Author Topic: If you outline your stories/novels, then what's the point in hiring a dev editor  (Read 1408 times)  

Offline marissa_lopez

  • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
  • **
  • Posts: 194
    • View Profile
I realize that not everyone here outlines but I have lurked kboards and there is a lot of emphasis on outlining for those that do, this includes: books, courses, and youtube videos that people post as outline resources. I personally don't see the point of hiring a developmental editor if one already outlines their stories, whether it be before or after writing their first draft. You're already paying for books and courses on outlining, so why spend the money on a dev editor?

I could understand if the writer was completely new to the genre, then yes hiring a dev editor that specifies in that genre would definitely be worth the investment.


KBoards.com

  • Advertisement
  • ***

    Online Decon

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5276
      • View Profile
      • Declan Conner, Blog
    It's not obligatory for anyone to have a development edit, but one can help wherever you are in your writing career. It's a question of choice. One thing is for sure, an outline isn't prose and writing craft, all it is, is structure.

    I've outlined a trilogy and haven't paid for any how to books. I didn't use software, but it was quite a lengthy outline.

    I wrote a blurb for each as I envisioned the story. I also determined the theme for each book.

    I expanded that to 3x 2 page synopsis to include the endings.

    Then I made a character list and backgrounds, together with what arcs they would have, if any. Over the three books there are around 20 characters, even a dog and differing POVs in some chapters.

    I created a map of the world I envisioned after researching political, racial statistics and outcomes of sea level changes in the country.

    Then I carried out research on the subjects involved in the story, including the US constitution, and copied and pasted the links.

    I have an ebook template I always use with sixty chapters laid out to give me a 90,000 word book at an average of 1,500 words per chapter, and within each of the book templates, I marked out in red where I wanted the inciting incident by and the mid-point, then the end of the first act, then the end of the 2nd act and the beginning of the 3rd act.

    The first two books, I did short paras of the story progression in each chapter, but I was lazy with the third book, which I've struggled finishing, having 17 chapters to go.

    The first two have been to a development editor, and so will the third when completed this month. All the outline has done is to help me write all three books on just over 4 months and to get my facts straight within a three act structure.

    I don't care how you outline or how long you've been writing,(in my case 10 years) the best laid plans need a professional eye to make sure you have not erred by being too close to the story and characters. At the very least you need beta readers, but they won't be as thorough. As indie authors we don't have a literary agent who would do it for you to make the story the best it can be before trying to sell it to a publisher, so if you like, the development editor stands in their shoes

    The two books that I had to a developement editor, following recommendations, both of them, I moved chapters around and deleted one completely. Others I took scenes out and merged with others. There were quite few instances of changes that were suggested to improve pace and for consistency of character actions and dialogue that was out of their character. Parts of scenes I could make active where I could improve by using show instead of tell, etc etc.

    Long and short is, the books are 100% improved by having a development editor go through them. Below is the link for my development editor who provided an excellent in depth development edit

    https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,326629.0.html
    .
    « Last Edit: January 10, 2021, 06:21:44 pm by Decon »


    Scorpion ebooks: Full length  thrillers with a sting in the tale. All enrolled in KU & Prime.
    Declan Conner | blog

    Offline jaglionpress

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 136
      • View Profile
      • Jaglion Press
    My understanding (not having used one) is that a developmental editor helps you pinpoint areas in your novel that don't work for the reader, and helps you figure out how to fix them. Pacing issues, plot logic holes, characters you may find appealing but don't necessarily work for your target audience, things like that. Outlining may or may not prevent you from making the kinds of mistakes that a developmental editor can help you fix.

    To me, outlining has become kind of a "research and development" thing, a period of mentally trying out different scenarios to see what works. Not putting enough time or energy into figuring those things out seems to come back and bite me, but sometimes it's unavoidable. I literally went from polishing my first space opera book up through the end of October to jumping into the sequel in November with a very fuzzy outline, and I feel like it definitely put me at a disadvantage.

    That said, there are people who can improv their way through a whole book by holding a handful of basic concepts (characters, plot points etc) in their heads, and get bored with a story if they outline it in too much detail. I leaned more that way when I was younger, and only became an outliner over time. One of the trickiest things about writing is figuring out what works for your process. Learning about other people's methods can be helpful, but it can be a lot of trial and error to figure out what your own method is like.
    Mel Dunay | Jaglion Press

    Offline ShayneRutherford

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5345
    • Toronto, Ontario
      • View Profile
      • My Website
    I think the idea of a dev editor is that you hire them to make sure you didn't leave any plot holes or other flaws that, as the author, you might have missed because you're too close to the story. Or for things like pacing, that might have felt fine to you writing it, but to a reader might feel rushed or way too slow. Stuff like that.
             

    Offline Usedtoposthere

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 6304
      • View Profile
    Basically, a developmental editor helps you see where your vision of the characters isn't coming through on the page the way it is in your mind. And as others have said, plot holes, etc. It doesn't really have to do with outlining or not.

    It's not required. It's helpful, though, even if you don't end up doing it on all books. I've had a high-end dev editor on 5 books. (First one after I'd written maybe 10? books. Had that level of editing because it was a trad deal.) Learned a lot.

    Offline Crystal_

    • Status: Dostoevsky-10015
    • ******
    • Posts: 3181
    • Gender: Female
    • Portland, OR
      • View Profile
    An outline in a theory. A manuscript puts the theory into practice.

    Just cause it worked in theory doesn't mean it works in practice (and that's assuming it did work in theory).

    Dev edits are great for new writers. They can be expensive and time consuming so many writers skip the process. Which can work if you are one of those people who can see the whole story before you write. (It's rare but it happens). Or if you act as your own dev editor and do a thorough critique of what is and isn't working.

    That will be way less efficient than hiring someone, but it is cheaper.

    So many indie books would be improved by a round of dev editing. It's a shame it's not a more common practice/the market doesn't seem to reward the extra investment.

    New writers will improve so much faster with solid feedback and a dev edit is the best place to get that. Do it for your first few books if you can afford it. If you can't, do a free or cheap version like a critique swap with another author.

    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    Basically, a developmental editor helps you see where your vision of the characters isn't coming through on the page the way it is in your mind.

    How does the dev editor help you bring the vision of your character in your mind on the page?

    And as others have said, plot holes, etc. It doesn't really have to do with outlining or not.

    It's not required. It's helpful, though, even if you don't end up doing it on all books. I've had a high-end dev editor on 5 books. (First one after I'd written maybe 10? books. Had that level of editing because it was a trad deal.) Learned a lot.

    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    An outline in a theory. A manuscript puts the theory into practice.

    Just cause it worked in theory doesn't mean it works in practice (and that's assuming it did work in theory).

    Dev edits are great for new writers. They can be expensive and time consuming so many writers skip the process. Which can work if you are one of those people who can see the whole story before you write. (It's rare but it happens). Or if you act as your own dev editor and do a thorough critique of what is and isn't working.

    That will be way less efficient than hiring someone, but it is cheaper.
    I definitely can't afford it even when I start working again, I also don't want to be taken advantage of by a dev as a new writer either.

    So many indie books would be improved by a round of dev editing.

    I definitely want to do whatever I can to improve my draft once I start writing, but wouldn't it be easier if I just showed my outline to a dev editor instead of a draft?

    It's a shame it's not a more common practice/the market doesn't seem to reward the extra investment.

    New writers will improve so much faster with solid feedback and a dev edit is the best place to get that. Do it for your first few books if you can afford it. If you can't, do a free or cheap version like a critique swap with another author.

    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    thanks for the reccomendation, will bookmark editor, I will have to see if she edits my genre

    Offline Usedtoposthere

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 6304
      • View Profile
    Say you think your guy is funny, but he is coming off in some line as insulting or obnoxious. Or you think this paragraph is a subtle clue to your mystery, but it is either too subtle and nobody will get it, or not nearly subtle enough. Of course, all that depends on having a really good editor who knows your genre. And you still have to decide whether to accept ther suggestion or not.

    Online Decon

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5276
      • View Profile
      • Declan Conner, Blog
    Someone said they don't want to be taken advantage of by a development editor as a new author. I think the same goes with all service providers that you arrange services with.

    I've been caught out in the past with a standard edit, so I would say be careful with all services. Check them out, look for recommendations. Make sure they're a good fit.

    11 years ago, I used mentor/development editorial service from a company called  bubblecow in the UK. I think they're still around. Basically they did the honorable thing and didn't take my money after I sent a sample. It must have been crap. She did however say that my writing would suit the thriller genre and to join a writers' site to exchange critique. Best advice ever.

    1 year ago on this site, and wider searches of the Internet, development editors were few and far between, and the ones that provided the service were way more expensive than a standard edit.

    Things seem to have changed, maybe as a result of Covid and possibly with agents unable to sell books just now, so many are freelancing development editing and prices have reduced significantly. Its still a significant expense as it doesn't replace a standard edit for grammar and spelling, but if you can afford the service, go for it, especially as a new author. Your first book can define your career and can either make or break you.

    Natalia who I'm  currently using is offering two services, the first one is a full development edit and the second one is a beta read with comments per chapter at an affordable price of just under 100 dollars.  Her post on here is in the link below. I have no connection with her other than for her services.

    https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,326629.0.html
    « Last Edit: January 11, 2021, 08:06:36 am by Decon »


    Scorpion ebooks: Full length  thrillers with a sting in the tale. All enrolled in KU & Prime.
    Declan Conner | blog

    Offline Crystal_

    • Status: Dostoevsky-10015
    • ******
    • Posts: 3181
    • Gender: Female
    • Portland, OR
      • View Profile
    It's natural to not want to overpay. I'm looking for German translators right now and talk about the ultimate situation where I don't know what I'm getting... I don't read/speak German. I have to rely entirely on other people's honesty/ recommendations.

    A developmental edit is expensive and while this is a business, and you should be prepared to invest in your career, you can't afford what you can't afford. Try some cheaper (or free) time intensive alternatives like swapping critiques with another author in your genre. That will also help you improve, since you'll improve your ability to notice problem areas.

    Your belief that if it's right in your outline, it's right is a bit concerning. An outline it's not a novel. Once you have the manuscript written, I suggest you forget about the outline. If you need to break down the structure again to find the problems, do that. But let go of whatever you initially planned. It no longer matters and holding onto it will not help your writing.

    Offline Bite the Dusty

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 173
    • I was being patient. But it took too long.
      • View Profile
    What Crystal said.

    It's time consuming to swap but invaluable. My first attempt at a fantasy trilogy might be on Amazon collecting royalties instead of in a drawer collecting dust if I had given each draft to my writer friends as I finished them. I thought I saw my work clearly enough to hold it back until it was finished and perfect, and that was a lesson that cost me something I value more than money.

    Offline ImaWriter

    • Status: Scheherazade-10012
    • *****
    • Posts: 1326
    • Gender: Female
    • Canada
      • View Profile
    but wouldn't it be easier if I just showed my outline to a dev editor instead of a draft?

    No. This would be like an artist who does oil or watercolour painting. They draw a pencil sketch outline first and show it to someone for their opinion. It's a great sketch, so they are told. But it's just a sketch, and while that may take some technique and artistry, the true art in this case is the painting. And it's the execution of that that really matters. No one has a crystal ball to know what the final piece will look like. And the painter's talent is in question until the piece is finished and critiqued.

    Offline jaglionpress

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 136
      • View Profile
      • Jaglion Press
    No. This would be like an artist who does oil or watercolour painting. They draw a pencil sketch outline first and show it to someone for their opinion. It's a great sketch, so they are told. But it's just a sketch, and while that may take some technique and artistry, the true art in this case is the painting. And it's the execution of that that really matters. No one has a crystal ball to know what the final piece will look like. And the painter's talent is in question until the piece is finished and critiqued.

    Agreed. I've run across authors online who said they had extremely detailed outlines, that were more like very sketchy first drafts with a total wordcount maybe half or a third of the target length for the final book, and maybe, if money was no object or there was some timing issue that would prevent them from working with a developmental editor on the final draft, I could see taking that kind of outline/sketchy first draft to a developmental editor. But it would be a very unusual set of circumstances.

    Mel Dunay | Jaglion Press

    Online Decon

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5276
      • View Profile
      • Declan Conner, Blog
    I think many development editors would be open to looking at all aspects of the process of creating a book as mentors, if asked, but of course it would cost. Many freelance development editors are young though qualified interns for literary agents, even if they don't say so in offering services to authors. Most don't get paid as interns and bills have to be paid, so many have two jobs. They're the ones that are the gatekeepers starting with the blurb, synopsis, and then the sample chapter and reads of the full requests, before it ever gets to the literary agent. All they earn is commission and it can take years to get their first check. I could see them agreeing to a price for looking at a blurb, synopsis, and then a detailed outline and offer critique from a different POV on the nuts a bolts to make sure what is on offer has legs for reader expectations for the genre. Just saying. The nuts and bolts are all parts of how you later develop an MS
    « Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 02:03:52 pm by Decon »


    Scorpion ebooks: Full length  thrillers with a sting in the tale. All enrolled in KU & Prime.
    Declan Conner | blog

    Online Decon

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5276
      • View Profile
      • Declan Conner, Blog
    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7603tjE0Bw" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7603tjE0Bw</a>


    Scorpion ebooks: Full length  thrillers with a sting in the tale. All enrolled in KU & Prime.
    Declan Conner | blog

    Offline Corvid

    • Status: Jane Austen-10011
    • ***
    • Posts: 392
      • View Profile
    If I was a rich indie I might give hiring a dev editor a try. But, since I'm not, I can't justify the expense.


    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    It's natural to not want to overpay. I'm looking for German translators right now and talk about the ultimate situation where I don't know what I'm getting... I don't read/speak German. I have to rely entirely on other people's honesty/ recommendations.

    A developmental edit is expensive and while this is a business, and you should be prepared to invest in your career, you can't afford what you can't afford. Try some cheaper (or free) time intensive alternatives like swapping critiques with another author in your genre. That will also help you improve, since you'll improve your ability to notice problem areas.

    Your belief that if it's right in your outline, it's right is a bit concerning. I'm usually a pantser who tries to outline and I still find it frustrating, I usually have the story in my head and write it out An outline it's not a novel. Once you have the manuscript written, I suggest you forget about the outline.
    My comment about outlines addresses users on here who swear by outlining and planning their stories in order to help their careers

    If you need to break down the structure again to find the problems, do that. But let go of whatever you initially planned. It no longer matters and holding onto it will not help your writing.
    « Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 04:32:18 pm by marissa_lopez »

    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    No. This would be like an artist who does oil or watercolour painting. They draw a pencil sketch outline first and show it to someone for their opinion. It's a great sketch, so they are told. But it's just a sketch, and while that may take some technique and artistry, the true art in this case is the painting. And it's the execution of that that really matters. No one has a crystal ball to know what the final piece will look like. And the painter's talent is in question until the piece is finished and critiqued.

    As a pantser trying to be an outliner I get that, my question addresses writers on here who swear by outlining

    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    If I was a rich indie I might give hiring a dev editor a try. But, since I'm not, I can't justify the expense.

    If I was a self published author who was already making money from selling books, but my latest book or series did not do so well, I could totally understand why they would invest in hiring a dev editor. I'm a new writer, and for my personal financial situation I don't think it's worth the risk wasting money unless my dad was Stephen King

    Offline Crystal_

    • Status: Dostoevsky-10015
    • ******
    • Posts: 3181
    • Gender: Female
    • Portland, OR
      • View Profile
    If I was a self published author who was already making money from selling books, but my latest book or series did not do so well, I could totally understand why they would invest in hiring a dev editor. I'm a new writer, and for my personal financial situation I don't think it's worth the risk wasting money unless my dad was Stephen King

    It's an investment in your skills as a writer.

    It's only a waste of money the way taking a class is.

    It's not necessarily going to make you more money directly. It's not supposed to make you more money.

    It will help make your book better and it will help make you a better writer, which will help make you more money, but only if you do everything else right too.

    But really, if you're strapped, do a few critique swaps. You'll pay more in sweat but you'll learn a lot from both giving and receiving feedback.

    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7603tjE0Bw" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7603tjE0Bw</a>

    Thanks for the video! Very helpful, I heard of these editing tips before but it's different having it spelled out for you

    Offline marissa_lopez

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 194
      • View Profile
    It's an investment in your skills as a writer.

    It's only a waste of money the way taking a class is.

    It's not necessarily going to make you more money directly. It's not supposed to make you more money.

    It will help make your book better and it will help make you a better writer, which will help make you more money, but only if you do everything else right too.

    But really, if you're strapped, do a few critique swaps. You'll pay more in sweat but you'll learn a lot from both giving and receiving feedback.

    After a lot of thought and considering the replies to this post, I have decided that I will have someone look at it, I can't say for sure if they will be a dev editor because of my budget, but as you said, I do believe that on top of doing everything else right(in my case that would be marketing, self edits, mailing lists, etc) having a polished book will increase my odds. I would rather have someone not like my book because it wasn't their preference, not because of unprofessionalism. It's really all about finding a balance between getting things published and perfecting it enough so that it's not stuck in limbo

    Offline Sierra Glass

    • Status: Dr. Seuss-10022
    • *
    • Posts: 2
    • I'll sleep when I'm dead.
      • View Profile
    Say you think your guy is funny, but he is coming off in some line as insulting or obnoxious. Or you think this paragraph is a subtle clue to your mystery, but it is either too subtle and nobody will get it, or not nearly subtle enough.

    THIS. The readers can't get in my head. My developmental editor has helped so much I am horrified that I almost didn't use one for this debut book. She started when I was about half way through and the second half has gone so much better just from having her feedback from the first half. Now when I go back to edit, I have guidance and new ideas and know what I need to do to get each character on their arc so they all move smoothly through the book.
    𝓢𝓲𝓮𝓻𝓻𝓪 𝓖𝓵𝓪𝓼𝓼

    KBoards.com

    • Advertisement
    • ***