Developmental editing (also known as content editing) is the very highest level of editing. This service helps you develop every aspect of a book – areas like structure, characterisation, plot and pace.
Depending on the client’s preference, the editor either works hands-on, diving in and developing the book personally, or makes suggestions to guide the author to develop the book.
Whichever style of edit I carry out, I leave no stone unturned and give you the full benefit of my experience and expertise. When an editor looks so intensively at your writing, it’s a recipe for a book you’ll be proud of.
The developmental editing service is for authors who want a publisher-level edit – who want to be challenged in the way that an in-house publishing editor challenges. It’s ideal for authors who are keen to develop their writing skills and publish the best possible book.
When you work with a developmental editor, you’re working with a very experienced, knowledgeable and talented publishing professional. There are plenty of proofreaders and copy editors for hire, but far fewer developmental editors – it’s a specialist service that requires years of learning. So when you commission a developmental edit, you work side by side with someone who really knows how to write a great book. For authors, that proves to be reassuring, educative and, best of all, inspiring.
Of course, this level of editing is not for the faint of heart: it’s a very detailed and invasive service that results in many changes to the book. The end result, though, is well worth the journey.
In the edit, I go through a book sentence by sentence, looking to develop all aspects of the work, like plot, characterisation, structure and pace. I don’t copy-edit or proofread, but I do look at tone and writing style.
How exactly I edit is the author’s choice. Proofreading and copy-editing are services with clear scopes, but developmental editing is a little different. Some publishing houses expect a developmental editor to guide the author through developing the book. Others expect the editor to dive in and rigorously rework – and in places rewrite – the book. I think editing should be whatever best suits the client, and so my service is bespoke, tailored to each client’s individual needs.
Depending on the client’s requirements, my editing is based on either:
With the suggestions-only service, you effectively get a very detailed book critique that you use as a basis to rework your own manuscript.
With the hands-on option, the work can creep into the realm of ghostwriting, and that’s fine by me. Over the years I’ve written a lot of content for other authors’ books (and even entire books). Some of my clients say, ‘Charlie, do whatever you want to the book; I trust your judgement.’ They know that by giving me creative freedom they get the full benefit of my skill as a writer and my experience as a publishing professional.
Whatever style of editing you prefer, the result will be a book that does not just live up to your initial vision but surpasses it. The clients for whom I edit at this level are often those who sign contracts with agents and publishers (who, incidentally, don’t need to know that I exist; I’m a ghostly member of Team Author).
This top-level editorial work isn’t for every author. Some authors find the number of developmental suggestions/changes somewhat overwhelming. In this case, you have two choices: