When Do You Hire a Developmental Editor?

books in need of developmental editing

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)?

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.

Things I’m Writing About, Editing, and Reading This Week: May 12, 2015 Edition

Students examining sinkhole - Tallahassee

Sink hole image courtesy of Florida Memory on Flickr.

Things I’m Writing About, Editing, and Reading This Week

(A new feature, updated weekly.)

Writing about. . . Electronics and engineering equipment for a client’s e-learning module

. . . and heartbreak for a songwriting class assignment (Recommended: Coursera’s Berklee School of Music songwriting classYou don’t need to know anything about music, and it’s free.)

. . . and sink holes for a short story I’ve been working on, and cursed fibers and crochet for a feature film script based on my short

Critiquing. . . GIRLS for a friend (a spec script for a contest)

Reading. . . Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl for book club

On the horizon: corporate copy, plus something from the book world.

Happy writing, editing, and reading to you.

– Kristen

Client Praise: “I will be a medical student in the fall.”

Last summer, a new client contacted me through my website. His need: an exceptional personal statement for his medical school applications. For nearly a decade he’d been trying to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor, but health and financial setbacks had made him a nontraditional candidate, easy to overlook.

A career mentor suggested he hire a professional editor. He Googled and he found me. We worked together over a two-week period, passing drafts and notes back and forth. I read through a small but promising mountain of raw material and picked the most compelling parts of his personal story: anecdotes that emphasized his perseverance, compassion, real world work experience, and commitment to medicine. The results, as of this winter:

I gained an acceptance at ____ NYC. This was a school you helped me with! Thank you very much! I have gotten 4 interview requests. I turned down one, and have one planned in March. Overall, I cannot thank you enough! I am so lucky to have found you. I will be a medical student in the fall. If not in NYC then somewhere else.

What a rush, knowing that a simple edit can have such a huge impact on someone’s life.

Do you need help finding a common thread or a compelling story in your career experiences? I’m available to critique, edit, and coach your professional narrative, personal statement, executive summary, or LinkedIn profile. To see Testimonials on how I’ve helped others clarify their career stories, click here.