What is Developmental Editing? Who Does Developmental Editing?

Content and structure of a manuscript need to be improved, and the editing required to improve them is called developmental editing. If you have heard of copyediting, proofreading, and other types of editing, they all ensure that the punctuation, spelling and grammar are proper, but developmental editing is different.

Developmental editing aims to take on the topics, for example, the pacing, characterization, setting, and plot. There is nothing, in particular, to follow as a developmental editor; you have to make it happen by your instincts, your experience, and the lifetime of heavy readings so that the manuscript can reach its full potential.

Most of the publishers send the book written by someone through at least one round of developmental editing. A person of the faint heart cannot take their career as developmental editing. This editing can make a major change in a book. An entire plot can be changed; characters can be merged, hemispheres can be switched in the settings and so on. But, it’s all worth for the success of the book.

Who is responsible for developmental editing?

In a publishing house, you can find editors, and they are not just editors, chief editors, associates editors, or assistant editors, they are developmental editors. Every one of them does developmental editing in different degrees. Larger publishers have in-house editors who will even edit the manuscripts of the client before the submission or sometimes even when the novel is already under the contract with the publishing house.

The demand for freelance developmental editors is increasing. Critique partners and beta readers can also do developmental editing. Sometimes fellow writers will do development editing for you, and in exchange, you have to do development editing for them.

There are two forms of developmental editing:

  • Editorial letters
  • Substantive editing

Ellis Rose