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Discussion Starter #1
I written a number of books in several different genres and never felt the need for a development editor but this book has got me stumped.

I finished it and went back to polish it before I sent it to a editor for a final edit but when I when back through this one I started questioning story line characters you name it. This is the first time I've experienced that kind for reaction to a story I had written. I've been satisfied with my other books but this one has me questioning my decisions. The others have sold well I'm not big timer but I'm satisfied so I feel confident in my ability but this one has me questioning my decisions. I'm a pantser if that helps explain how I work.

Have any of you used a developmental editor and were you satisfied with their suggestions for your story?



 

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I've used a couple (especially when I first started out) and they helped immensely. They are also highly rated, talented, and expensive editors. I can't speak for anyone else but for me the limited amount of times I've used this type of editor has been helpful. I wouldn't use them for every book, nor do I plan on using one for a while. It's been on a limited basis for me because it seems to be how I get the most out of the experience. Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks it is a help. I'm surprised at how much more a developmental edit costs than a edit. It would seem to me that editing and looking at the details would take more time and effort than reading for plot and character development.

Then again that is why I used editors. I know what I can do and what I can't do well.
 

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I like to think of developmental editing like that artist who paints a picture in five minutes and then charges five hundred dollars. When someone complains that it only took them five minutes, the artist replies that it took them ten years to learn to be able to do it in five minutes.

I've been editing for eight years and I'm only now considering going into developmental editing. I do a lot of it anyway, but it would be nice to have an author WANT potentially heavy feedback rather than giving an author honest advice about how they could improve their piece while knowing they'll never implement it because their pre-order date is only three days away...
 

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I've never used one, but someone got a free sample of someone a while back and it was pretty helpful in some ways.

What is the best time to use one? Is it during the planning stage? To me, it seems like it would be. If you had an outline or something fleshed out, they could tell you whether something is really off at that stage, right? I've heard of a lot of traditional publishers working the same way.
 

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Hasbeen said:
Thanks it is a help. I'm surprised at how much more a developmental edit costs than a edit. It would seem to me that editing and looking at the details would take more time and effort than reading for plot and character development.
Stuff like line editing and copyediting is something that can be done linearly. You do a "round" where you start from the top and work your way to the bottom (typically). You rarely need to go back and reassess things unless you made a mistake or you noticed a pattern and need to change something. Some editors read the manuscript first, others don't. For the most part, a copyeditor is someone you could say no more than a single email to and they'll still do a good job. They get the manuscript, they make the changes, they send the manuscript back. Sometimes there'll be a Q&A with the author, but for the most part, it's a straight line from start to finish. Line editing can be more complex but can largely end up following that same straight line so long as major rewriting/revision isn't necessary.

This isn't so with developmental editing, which is far more invasive and far more collaborative. Developmental editing involves a lot of back and forth. The editor will need to read your manuscript at least once, sometimes multiple times, leaving notes during each read-through. Then they need to dissect your overarching ideas and concepts, figure out if they fit right, and if not, figure out a better way. A developmental editor can read each chapter several times during a dev edit, with each read coming with more notes, more changes, more questions. If the developmental editor takes on a coaching role, they'll also work with you during revision to actualize some of their suggestions with your feedback. And this developmental editor will regularly find themselves reading, say, Chapter 18, and then realizing they need to go back and re-read Chapter 5 to make sure things are connecting as they should. It's not linear. There is no straight line.

In other words, developmental editing takes a lot of time. Even if the editor in question has perfected the formula for a to-market book in your genre, actually conveying their thoughts, highlighting passages, making changes, and so on, takes time. You're paying for that time, but also for the expertise that comes along with it.
 

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Here are my 3 reasons for a developmental editor, in my opinion: 1) You're traditionally publishing and they're flipping the bill 2) Your book is really good but you just can't work it out on your own (you?) 3) You're starting out and need guidance on how to write a good book

Are we counting line editing? If so, I do that. My line editors are outstanding and they tend to add tidbits throughout suggesting developmental changes anyway. But I have the funds. It's expensive and I can understand others not using them, but I believe my books benefit a lot from line edits.

For the traditional definition of a developmental edit, where the manuscript is reviewed in depth, my experience was #3 on my 3 reason list. The one book I developmentally edited two years ago, I ended up rewriting anyway. So, perhaps the manuscript just wasn't ready yet? But, I definitely benefited from the developmental edit, sans the cost.

You said you've written a lot of books. If you sense there's something off on the plot, there probably is :(. You might want to rework the whole novel instead of hiring someone.

I think there is a place for a developmental edit, but it depends on your situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
EmberKent said:
Stuff like line editing and copyediting is something that can be done linearly. You do a "round" where you start from the top and work your way to the bottom (typically). You rarely need to go back and reassess things unless you made a mistake or you noticed a pattern and need to change something. Some editors read the manuscript first, others don't. For the most part, a copyeditor is someone you could say no more than a single email to and they'll still do a good job. They get the manuscript, they make the changes, they send the manuscript back. Sometimes there'll be a Q&A with the author, but for the most part, it's a straight line from start to finish. Line editing can be more complex but can largely end up following that same straight line so long as major rewriting/revision isn't necessary.

This isn't so with developmental editing, which is far more invasive and far more collaborative. Developmental editing involves a lot of back and forth. The editor will need to read your manuscript at least once, sometimes multiple times, leaving notes during each read-through. Then they need to dissect your overarching ideas and concepts, figure out if they fit right, and if not, figure out a better way. A developmental editor can read each chapter several times during a dev edit, with each read coming with more notes, more changes, more questions. If the developmental editor takes on a coaching role, they'll also work with you during revision to actualize some of their suggestions with your feedback. And this developmental editor will regularly find themselves reading, say, Chapter 18, and then realizing they need to go back and re-read Chapter 5 to make sure things are connecting as they should. It's not linear. There is no straight line.

In other words, developmental editing takes a lot of time. Even if the editor in question has perfected the formula for a to-market book in your genre, actually conveying their thoughts, highlighting passages, making changes, and so on, takes time. You're paying for that time, but also for the expertise that comes along with it.
This is the best explanation of how a developmental edit works that I have seen. It also helps me understand the reasoning behind the difference in pricing. There is significantly work involved. Thanks for the explanation it will help me make a decision.

As I said before I have never felt the need for a developmental edit but this book is different and I think it needs it. Someone suggested reworking it myself. I've tried and something is off. This is the first time I have written a book and felt this way about the plot and characters. I care about this one. I understand I'm not writing the next great book I view myself as a pulp fiction kind of guy but I want to get this one right.

Any more feedback would be much appreciated.
 

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There are two types of development edit.

1. An editor will act as a mentor, useful for new authors, to guide the author from inception idea to completion in all aspects of crafting.

2. An editor will take a completed manuscript and make comment within each chapter as regards voice, character development, pacing, inconsitances, continuity problems, errors of fact, plot progression, etc, with the objective of making the overall MS both more marketable and within genre expectations.

The reports should be in-depth on each chapter with suggestions and a final overview of the story.

While they might point out obvious grammatical errors, that is not within the remit of a development edit which is a different discipline.

I have used both and found them very useful, but expensive
 

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C. Gold said:
It took me a few months away from my very first project to realize why I was bogging down. Maybe you just need to take a step back for a while and come at it a bit fresher to see the trouble.
I offer this advice all the time and I'm pretty sure nobody takes it, the "Have you tried not writing the book for a while?" approach. I kinda think of it like, "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the advise to walk away from it for a while and come back to it or not working on it then trying again. I finished it several months ago and when I recently went back through it is when i realized I might need a developmental help.

So yes I've been working in a completely different genre and let sit hoping it was just the fatigue of finishing a book then going back over it to clean it up. No I think I need help this time.

My big issue is the money it's surprising how expensive developmental editors are I understand it now and why it's expensive but that doesn't change the numbers. A lot of food for thought.
 

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Hasbeen said:
I have written a number of books in several different genres and never felt the need for a development editor, but this book has got me stumped.

I finished it and went back to polish it before I sent it to a editor for a final edit, but when I went back through this one I started questioning story line, characters, you name it. This is the first time I've experienced that kind for reaction to a story I had written. I've been satisfied with my other books but this one has me questioning my decisions. The others have sold well. I'm not a big timer but I'm satisfied, so I feel confident in my ability. but Still, this one has me questioning my decisions. I'm a pantser if that helps explain how I work.

Have any of you used a developmental editor and were you satisfied with their suggestions for your story?
I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but edit your post! :D Please don't take it the wrong way. I make typos like a mad rabid animal when I am pantsing (like you), pouring chapters into a document. Promise, I will make at least one typo in this post just to be fair :)

Now, moving on. You know how editors have different packages? For my first novel I contracted the same editor twice, each time to do a different kind of editing. The first was a developmental edit (where in addition to discussing structural improvements, and pointing me to comp titles, he even wrote a full essay describing the novel from his professional PhD point of view). It was very helpful, and the novel improved tremendously. And yet, for personal reasons, I had to put off publishing at the time.

Two years later, when I decided to follow through on publishing, I contracted him to do a simple line edit, since I had tinkered quite a bit with the line-to-line of the book in those two years. At the end of that second process I felt his comments in the document were just as helpful as the first, and it kind of made me think I should have just ordered the line edit the first time -- though to be fair the book (and me as a writer) improved so much that I do not regret the early developmental help.

In a nutshell, go with the developmental editing just for the experience. You will improve as a writer, possibly meet a cool collaborator, and if the editor is competent the story will improve a lot. But don't sweet it. Perhaps leaving the book aside for a month or two will give you fresh eyes, to then develop the story yourself.

Best of luck!
 

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Hasbeen said:
I written a number of books in several different genres and never felt the need for a development editor but this book has got me stumped.

I finished it and went back to polish it before I sent it to a editor for a final edit but when I when back through this one I started questioning story line characters you name it. This is the first time I've experienced that kind for reaction to a story I had written. I've been satisfied with my other books but this one has me questioning my decisions. The others have sold well I'm not big timer but I'm satisfied so I feel confident in my ability but this one has me questioning my decisions. I'm a pantser if that helps explain how I work.

Have any of you used a developmental editor and were you satisfied with their suggestions for your story?
A friend of mine is an editor, and her critique of one of my books has changed, well, everything. I've learned so much even from that one example, I started questioning other issues, and my writing has evolved tremendously. I think it's not about being satisfied with their suggestions for one particular story. It's more about learning new things that you'll be able to use in all your future stories, not just to make them better, but to enjoy writing more, to grow as a storyteller and be able to create more complex books. The fact that you started questioning everything is not bad :) It's your subconscious pushing you toward growth and learning.
 

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Hasbeen said:
Thanks for the advise to walk away from it for a while and come back to it or not working on it then trying again. I finished it several months ago and when I recently went back through it is when i realized I might need a developmental help.

So yes I've been working in a completely different genre and let sit hoping it was just the fatigue of finishing a book then going back over it to clean it up. No I think I need help this time.

My big issue is the money it's surprising how expensive developmental editors are I understand it now and why it's expensive but that doesn't change the numbers. A lot of food for thought.
My only other suggestion is to read books in the genre to get a feel for how they flow and maybe you'll see something wrong with yours.

The good news is the book will still be there when you can afford a developmental editor. It's not going anywhere unless you don't save it on different devices and you have an oops (heaven forbid!). Keep writing and you might find your growth as an author lets you finally see where this one is failing. If not, then pay for the developmental editor.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
C. Gold said:
My only other suggestion is to read books in the genre to get a feel for how they flow and maybe you'll see something wrong with yours.

The good news is the book will still be there when you can afford a developmental editor. It's not going anywhere unless you don't save it on different devices and you have an oops (heaven forbid!). Keep writing and you might find your growth as an author lets you finally see where this one is failing. If not, then pay for the developmental editor.
Thanks for the encouragement. I will put it aside and go on with other books.
 

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I've used a DE for my books. Other than expense, it was a good experience. The editorial evaluation told me where I was weak and need shoring up in both my story and my writing, while the developmental edit took me through the manuscript without pulling punches. My advice, and it is just my advice, if you're new CAN afford one, do it. Just make sure to find a professional with a good reputation. You'll learn alot about yourself and your writing. If you're new and CAN'T afford one, don't worry about it. Get a group of people together to read your MS and give you input. Ask specific questions (eg: how would you describe X's motivations?) instead of general questions (eg: did you like X?). Basically, stay away from anything that gives you single word answers. You'll have to sift through what they give you to get what you need, but if you've asked the right questions, it can be as good or, in some cases, better than a DE.
 

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Developmental editors are expensive. The question is a cost/benefit one.

I used a development editor for my first. In hindsight, it was a waste of time and money.  The problem is that a development editor cannot guarantee the success of your novel and they may have an idea of "they think" works.  The comments I got back were stuff I already debated about it myself and just reaffirmed my instincts. It totally depends on you. Some authors need a thousand readers to read their manuscript to feel comfortable. Other need hardly anyone.

Remember, you still have to budget for marketing and at the end of the day, costly but, well-developed novel won't seel without that.

Mark
 
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