Author Topic: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?  (Read 2022 times)  

Offline N. D. Iverson

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Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« on: May 18, 2017, 09:29:09 PM »
I am on the home stretch for finishing the first in my UF series and I'm worried that I won't hit my self-imposed word count target. I've picked a range of 50,000-55,000 words and it looks like I'll be lucky if I hit 50,000 words. I choose that range because that seems like a standard number for the indie UF being released right now. And because I'll be enrolling it in KU and heard that shorter works aren't really worth putting in KU due to the low kindle page count and price per page.

Once I've finished writing and editing it, if I find I still can't hit that number, would a developmental editor help? I hate it when books are obviously padded with unnecessary details/scenes just to up word count, so I refuse to do that to the tune of thousands of words.

If you think a developmental editor would help at that stage, do you have any that you'd recommend? (for UF)

Thanks!
« Last Edit: May 24, 2017, 08:55:42 PM by N. D. Iverson »

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Online Dennis Chekalov

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2017, 10:16:28 PM »
Quote
would a developmental editor help?
I'd say yes.
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Offline Allison Erin Wright

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2017, 11:00:43 PM »
Once I've finished writing and editing it, if I find I still can't hit that number, would a developmental editor help? I hate it when books are obviously padded with unnecessary details/scenes just to up word count, so I refuse to do that to the tune of thousands of words.

Most definitely. A developmental editor would pinpoint specific elements you can add or expand on to improve the story--not to pad it. A good developmental editor is constantly on the lookout both for unnecessary parts to be omitted and for what's missing. Focusing on the latter while remaining vigilant about the former will help increase your word count without weakening your story.

Offline kathrynoh

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 11:02:48 PM »
A development edit might help especially if you aren't sure if you are hitting the right things structure-wise. Before doing that though, I'd suggest you check out Jami Gold's web site (jamigold.com) - she has a bunch of beat sheets to use for structuring novels. If you dig around, there is even some stuff on using beat sheets for revising existing work. Definitely worth doing to make sure the pacing etc is working.

Offline JessicaPAuthor

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2017, 02:27:07 PM »
Absolutely. Hiring an editor has made a world of difference in my writing. My latest release was supposed to be a novella - in the 20-40k range - but after a couple amazing brainstorming sessions with my editor, I was able to turn into a full-length 80k novel (I write contemporary romance). Just be sure to communicate to him/her what your objective is (i.e., add some length to your book for x,y, and z reasons). I've had a lot of luck chatting with my editor on the phone versus just emailing, especially if you plan to brainstorm together. Good luck!
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Offline P.J. Post

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2017, 05:25:19 PM »
Yes.
Always.
Everyone.
(Sorry people who say you don't need one, your books would almost certainly be better for it. They wouldn't necessarily sell more [and I realize for many, this is the rub] but they would be better books. Just ask Stephen King or Grisham or Tolkien or Atwood or Heinlein or Hemingway or Nora - see Maxwell Perkins.)

The caveat is you have to find a really really good one, one that gets what you're doing, what you're trying to say and how you're trying to say it. Their job is to make you the best you they can, however, if it's not a good fit, it can be a disaster and even ruin your book, especially if the editor is working at cross purposes. I was super lucky and found a great editor for my first series.

The real question: is it worth the investment relative to where you are in your writing career or important for reaching your publishing goals? Unfortunately, no one else can answer this question for you.  :(

Offline Created4Life

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2017, 08:00:55 PM »
I want to piggyback off the OP.

How in the world does someone starting out afford a developmental editor. It seems that most charge around $10/page. What! Really? I can't see paying $2,700 for a developmental edit of my work. I don't think I'll ever see that in return.

Someone set me straight in my thinking, please.

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2017, 08:19:19 PM »
I want to piggyback off the OP.

How in the world does someone starting out afford a developmental editor. It seems that most charge around $10/page. What! Really? I can't see paying $2,700 for a developmental edit of my work. I don't think I'll ever see that in return.

Someone set me straight in my thinking, please.

Short answer is basically saving up for it.  That said, most editors charge by word, not by page.  $2,700 would be high unless you have a huge huge book.  I had a developmental edit done on my first novel.  It was $995 for a combination developmental and copy edit.  Still a hefty chunk of change and not in most people's budget.

In my case, I felt it was needed as I'd been "revising" the novel for six years and was stuck.  I needed some outside input and I do believe it helped make the novel stronger in the end.  But I also was sorely lacking in beta readers.  If I'd had 3-4 organic betas at the time, instead of one or if paid beta readers had been bigger then, I'd have gone that route over developmental editing first. 

If someone has the funds to pay for it, great, but if money is tight, I'd save the funds for elsewhere.

For the OP, it sounds like you're finishing up the first draft?  I'd worry about that and then doing your own round of revisions before wondering if you need help making your word count.  I suspect you'll find you did just fine once you get through the revision process, and maybe getting a beta reader to give it a going over.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 08:38:16 PM by Anma Natsu »

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2017, 08:22:15 PM »
I want to piggyback off the OP.

How in the world does someone starting out afford a developmental editor. It seems that most charge around $10/page. What! Really? I can't see paying $2,700 for a developmental edit of my work. I don't think I'll ever see that in return.

Someone set me straight in my thinking, please.

A good developmental edit will save you a ton of wasted time and effort doing stupid stuff unconsciously that sabotages the effectiveness and overall quality and appeal of your writing.

But I get you about the cost; I can't afford one, either. My substitute is to get several inexpensive paid beta reads and take their consensus opinions seriously. Critique groups and free beta reads from amazingly talented and generous people can serve the same function, and you can't beat the price. I've been the lucky recipient of a beta read that was more like a developmental edit and I will be eternally grateful to the person who did it.

Offline RedFoxUF

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2017, 08:57:54 PM »
Often writing the next book will open up some things that need to be in the previous book. I would keep going on your own for a bit longer.

Offline Kate.

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2017, 10:00:22 PM »
My last book was 53,000 words. After making the developmental editor's suggested changes, it had grown to 64,000 words.

My dev editor is a national treasure. She's .0067 per word and made hundreds of suggestions through the manuscript, all of them clearly explained and with suggestions for how to fix the problem.

From my experience, if an editor is charging per page, they're marketing more towards the traditional publishing demographic. (Authors who want to clean their manuscript up before sending it to an agent.) Per word is more normal for editors catering to indie authors, and they generally have more reasonable prices. I don't think I've ever paid more than $1,200 to edit a novel, and I use dev editing, line editing and proofreading.

Online Dennis Chekalov

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2017, 03:47:38 AM »
How in the world does someone starting out afford a developmental editor.
It seems that most charge around $10/page. What!

You can hire a paid beta reader.
I charge $2 per 1k words, for example,
and you get ~250 words of critique per your 1k words.
There are beta readers who charge even less.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2017, 03:49:16 AM by Dennis Chekalov »
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Offline Dolphin

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2017, 04:17:00 AM »
My last book was 53,000 words. After making the developmental editor's suggested changes, it had grown to 64,000 words.

My dev editor is a national treasure. She's .0067 per word and made hundreds of suggestions through the manuscript, all of them clearly explained and with suggestions for how to fix the problem.

Ah, but did she charge you for 53k words or 64k?

Offline A J Sika

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2017, 05:28:42 AM »
When I was writing my first book I consulted a development editor even though I had several beta readers. If I had given her my full MS, she would've charged me $1200 dollars but I was just starting out and didn't have the budget for such a thing. She gave me an alternative - write down a 1-2k synopsis listing down everything that happens and she'll analyze that for just $50.

Best $50 I ever spent.

Just from looking at the synopsis, she figured out plotting issues, some character issues that I hadn't even noticed, things I needed to research more about etc. The notes she gave me were even more extensive than the synopsis. Following her advice, made my book much stronger and to this day, 13 books later, some of my readers still think of it as their favorite of my books.

Right now, I'm confident enough in my understanding of my genre that I don't feel I need a DE but for a first book, I'd say yes. Talk to someone who understands your genre, the tropes that readers respond to etc. You might be lucky and get a deal like mine. If you can't find one, then consider using a critique group (made of experienced writers who write in your genre) rather than beta-readers because they won't just tell you what's wrong, they'll also tell you why it's wrong. You can find them on places such as Scribophile
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Offline Kerrigan_Marie

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2017, 05:49:26 AM »
Congratulations on your progress! I'm a lurker around here, working on my first novel after not having written anything for 20 years.  It is UF as well, and my goal is to land between 75,000 and 90,000 words. I am already near 55k. I'm actually using a book coach who edits my work. I started working with my coach when I took Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash's Story Genius course last fall. Then I moved into monthly book coaching through Author Accelerator. I pay $200/month to submit 10 pages a week. One of my pages I submit is a scene card for my next submission. I get feedback on the pages I submitted and what I'm planning on writing for the next week.  By the end of the month I have 36 pages with developmental and grammar edits back and 4 scene cards with feedback that keeps me and my story on track.   I love my coach and back up coach (for when she takes vacation). Before I started working with a coach/editor I was floundering around trying to even get started. The service has been invaluable to me. I'll be continuing on with my coach on my next book too. I realize the cost isn't possible for everyone, I'm fortunate to be able to afford the service.


I want to piggyback off the OP.

How in the world does someone starting out afford a developmental editor. It seems that most charge around $10/page. What! Really? I can't see paying $2,700 for a developmental edit of my work. I don't think I'll ever see that in return.

Someone set me straight in my thinking, please.

I work a full time job that pays me well. Instead of taking a vacation or buying new clothes/shoes, I chose to take a writing workshop and work with a coach/editor on writing my story. I believe it will save me a lot of rework and reduce the number of drafts I will need to complete.

Offline Kate.

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2017, 06:34:10 AM »
Ah, but did she charge you for 53k words or 64k?
53k. She only did one pass, but if you hire a company that does multiple passes to check your changes they normally charge a bit extra if there's a large amount of new words.

Offline Cheryl Douglas

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2017, 06:43:33 AM »
I always use a developmental editor. She just makes my writing better, and points out things I'd probably miss if I didn't have her. She also red flags areas that may have troubled me while I was writing it, reinforcing something has to change. Her comments and suggestions are always invaluable. We have worked together a long time and developed a level of trust though, and that takes time with most editors. Good luck with your book!

Offline Morgan Worth

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2017, 07:24:19 AM »
I am on the home stretch for finishing the first in my UF series and I'm worried that I won't hit my self-imposed word count target. I've picked a range of 50,000-55,000 words and it looks like I'll be lucky if I hit 50,000 words. I choose that range because that seems like a standard number for the indie UF being released right now. And because I'll be enrolling it in KU and heard that shorter works aren't really worth putting in KU due to the low kindle page count and price per page.

Once I've finished writing and editing it, if I find I still can't hit that number, would a developmental editor help? I hate it when books are obviously padded with unnecessary details/scenes just to up word count, so I refuse to do that to the tune of thousands of words.

If you think a developmental editor would help at that stage, do you have any that you'd recommend? (for UF)

Thanks!

I wouldn't say everyone or all books need a developmental editor, but in this case, it absolutely ought to help. He or she should be able to spot any underdeveloped characters, subplots, etc.
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Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2017, 07:28:54 AM »
Yes. It's worth it to take the time, especially with a first in series, to make sure it's a strong as it can be so it makes readers want to read more in the series.

Offline SA_Soule

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2017, 12:08:10 PM »
Most definitely. A developmental editor would pinpoint specific elements you can add or expand on to improve the story--not to pad it. A good developmental editor is constantly on the lookout both for unnecessary parts to be omitted and for what's missing. Focusing on the latter while remaining vigilant about the former will help increase your word count without weakening your story.

This is good advice. You should work with an editor, and at least 2 to 3 critique partners to further polish the storyline before publishing.

Offline SA_Soule

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2017, 12:09:14 PM »
I want to piggyback off the OP.

How in the world does someone starting out afford a developmental editor. It seems that most charge around $10/page. What! Really? I can't see paying $2,700 for a developmental edit of my work. I don't think I'll ever see that in return.

Someone set me straight in my thinking, please.

That is a bit steep! I've never been quoted that much, but I'm sure some DE's would be willing to work with a writer on pricing.

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2017, 01:06:01 PM »
Editor: N.D., I've read your book. Nice job, by the way.

ND: Gee, thanks.

Ed: Right. So, you want to increase the word count without just padding, yes?

ND: Exactly!

Ed: Have you considered adding a subplot?

ND: Well, yeah.

Ed: No really. Take some time to think of a subplot that you could weave into your storyline. Check out this article or search for others.
 

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Offline Ava_Red

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2017, 01:50:33 PM »
I'm all for getting a developmental edit to help strengthen your project and identify ways to expand on your story. I offer that service myself. Having said that, a less expensive alternative would be to do a chapter by chapter summary (being sure to keep it short) and to hand that over to a developmental editor. The volume of material to go through would be less. The feedback you get might not be as accurate since they wouldn't be getting the nuances of how your book was written, but if the person was game, you could provide them with both a summary and the actual manuscript so that they could go read the full length if they had questions.


Offline C. Gockel

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2017, 02:23:12 PM »
Be careful with a developmental editor. I had a friend whose book was basically blasted by a developmental editor for "having no real plot" and no "dramatic irony." She thought she had a good story, so published it anyway ... and knocked it out of the $uck!ng ballpark. Her books are still among the best sellers on Amazon.

Do you have betas you really trust? Show it to them. If they ever say, "This scene is boring," believe them. But you want someone invested in your work, who "gets" you.



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Offline N. D. Iverson

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Re: Would I benefit from a developmental editor?
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2017, 05:09:48 PM »
Yes.
Always.
Everyone.
(Sorry people who say you don't need one, your books would almost certainly be better for it. They wouldn't necessarily sell more [and I realize for many, this is the rub] but they would be better books. Just ask Stephen King or Grisham or Tolkien or Atwood or Heinlein or Hemingway or Nora - see Maxwell Perkins.)

The caveat is you have to find a really really good one, one that gets what you're doing, what you're trying to say and how you're trying to say it. Their job is to make you the best you they can, however, if it's not a good fit, it can be a disaster and even ruin your book, especially if the editor is working at cross purposes. I was super lucky and found a great editor for my first series.

The real question: is it worth the investment relative to where you are in your writing career or important for reaching your publishing goals? Unfortunately, no one else can answer this question for you.  :(

Looks like I have a pro/con list to compile!

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