So, what is developmental editing exactly?
Developmental editing is concerned with two things:
Number One: The Big Picture
Developmental editing examines the big picture elements of a book—plot, characters, themes, etc. Also called structural or substantive editing, this might involve cutting or moving entire paragraphs, sections, chapters, characters, etc., to ensure the structure of the book is sound and accessible to the reader.
This is also when you focus on addressing issues of tone consistency and audience clarity. If you're writing for a YA audience, this is where you determine if the language you're using is appropriate as far as emotional and physical maturity.
Number Two: The Nitty Gritty
In addition to assessing a manuscripts structure, developmental editing helps you form a vision for your manuscript concerning voice and style. This means making changes in the prose at the chapter, scene/section, paragraph, and sentence level (also known as line editing).
Basically, it takes a hard look at everything that’s going to make a publisher want to publish, or a reader to keep reading, your book! That’s huge!
If you’re a writer who’s at all concerned with these things, I’m chomping at the bit to work with you on refining your words, strengthening your skills, and developing the best possible version of your story.
And I have good news:
You don't have to do it alone!
"But why should I hire an editor? I/my friend/my mom can do this for free!”
Sure you/your friend/your mom could edit your manuscript. But ask yourself a couple questions first:
How well-trained are you/your friend/your mom in editing?
How much experience do you/your friend/your mom have editing published books?
How good of a job does anyone do when they’re doing something for free?
As for going the DIY route, you’ve been looking at this thing for so long you’re no longer reading so much as reciting it. Developmental editing covers basically every part of your manuscript—story structure, character development, language and word choice, thematic resonance, and more! Why take all that on yourself when you can get support from a professional?
The one thing you can’t DIY: the reader’s experience
The other thing a professional developmental editor can offer you is a reader's perspective. This person is experiencing your story for the first time, just like your future readers. That's something you just flat out can't DIY.
"But why wouldn't I just hire a beta reader for that?"
Because a beta reader may or may not be trained in giving feedback. They could tell you what they did and didn't like, but chances are they won't have insight into why a story element isn't working and (most importantly) how to fix it.
And again, they're working for free and might not be able to devote the kind of time a developmental editor would to really diving deep into your manuscript.
Writer’s aren’t made of gold.
I get it, believe me. Most writers aren’t doing it full-time. Some are working part-time to pay the bills while they chase their dreams. Others are regular middle-class folks, who aren’t strapped but things are still tight financially. Cost is an issue, but like I said, I get it.
But let’s get something straight right off the bat:
Cost is not the same thing as value.
When you think about writing your book, do you think about what it cost you to do it? The time you could have spent at work, making money; the depreciation of your computer; the price of all those notebooks and pens; all of those things have corresponding monetary numbers attached. If you add it all up, I bet your manuscript actually cost you a pretty penny to produce.
But you did it anyway. Why?
Because you wanted to, because you needed to, because it added value to your life. Think about your most prized possessions or accomplishments. Isn’t your manuscript on that list? Of course, it is! It’s a thing of beauty. It’s valuable!
Why then does all that value get diminished to dollar signs when it comes to taking the next step toward achieving your writerly dreams?
It’s all a matter of perspective, really. Hiring an editor shouldn’t be viewed as an expense, but rather an investment. Editing adds more value to your most valuable possession: your story.
But don't take my word for it!
“Megan is awesome to work with. She’s honest in her feedback and really good at explaining what your story needs. She’s also easy to relate to and ask questions. Have no fear when working with her, she’s got you covered!”
— Sara Ragnarok, happy client
“Megan's editorial guidance is a must for anyone serious about writing. She examines the overall story before returning to the manuscript to ask probing questions that truly help the author achieve her vision. The developmental letter is thorough and the in-text comments are smart and insightful. She has almost a supernatural ability to see what's missing and challenges you to write the best story of your life.”
— Andee Reilly, author of Satisfaction
“I knew the moment I found her website that I needed and wanted to work with her. I think we got each other from our first emails. The coaching was invaluable. If you are looking for someone to help you bring more life to your story, then you have found the person for you. I used ALL of her services and couldn’t have more pleased with everything. The support was quick, helpful, and so personal. I can’t wait for our next project!”
— Dawn D’Antoinette, author of Happiness
“Megan is thorough, intuitive, knowledgeable, on-point, and generally wonderful. She not only helps you make your book fantastically better, but she also makes you a better writer.
If you aren’t working with her yet, you should. I don’t know where I’d be without her. Oh, yeah... probably publishing a crappy book. Haha!”
— Audra York, happy client