When Do You Hire a Developmental Editor?

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

If you’ve read my previous three posts, you’ve learned the types of book editing and what kind of book editing you may need. Most of my nonfiction book editing and coaching clients retain me for developmental editing, which I described here.

Perhaps you’ve realized you need a developmental editor to help you start, finish, or improve your book. When do you hire her (me)?

When to Hire a Developmental Editor (a.k.a. Content Editor)

Some writers engage an editor after drafting a complete manuscript. In many cases, the author may sense or know that their work needs significant retooling–a stronger outline or a different structure, for example, or the insertion of new chapters.

Others are at the beginning. They have a specific deadline and like to retain a developmental editor to work with them at set intervals as they write. For example, I’ve worked with authors who handed me fresh chapters about once every 4 to 8 weeks for up to a year. In that sense, the editing resembles a coaching relationship. The independent editor can nudge the writer for more work when new chapters become delinquent. Some people like and appreciate this combination of creative coach and deadline-driven accountability partner.

A content or developmental editor can be helpful at all phases, as a sounding board and a second set of eyes to look over what you have–and what you may need to bridge the gap between the work-in-progress and the finished product.

So the short answer to “When should I hire you to edit my book?” is “Any time.” If you feel stuck, need coaching, or know something in your manuscript needs fixing (even if you’re not sure what), a developmental editor can help you. Contact me to find out how.

Editorial Updates: Spring Cleaning, 2017

I hate to see professional websites with stale, un-updated blogs. . . and yet I seem to have one. No longer! Spring cleaning means I need to address this shameful situation.

Here are some projects I’ve been up to in the past year:

Contract content writing. I write SEO-optimized medical blog posts for an agency with multiple clients (1-6 posts per week). I also ghost write weekly corporate blog posts for a second client in a B2B industry. I can do this for more clients–contact me if you need content.

Nonfiction book editing. Note, you may see “non-fiction” and “nonfiction” spelled interchangeably throughout this site. I let the inconsistency stand so I can grab both search terms, though I prefer the non-hyphenated version.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve been editing a business book one chapter at a time–providing a mix of content editing and light line editing. That book will be published by a major business and technology book publisher sometime later this year or in early 2018. If you’re interested in working with a developmental editor, contact me–tell me about your project (book or otherwise), how far along you are with your work, your timeline, and what you think you may need.

Nonfiction manuscript critique. Last month I completed a manuscript critique of a self-published business book on leadership and management. How critique works: I read a finished draft of a book, then provide a 2-5 page, single-spaced editorial letter outlining any major issues I see (e.g., persistent grammar or usage problems; voice or style inconsistency; confusing train of thought; sequencing or structural problems; and areas where the author needs to expand upon an idea in order to make the book more “book-like” or marketable). Critique is a service I will soon list prominently in my offerings–it’s great fun to work with authors at this level, and it’s an easy, productive way for both parties to get to know each other without entering into a long-term contract. If you’re interested in critique, contact me–tell me about your project, your timeline, and where you feel your writing needs the most attention.

Upcoming Projects:

Over the next few weeks, I’m starting two new, small projects: editing and revising marketing copy for two publishing-related clients. 

How I Can Help You:

If you have a nonfiction manuscript in need of a critique or content edit, I have room in my schedule beginning June 1. I’m also taking ghostwriting and book doctoring work (nonfiction only). 

  • Critique = two read-throughs, an editorial letter, and occasional margin notes.
  • Content edit = a thorough markup of your digital manuscript with margin notes regarding structure, tone, voice, argument/research (how well did you build your case?), and sequencing of ideas. This level of editing includes light line editing (to show examples of how to fix persistent grammar or usage issues). 
  • Book doctoring = revising or helping to complete (i.e., add material to) a nearly finished nonfiction book. 
  • Ghostwriting = heavy re-writing or writing from scratch: nonfiction books, presentation materials, blog posts, business letters, query letters, etc.

Spring is an ideal time to get an editor or collaborative writer on your side–especially if you want to work faster so you can enjoy your well-earned summer vacation. Let’s chat!

Client Kudos & Praise (5/25/16)

Before I dive back into a big pile of copywriting assignments, a few quick notes about recent client work:

  • A website for which I wrote copy (personal stories by consumers) was awarded a “best site” award for 2015. (Client is confidential.)
  • The e-learning module script I wrote last summer is now complete and live on ElectricSmarts.com. The client is proud of the end result and looks forward to working with us again. We’re a two-woman dynamo; contact us if you need e-learning modules complete with Flash animation and voiceover talent.
  • I have a new content editing testimonial for my current project, a nonfiction business book due from a major business publisher in 2017. Per the author’s wishes I’m keeping his praise anonymous for now, until the project is complete:
vintage typewriter in black
Your edit is a gift! You're doing exactly what I hoped you would be doing: copy editing, mixed with excellent content editing. I also love your suggestions and questions — makes me think deeper about the messages I'm trying to convey and how to better communicate them.
J.
Business Book Author and Tech Director at a Fortune 500 Company

If you’re looking for help with copywriting, e-learning module development, or editing, please send me an email to reserve a spot on my calendar. I have time available starting after July 5.