Developmental editing is a “high-level” form of editing, and it comes before the manuscript is even considered finished. A developmental editor reviews an author’s early manuscript—or even manuscript outline—with an eye to form and content, determining what improvements can be made to the entire structure of the book, such as the reordering of sections and even chapters, and gets in early to help adjust tone, flow, and pacing.
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I currently offer developmental editing for non-fiction art-related manuscripts only.
Developmental editing involves
reading the manuscript multiple times
creating a “map” of the manuscript to determine content-level pacing and flow
making suggestions for paragraph, section, and chapter order
finding potential gaps in content
querying anything that may cause readers to be confused or lose interest
making language-level edits
preparing a multipage manuscript evaluation
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A developmental edit is the right level of editing if you’ve gathered all the content for a book but are unsure of the best way to unfurl it for the reader, or if you have a seemingly disparate topics that need to be woven together into one book. Developmental editing can also be very helpful for newer authors as well as those who have read their content so many times that it’s hard to have perspective on it.