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        Developmental Editing: Definition, Rates, and Services

        • calenderMay 21, 2024
        • calender 7 min read

        Developmental editing is the backbone of turning a manuscript from a messy draft into a literary masterpiece. It’s the first deep dive into the substance and structure of a manuscript. 

        So, what is developmental editing anyway? How does it stand out from other types of editing? Let’s dig into this crucial developmental editing service and discover why it could be the secret to unlocking your writing’s full potential!

        Elevate your content with expert editing services!

        To start, let’s see an easy-to-understand developmental editing definition:

        What is developmental editing?

        Developmental editing is a process that focuses on refining the structure, content, and organization of a manuscript. Editors help authors clarify their ideas, improve narrative flow, and ensure the text effectively communicates its message to the intended audience.

        This type of editing is not merely about fixing errors but about reimagining and rearranging the content when necessary. It questions whether each chapter serves its purpose, whether characters resonate and evolve, and whether the narrative’s pace maintains engagement.

        The components that development editing deals with are:

        Developmental editing example

        Before developmental editing:

        “John walked on the street. It was dark. He felt scared because there were sounds coming from behind him. He thought he saw something or someone. He wasn’t sure what was happening.”

        After developmental editing:

        “John hurried down the deserted street, his footsteps echoing in the unsettling darkness. Every rustle and whisper behind him sent a shiver down his spine, heightening his fear of the unknown lurking in the shadows.”

        Steps of developmental editing: A practical approach

        Context: You’ve written a fantasy novel set in a unique world where magic is linked to visible tattoos. The main character, Kael, is on a quest to overthrow a corrupt magician who rules the kingdom.

        1. Initial assessment

        The developmental editor reads the manuscript thoroughly to understand the story, characters, and thematic elements. Issues such as unclear word-building rules, inconsistent character behaviors, and pacing problems are noted.

        2. Feedback and suggestions

        • World-building: The editor suggests ways to clarify how magic works in the world, perhaps by introducing the rules earlier and through more interactive scenarios.
        • Character development: Kael’s motivations are somewhat unclear. The editor recommends developing a more detailed backstory showing why Kael is compelled to fight against the magician.
        • Pacing: Some chapters, particularly towards the middle, are slow and detract from the main quest. The editor suggests condensing these sections and adding more confrontational scenes to maintain tension.

        3. Editorial letter

        The editor compiles an editorial letter detailing the major findings and recommendations, providing specific examples from the manuscript and suggesting possible rewrites.

        4. Discussion

        The author and editor discuss the feedback, focusing on the most critical aspects and brainstorming solutions. They agree on which suggestions to implement and outline a revision plan.

        5. Revision

        The author revises the manuscript based on the agreed-upon changes, possibly in stages, focusing first on the structural changes before moving to character and scene-specific revisions.

        6. Review and fine-tuning

        After revisions, the editor reviews the manuscript again, ensuring that the changes maintain the story’s integrity and enhance its readability. Further adjustments may be made to perfect the manuscript before it moves to copyediting.

        While hiring a developmental editor, you should know the general cost of developmental editing. This will help you decide your budget and which service to select. Let’s take a look at average developmental editing rates as per general industry standards.

        Developmental editing rates: What to expect

        For developmental editing, rates might be charged per word, per page, or as a flat fee, and can range anywhere from $0.02 to $0.09 per word. The cost of developmental editing can vary significantly based on the manuscript’s length, complexity, and the editor’s expertise. Since developmental editing dives deep into your content and involves a lot of creative brainstorming, it usually costs more than basic copyediting

        Top 3 developmental editing services

        Listed below are the top developmental editing services:

        1. PaperTrue

        PaperTrue offers comprehensive developmental editing services tailored for authors across various genres including fiction, academic, and business writing.

        Features: Their service includes detailed feedback on plot, character development, and structure, along with suggestions for improvement. PaperTrue prides itself on a seamless client experience with a focus on enhancing clarity and reader engagement.

        Pricing: The pricing for editing a 1000-word text in 24 hours is US $42.

        2. Scribendi

        Scribendi provides a broad range of editing services, including developmental editing for both fiction and non-fiction.

        Features: Known for their fast turnaround times and high-quality service. They offer detailed feedback on the structure and organization of manuscripts, helping authors refine their narratives.

        Pricing: The pricing for editing a 1000-word text in 24 hours is US $42.

        3. NY Book Editors

        They specialize in a hands-on approach to developmental editing, catering to both fiction and non-fiction manuscripts.

        Features: NY Book Editors pairs authors with seasoned industry professionals who provide detailed critiques. Their services are tailored to help manuscripts reach a publishable standard, focusing on elements like pacing, character arcs, and thematic depth.

        Pricing: The average cost of NY Book Editors for developmental editing is around US $6,000.

        When to use developmental editing

        1. After finishing your first draft: Once you complete your first full draft, a developmental editor can help refine the big elements like your story’s flow, character development, and overall structure.
        2. Before major revisions: If you’re planning to make big changes because something feels off, a developmental editor can guide you on what needs fixing and how to do it effectively.
        3. Switching to traditional publishing: If you’re looking to move from self-publishing to traditional publishing, developmental editing can polish your manuscript to meet higher industry standards.
        4. Receiving consistent critiques: If multiple readers are pointing out similar issues, a developmental editor can help you understand and fix these problems.
        5. Trying a new genre: Moving into a new genre can be challenging. A developmental editor can help you meet genre-specific expectations and appeal to new readers.
        6. For contests or grants: When entering writing contests or applying for grants, developmental editing can enhance your manuscript’s appeal and effectiveness.

        Things to consider before hiring a developmental editor

        1. Experience and specialization

        Look for an editor who has experience in your genre or subject area. For example, An editor specializing in fiction might not be the best fit for non-fiction book editing. Take a peek at their past projects or portfolios to gauge their expertise.

        2. Reputation and reviews

        Take a peek at reviews or testimonials from their previous clients. You can usually find these on their website, LinkedIn, or with a quick Google search. Positive feedback from authors with similar projects to yours is a good sign.

        3. Editing style and approach

        Every editor has their own way of doing things. Chat with them about their process to make sure it lines up with what you’re looking for. Some editors focus more on big-picture issues while others delve into more detailed creative advice.

        4. Sample edit

        Many editors offer a sample edit of your manuscript’s few pages. This developmental editing service can give you insight into how they would handle your entire manuscript and whether their feedback resonates with your vision.

        5. Communication and compatibility

        Ensure that the editor communicates clearly and effectively. You can ask questions like, “How frequently will the feedback be given?”, “Feedback will be given in person or through some online tools?”, etc. 

        How to hire a developmental editor

        1. Define your needs

        Figure out what you need from an editor before you start your search. Are you struggling with plot holes or character development? Or maybe you need help shaping the structure of your non-fiction book? Having a clear idea will help you find the right match.

        2. Research and shortlist candidates

        Look for editors through writer’s associations, online directories, and recommendations from other writers. Websites like the Editorial Freelancers Association or Reedsy can be valuable resources.

        3. Interview potential editors

        Once you’ve got a shortlist, reach out and set up interviews. Ask about their experience, talk about your book, and see how they respond. This is also the time to discuss timelines, fees, and other expectations.

        4. Review contracts and fees

        Make sure you’re crystal clear on what the editor will provide, when they’ll deliver, how much it’ll cost, and what their revision process looks like. Ensure the fees are within your budget and that the terms are agreeable.

        5. Make your decision

        After weighing all your options, go with the editor who best suits your project and feels like a good match for you. Select an editor with whom you feel you can develop a productive working relationship.

        Developmental editing vs. copyediting

        Developmental editing and copyediting are two distinct stages in the editing process. Each serves a specific purpose in preparing a manuscript for publication.

        The difference between copyediting vs. developmental editing is:

        In developmental editing vs. copyediting, while developmental editing focuses on the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the story, copyediting addresses the ‘how’ of the expression. Developmental editing might ask if a character’s development aligns with the plot, while copy editing ensures that the character’s thoughts are expressed clearly and without grammatical errors.

        Investing in developmental editing could be a game-changer for your writing journey. It’s like bridging your creative dreams with what readers and publishers are looking for.

        Developmental editing can elevate your work to its highest potential. If you’re looking to make that leap, consider the expert developmental editing and proofreading services of PaperTrue, where your vision gets the polish it deserves to shine in the literary world!

        To know more about editing, keep reading:

        Frequently Asked Questions

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        Tanvi Linkedin

        With a foundation in Life Sciences, Tanvi enjoys curating technical writing tips tailored for ESL students. When she's not translating complex concepts into bite-sized nuggets, she can be found playing with dogs or painting landscapes.

        One comment on “Developmental Editing: Definition, Rates, and Services

        1. Vivaan Ahuja says:

          I like what you guys are up to! Such smart work and reporting! Carry on the superb work guys…

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