A developmental edit dives deep into your manuscript, like a workshop on story craft with your novel as the text book
You’ll get honest, professional feedback from somebody who’s seeing your story for the first time, but in addition to an editorial letter full of advice (that’s the love letter I talked about over there on the other side of the page), you’ll find specific suggestions and comments throughout the document, really digging into your work and guiding you through the edit from page to page.
When you feel like you’ve taken your story as far as you can and you’re ready for somebody to poke it and prod it and point you in new directions, a developmental edit can help you on your way towards a fantastic book that’s ready for readers.
I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the hard work you have done on my edit. I am absolutely thrilled with it; the attention to detail and depth with which you went into the manuscript left me speechless. The hashtag system is so handy and the book map made so many things clear for me. I feel like the story has been truly seen for the first time. I will recommend your work without hesitation.
What exactly is a developmental edit?
There are five things included with a developmental edit:
- Your manuscript full of margin notes via Microsoft Word’s Tracked Changes, as a Word doc and in PDF. These notes will be close-up observations and suggestions that relate to big-picture storytelling. That means you’ll see loads of specific instances of problems or areas for improvement right there on the page, within your scenes, with ideas on how you can tackle them. For example, if I think your story lacks world building or a strong sense of place, I’ll point out lines in your manuscript where you could add some lush description or anchoring details. If you’re struggling with maintaining a consistent character POV, I can point out specific moments throughout the story where POV slips or you venture into head-hopping and give suggestions on how to remedy it.
- Editorial letter in PDF usually between 20 and 30 A4 pages full of bird's eye feedback, recommendations and advice. I might tell you I find a character's actions unrealistic and lacking motivation, or that your first chapter would work better later in the story. I'll be covering story issues like structure, characterisation, pacing, dialogue, theme, world building, point of view, conflict and tension, consistency, suitability for audience, genre expectations and sensitivity concerns. Maybe some scenes feel flat because they lack tension, or the dialogue isn’t as natural or authentic as it could be. The point of a manuscript assessment is to discover what’s working, what isn’t and how to fix it so you can produce the best story you can and get it ready for your readers.
- A book map of your novel – an overview of your story broken down scene by scene, tracking plot points, character development, timeline and theme. It’s a great way to see your entire story on the page at once and can reveal problems you might not spot otherwise, like plot holes, inconsistencies, forgotten narrative arcs and superfluous characters.
- My 'Spoonful of Sugar' next steps kit with a customised work plan and tips on processing my feedback and approaching the next stage of revisions.
- Personalised reading list of novels and writing craft resources I think you’d find useful based on your manuscript. I have a big library of middle grade and YA fiction as well as hundreds of books about the art of storytelling, so I'll pull out everything I think might help you tackle the issues or areas for improvement I identify.
Siobhan has not only been a breath of fresh air, breathing new life into my first ever draft manuscript, but she’s also provided me with the impetus to get it finished. Her comments and feedback led me to make some hard decisions but these have resulted in a much better book. Here’s to the future!
What it's not
I won't make changes or deletions for you – I'll make recommendations for how you can change things and the rest is up to you! I’ll only address the story elements of your novel, not line-level or copyediting issues like language, spelling, syntax or grammar. These can be addressed by a line or copy-editor and I absolutely recommend you hire one further down the line to get your manuscript ready for publication.
My editing process
First read through: I’ll read your manuscript through once without stopping to make notes. Sometimes things jump out at me that I don’t want to forget so I’ll occasionally highlight paragraphs or leave myself reminders but mostly I’m just immersing myself in the story and responding as your readers would.
Plotting and scheming: This is the time I spend thinking about your story and letting it sit before starting my critique. I’ll write up some rough notes about my immediate reactions to your manuscript, like a letter to myself that helps me untangle all my thoughts and ideas and start putting my reader response into words.
Read your questionnaire: At the beginning of the process I’ll send you an author questionnaire that asks you about your story, your experience and your publishing goals. I don’t read this straight away as I don’t want it to influence my initial response to your manuscript when I come to it for the first time, but I’ll read it as soon as I’ve finished reading.
Update my checklist: I have a critique checklist that I customise for every manuscript I work on, and I’ll take any specific concerns from your questionnaire and drop them in. For example, if you mention you’re not sure your protagonist is likeable enough or that you struggle with your chapter endings, I’ll flag these in my checklist to ensure I address them thoroughly in my critique.
Research and background reading: I like to immerse myself in the books you love so I can understand your influences and goals, so when I send you my author questionnaire I'll ask for your favourite authors and novels in your genre. When I discuss any issues of writing craft in your editorial letter, I can pull out examples from books you love to demonstrate a technique or narrative device so it’ll click for you faster.
Second read through: I’ll read your manuscript again but this time I’ve got my ‘editor’ hat on, not my ‘reader’ hat. As I read, I’ll leave you notes using MS Word's commenting feature, giving my thoughts and suggestions as I go through your manuscript. I'll also start drafting my editorial letter, pulling out passages to discuss and adding elements to my checklist to ensure I cover everything. I’ll be building your book map as I read, too.
- Review my comments: When I've finished my second read of your manuscript, I'll go back through all the comments I left and start categorising them with hashtags to make it easier for you to find the elements you're looking for. This means those comments are all fresh in my mind when I sit down to work on your editorial letter.
Write your editorial letter: Next I’ll turn all my jumbled notes and ideas into a long, detailed critique, going through each element of story craft (like character, plot, conflict and world building) one by one. I’ll tell you what I loved (and why I loved it) and what I think needs more work, demonstrating techniques and explaining exactly how you can tackle any problem areas.
Finalise your book map: I’ll map out your story scene by scene, tracking characters, plot threads, theme and more.
Write your Spoonful of Sugar guide: I’ll lay out a proposed plan of action, helping you tackle your revisions in a manageable, sensible order while staying positive and optimistic.
Write your recommended reading list: Last but not least, I’ll read over your critique and choose novels, craft books and articles that I think will help you tackle some of the issues I’ve flagged.
Let's get started!
I can't tell you how excited I am to read your manuscript. So, if you have middle grade or YA story that you consider to be fantasy, horror, sci-fi, mystery or just something with a hint of oddness or dash of macabre, please give me a shout – it'll make my day! If a developmental edit isn't quite right for you, take a look at my other services.
Developmental edits at a glance
What's the difference between a manuscript critique and a developmental edit?
A developmental edit is like a supercharged manuscript critique. You'll receive everything that comes with that plus hundreds of comments left in your manuscript via MS Word. So you'll get:
- Margin comments in your manuscript
- An editorial letter
- A book map
- Next steps guide
- Recommended reading list
What sort of notes?
Here's an example of the kinds of comments I might leave you. Expect anything up to 500 across your entire manuscript:
What sort of editorial letter?
To give you an idea of what I cover, here's the contents page from a recent client's editorial letter:
Who is a developmental edit for?
An edit is for authors who have finished writing their story and done some self-editing and are now ready to get professional feedback and advice. I only work on middle grade and YA fiction in the following genres:
How much does it cost?
Developmental edits cost £0.019 per word with a minimum rate of £475. For example:
- 30,000 = £570
- 50,000 = £950
- 80,000 = £1,520
How it works
- You get in touch to tell me about your book and send a sample
- We chat over email and if we decide we're right for each other, I confirm cost and timings (I usually deliver an edit within ten weeks of the start date)
- I send you an invoice for half the fee before I get started
- You send me your manuscript and I get going!
- I email you a weekly progress report (The Friday Howl) so you know everything's swell
- When I'm finished, I'll invoice you for the remaining half of the fee
- Finally, I email you all the lovely things I wrote for you
- We talk via email about any questions you have or clarifications you need