What is developmental editing?

Publishing is a mystery to many writers, academic writers in particular. Scholars, researchers, academics, whatever you want to call them, they have stories, findings, information to share, and they often don’t know where or how to share them. Journal articles reach a small audience, mainly in your field, whether that’s nineteenth century English novels or natural filtration systems found in the Hudson River.

A recent column in Inside Higher Education bemoaned the fact that scholars need help reaching a wider audience but can’t always find it. Entitled, “Why Is the Book Doctor Out?” by Rachel Toor, the piece laments that “authorship is often lonely, miserable work.” Publishing books is a process and product that seems out of reach. What the Toor calls a “book doctor” is more often called a developmental editor in professional publishing and editing circles.

The Editorial Freelancers Association has a simple definition of developmental editing:

“Developmental editors develop a book or other project from the initial concept onward, working closely with the author or client to study competing works and create a product that stands out. Note that the terms ‘developmental editor,’ ‘substantive editor,’ ‘structural editor,’ and ‘content editor’ overlap and are sometimes used interchangeably for editors who identify and/or implement different large-scale strategies for improving a manuscript.”

My own academic background is in literature and the humanities, but I have worked with faculty across the disciplines. My clients have said things like, “I didn’t know this kind of service was available,” and “this is just what I need to get this project going right now.”

The column pushed me to launch my freelance business wider than I had originally thought. It also gave me another angle to explain to people (my husband, family, friends) the services I am offering.

Thanks Rachel Toor!

If you’re interested in working with me, tell me about your project and we can schedule a free thirty-minute consultation. Use this form.

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