A writer needs to get their manuscript developmentally edited prior to publication
Photo from Canva

“I’m going to get my book traditionally published, so I don’t need to worry about a developmental editor.”

That statement, while once true, is no longer as accurate as we thought. During the long months of the pandemic many people turned to their computers to write the book they had been thinking about writing . . . when they had the time. Suddenly all those drafts are making their way to agents and to publishers filling their inboxes. How can any one manuscript stand out in the crowd?

You’ve got to polish your manuscript. A first draft should never be queried, however, with the sheer amount of queries now, for yours to stand out, it’s got to look great right from that first submission. Publishers will want to do the least amount they have to in getting your book to press. You’ve got to invest in yourself and your story.

A reason people want to pursue traditional publishing is because hybrid publishing can be cost restrictive. You also want a wider distribution than just uploading to Amazon. So, what do prices look like? The cost of a developmental editor can start at $0.05 a word. If your manuscript is 50,000 words, prepare to pay at least $2,500 (plus GST if you’re in Canada) for a developmental edit.

What is a Developmental Edit?

Developmental editing, also known as substantive editing, or content editing is an evaluation of the manuscript to identify what it needs, whether it’s changes, additions, or deletions to be ready for publishing.

How Do I Find a Developmental Editor?

Find a developmental editor that understands your ideal client and communicates well.
Photo from Canva

There are a lot of different services that will connect you to a developmental editor, but don’t shy away from doing some leg work. You’ll want someone who has great communication, an understanding of your ideal audience, and of course someone you can afford!

Can I get a Friend to do my Developmental Edit?

When I self-published my books on Amazon years ago in what I call my Do-What-I-Say-And-Not-What-I-Did stage, I “developmentally edited” my first book and had three friends “developmentally edit” my second book. While I appreciated the time and effort my friends put in to making my book better than it was, it wasn’t enough. Yes, they were my ideal reader, but they had bias. Friends are less likely to tell their friend if something needs to be fixed. If we’re being honest, we may have a hard time accepting a correction from a friend, especially if it’s something we love and don’t want to change. It’ll be hard to accept suggestions from an editor, but at least they’re the professional.

I Don’t Have the Money to Pay for these Edits

Writers need to manage their expecations in terms of costs they'll incur while writing their book, including paying for a developmental edit.
Photo from Canva

Look, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, nor do I want to discourage anyone from their dream. Writers need to be realistic with their expectations. You could upload a first or second draft that’s been edited by a friend or your mom (my mom was a shark in terms of finding everything wrong with my stuff!) onto Amazon, but is that what you want? A hastily-written realization of a dream?

I’ve done that. There’s a reason I don’t often talk about the books I’ve self-published to Amazon. I didn’t go through the proper steps and my books aren’t the quality I wish they were. All I could think about was my name on the spine of a book. How could I get people to read it if it’s riddled with mistakes? You know those books exist. Perhaps you’ve rolled your eyes as you read them.  Don’t be counted among them.

Okay, Kim. Get To Your Pitch

I always recommend a manuscript assessment before a developmental edit with me. A manuscript assessment is a high-level review of your draft. With that, I will be able to identify areas that you can address before moving on to a developmental edit. When we move to that stage, the cost of the manuscript assessment will then be taken from the total cost of the developmental edit, saving you money.

Are you ready for a manuscript assessment? Contact me today and we’ll get started.