11. Write the email to the author

This is the most encouraging. Not in a false way, but stating the strengths of the book. I tell them that everything is only a suggestion because it is their work. I always offer at least 1 call to clear up any further questions they have.

Note what I am NOT doing:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Paragraph level structure
  • Rewriting sentences – that’s for line edit
  • Fact-checking

It’s high-level view of how the book works. It’s not a check for correctness – copyediting and proofreading is later.

Notice that the detailed read, that many assume I dive straight into, isn‘t until step 6. A book is read front to back, but understood layer by layer. That’s why the questions of who is it for and what is the big idea need to be clear, or become clear.

What then?

The author goes and works on the book.

If I’m publishing them through Exapt Press, I know they’ll be back for another round of dev editing and/or line editing. If I’m just dev editing then we may have another round where I see what they have done.

Summary of steps:

1. Read like a reader
2. Note impressions
3. Structural analysis of the Contents
4. Sections – next layer down
5. Structure type
6. Detailed read
7. Pull out themes
8. What should change?
9. Write dev edit report
10. Check comments
11. Write author email

Would this process help your book? Know it could use a dev edit?

I’d love to help.

I can also help you structure your book before your start typing the words and sentences. That will reduce or eliminate the need for a dev edit.

My DMs are open. ✉️ 😀

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