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Developmental Editing

A developmental edit is a good option if you’re looking for more in-depth consultation on big-picture issues: paragraph-, chapter-, and book-wide structure and organization; themes, theses, concepts, and subjects; voice and tone; subheading structure and titling; etc.
In fiction—and often narrative nonfiction—the issues may also include plot, dialogue, characterization, point of view, pacing, suspense and conflict, and more. There is no one-size-fits-all in developmental editing: All books and authors have different needs. But what distinguishes a developmental edit from any other is the level of constructive, critical insight the editor provides.
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In dev editing, we come in, look at what’s there, ask a lot of questions, analyze potential problems and areas for improvement, and suggest solutions. Sometimes these insights are targeted and specific (e.g., “These two paragraphs are written nearly verbatim three chapters earlier and seem to fit better there, where they clearly demonstrate the subject of the chapter, than here, where they read tangentially,” or “This is a great case study, but it might support the thesis of this chapter more effectively if X, Y, and Z,” or “It’s not entirely clear why this character is doing what he’s doing or what’s at stake—have you thought about X, Y, or Z as a possible remedy?”). Sometimes the insights are broader observations about, say, chapter-wide repetition or unusual shifts in tone and point of view. Sometimes we might suggest deleting content that reads redundantly, or moving it elsewhere in the book. Developmental editing rarely includes extensive rewriting on the editor’s part (that’s generally the purview of the author or his or her ghostwriter), but it’s not at all unusual for us to target sentences and offer recommendations for specific sentence-level rewrites, in order to demonstrate a more overarching suggestion, or to write a sentence that better ties together two paragraphs.

The developmental editing process is split into two main parts: (1) the in-depth editorial letter of analysis and insight (~8–12+ pp., single spaced), and (2) marginal notes in the manuscript that highlight further, more specific opportunities for revision.

Manuscript Evaluation & Ghostwriting

Like the developmental editorial letter, above, but shorter (3–4 pp., single spaced) and more of a summation. Manuscript evaluations include (1) a list of the 3–4 most important strengths and 3–4 most important weaknesses of the manuscript (2) a 1–1.5 page analysis of those strengths and weaknesses, and (3) 1–1.5 pages of recommendations based on those strengths and weaknesses.
The manuscript evaluation is valuable on its own, but if you’re considering ghostwriting, it also acts as the very first step in that process, because it’s a tool that helps us determine what shape your manuscript is in (if you have one yet, that is) and how much work it needs to get the attention it deserves in the marketplace. If we feel upon evaluation that we’re the right ghostwriter for your book,
we’ll also include a proposal that outlines scope, timeline, and payment terms.


  • WOW!! . . . AWESOME. Thank you for providing such a clear [idea] of where everything stands with each piece of the chapter.

    Anne Bunce
    Anne BunceExecutive Editor, Six Red Marbles
  • Your gifts are truly unique. I especially value the thorough way you can work a creative process . . . [and] your ability to do what many creative people can’t—put on your hard hat, roll up your sleeves every day, and deliver on time with consistent excellence.

    Ted Beasley
    Ted BeasleyEmergent Execs
  • I am getting very excited at how close this is and how far it has come. . . . You are really good at what you do. . . . I've learned a lot about editing and writing from this and really appreciate everything you've done here.

    James Boileau
    James BoileauAuthor

Line Editing & Copyediting

The copyedit is primarily a technical edit, concerned mostly with spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, and stylistic consistency—the kinds of things that conform the manuscript to US publishing standards. A line edit enters the realm of substantive editing, which involves streamlining and polishing prose for greater clarity, flow, or conciseness.
Line editing often addresses:

  • echoed words and phrases
  • awkward/clunky prose
  • especially unusual or inconsistent tone
  • confusing passages
  • grammatical miscues
  • word choice
  • transitions
  • ambiguity
  • wordiness
  • repetitive passages
  • areas that need further clarification from the author

Launch Edit

A launch edit is a risk-free edit for new clients in order to test-run the editing process before committing to a further edit, and it’s what we generally recommend at the beginning. It’s a sort of advanced sample edit where we dig in deeply to your first fifteen pages (up to 3,750 words) at the developmental, substantive, and copyediting levels.

Our hunch is that after you get your hands on fifteen pages of deep edits and commentary, you’ll be eager to move forward with a fuller edit.

Or it may inspire you to hold off on hiring an editor while you take the suggestions you see and apply them to other parts of your manuscript. Or the launch edit may give you a clear idea of what you’re not looking for.

In any case, there’s a thirty-day money-back guarantee: If you feel in your gut that the launch edit didn’t help you move forward with your manuscript or provide constructive insight, just e-mail us and we’ll refund the money, no questions asked.

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