What Is Developmental Editing? A Definitive Guide

Developmental editing is a type of editing that focuses on the overall structure, content, and organization of a written work. It is also known as substantive editing, or macro-editing. This type of editing is often used for book-length manuscripts and other long-form content. It is particularly useful for writers who are looking to improve the quality and readability of their work. It is one of the more comprehensive editing services and can help writers to create a clear, organized, and well-structured document. It can also identify gaps in information and suggest ways to improve the flow of the content. If a writer is looking to make an impactful impression on readers, developmental editing is a great way to ensure a professional, polished end product.
Developmental editing is a necessary part of the writing process, particularly for longer pieces of work. It helps to ensure that the written work is as clear, concise, and effective as possible. In this blog post, we

Developmental Editing Explained

Importance of developmental editing

Developmental editing is crucial because it offers a fresh viewpoint that can be used to spot any weaknesses in a writer’s work. These experts can offer writers honest feedback on how their work comes across and advice on how to advance and improve it.

For fiction, developmental editing is especially crucial because it helps to ensure that your story has a solid foundation. By doing so, you can establish a connection with your intended market and ensure that your manuscript will be something they will be interested in reading. When done well, their work can enhance a book’s perception among readers and help you get good reviews.

What is developmental editing?

A thorough analysis of a piece of writing is called developmental editing. The book editing process is now at the stage where an editor examines a manuscript more thoroughly than at earlier stages. It focuses on enhancing the structure and content of a book, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, a short story, or another type of writing. The main objective is to ensure that a book has a distinct focus and that the components, like sentences and style, make sense. Reviewers at this stage also ensure that the writing meets the standards of the intended readers for your genre.

Developmental editing entails sending an editorial letter to the author that considers the writing from all angles and offers suggestions for maintaining the focus of the work. Some components developmental editors address include:

Developmental editing vs. copyediting

Although both copyediting and developmental editing are crucial steps in the review process to ensure that a piece of writing reads well, they differ in what they look for. Here are some differences between these two types of editing:

Order of occurrence

Developmental editing occurs before the copyediting stages of writing. Since it may necessitate numerous rewrites, it is usually the first editing step after a manuscript has been completed. Once you’ve implemented the suggestions of the developmental editors, you can concentrate on getting a more thorough evaluation of your writing. A reviewer scrutinizes your writing more carefully during the copyediting stage in order to spot any grammatical mistakes or weak phrases.

Aspects that are examined

The characteristics editors look for when examining a piece of writing is another distinction between the two types of editing. The work is examined for structure and content by developmental editors, who are more focused on larger ideas. This is a general form of editing that incorporates elements like plot and characters. Copy editors pay more attention to how a writer uses language and whether they adhere to grammatical and punctuation rules. A piece of writing is frequently made more reader-friendly during copyediting by removing grammatical errors like ambiguity and passive voice.

Type of writer they serve

First-time authors can benefit from developmental editing because it can offer tips on how to make a story plot and other elements succeed. This ensures that a piece of writing is interesting, which is helpful for those submitting manuscripts to agents.

Even though many publishing houses provide editing services, they might not always do so with a developmental editor. If they have a short deadline and believe their story has a strong foundation, some authors may also decide to forego this stage of editing. Other editing options to consider include peer editors who can offer error correction or comprehensive editors who perform both copyediting and developmental editing.

Tips for working with a developmental editor

You can take into account the following advice to assist you in working productively with a developmental editor:

Proofread for small errors

Check your writing for minor mistakes such as typos and missing punctuation before working with a developmental editor. By doing this, you can make it simpler for the developmental editor to read your writing and prevent them from getting sidetracked by small errors. Additionally, it can enable you to expedite the editing procedure.

Choose a communication preference

It’s crucial to let a developmental editor know your preferred method of communication when working with them. This includes your preferred method of receiving feedback, such as in person or online. Editorial letters, scene list spreadsheets, and phone calls are a few formats that developmental editors frequently use. How frequently you prefer them to send you feedback is another aspect of communication preference.

Be open-minded

When interacting with a developmental editor and absorbing their criticism, keep an open mind. Their unique viewpoint can help shed light on potential improvement areas. The main objective is to make your writing the best it can be, even though they might ask you to remove a supporting character or change the plot.

Hire ahead of time

If at all possible, try to employ a developmental editor well in advance of your launch date. This frequently happens right after you complete your first or second draft. It’s crucial that you give developmental editors enough time to complete projects for multiple authors because they frequently work on multiple projects at once. Additionally, it may help you avoid having to pay more as compensation for setting a strict deadline. To help you decide whether your topic might interest your target audience, you might want to consult a developmental editor before you begin writing.


What does developmental editing do?

Developmental editing rates for your manuscript usually cost between $. 07 and $. 12 per word. Some developmental editors charge between $7 and $10 per manuscript page. 50 to $20 per page.

What is the difference between developmental editing and copyediting?

Developmental editing is a stage of the book editing process where editors thoroughly assess an author’s work to ascertain what it requires in order to be prepared for publication.

How do you do a developmental edit?

Here’s “10 Tips for Developmental Editing Your Fiction.”
  1. Create a sound structure. …
  2. Help us understand your main characters’ goals. …
  3. Don’t forget about your supporting cast. …
  4. Bring your primary narrative to the forefront. …
  5. Include secondary narratives but don’t focus too much on them.
  6. Is your pacing consistent and effective?

Is developmental editing necessary?

Developmental editing is a stage of the book editing process where editors thoroughly assess a writer’s work to ascertain what it requires to be prepared for publication.

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