Not many writers realize there is more than one type of editing. “Editing” is an umbrella term that encompasses a whole range of specialties, like copyediting, proofreading, line editing, etc. Not know the difference between these types of editing can lead to unnecessary expenses and disappointing interactions with editors. If you learn nothing else about developmental editing, specifically, I want you to know this one thing:
Developmental editing is the type that will have the biggest impact on your story’s success.
Other types of editing have their time and place in the publishing process. For example, your book should not see a copy editor before the story is absolutely finished. If you’re going to be rewriting any part of it, you’ll end up undoing a lot of their work, wasting everyone’s time and a chunk of change.
I say developmental editing has the biggest impact on your story’s success because it gets your story to absolutely finished. Don’t get me wrong, other types of editors are important. But, ultimately, a typo or two is infinitely more forgivable than undeveloped characters and/or a weak, meandering plot.
Like I’ve said before, developmental editing focuses on the big-picture elements of a story. The things that make or break it when it comes to your readers.
Once you’ve completed a draft, reread that draft, and changed everything you can think to change, a developmental editor comes in with a fine-toothed comb. They’ll catch if your plot is missing any beats, or take it from good to page turning. They’ll call you out on any flat or stereotyped characters, and give you suggestions for bringing them to life.
I’ve even gone so far as to point out a theme I saw running through a story that the writer herself wasn’t entirely conscious of. “Did you notice how much water seems to play into this character’s story?” I asked. She hadn’t but she loved the ideas it gave her for how to draw that out more intentionally.
Developmental editing will make a good start into a finished manuscript. It’ll take you from, “I think this is done” to “Holy cow, I wrote this?” It is the most important part of the publishing process, and unfortunately, the one that gets skipped the most often.
You want your book baby to have the best chance possible to capture the hearts and minds of readers? Then you should plan on working with a developmental editor.
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