What is Developmental Editing?

When you’ve written a draft of your nonfiction project and looked at it a couple of times — and some of your trusted friends have looked at it a couple of times — and you don’t know what to do next…

It’s time to hire a developmental (or “dev”) editor.

If you’re not familiar with the term, you may be wondering what a dev editor does.

Well, first off, a dev editor doesn’t do anything to your writing.

Instead, she reads your manuscript carefully, then provides you with detailed feedback (in the form of a “developmental memo”) addressing aspects of your project such as genre, structure, and theme, and includes recommendations for next steps.

In short, your dev editor gives you an expert opinion on what will bring your manuscript closer to the book you want it to be.

Now, because different people likes different books and tastes vary widely, it’s important that your dev editor understands the genre you’re working in and resonates with what you’re trying to do. So, before signing any agreements, have a conversation to make sure you click.

For instance, I don’t read romance novels and I don’t really know what makes a good one. Therefore, if you come to me with a romance novel, we won’t be a match and I will refer you to another editor. But, if you come to me with a project about decolonization, societal transformation, or organizational design, I might not only turn out to be the perfect dev editor for you, I might also turn out to be your biggest fan.

And that’s what you want — you want a fan — someone who believes in what you’re doing and wants to get your message out into the world, where it can make the difference it’s meant to make.

So if you’ve got a draft and you’re not sure what to do, book a conversation with me, and figure out if a dev edit is what you want to do next.

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