What Developmental Editing Isn’t

This is what developmental editing isn't.

Last week, I introduced developmental editing and gave an overview of what it is. This week, I’m describing what it’s not.

As developmental editing is its own animal, it doesn’t deal with any of the following:

Copy editing. This type of editing focuses on word choice, punctuation, capitalization, style, typographical errors, and grammar. Copy editors also ensure the voice is consistent throughout. Some developmental editors will catch and correct some of the most glaringly obvious errors that a copy editor would have eventually seen, but because the developmental editor is focusing on the overall piece, he or she won’t catch and fix every error.

Line editing. This is similar to copy editing in that line editors also look at word choice, style and grammar. However, the line editor focuses on more creative uses of language and how the word choice affects how clearly the story is communicated. Line editors seek out and fix extra or unnecessary words, run-on sentences, redundancies, tonal shifts, unnatural phrasing, and confusing narrative digressions. They also tighten paragraphs.

Proofreading. At the end of the editing process, after the manuscript has been formatted into book form, the proofreader takes a final look at the manuscript and checks for misspellings, punctuation and capitalization errors and grammatical problems.

Beta reading. These people aren’t editors but instead are people who are part of your target audience. Maybe you know them, maybe you don’t. Maybe you pay them, maybe you don’t. Regardless, they read the manuscript when it’s almost done and tell you how your target audience will likely respond to the book. They usually make note of the book’s tone, how they felt reading it, whether the ending worked or not, when exactly they started or stopped being interested, and any questions they might have about what they read. If a story within the book makes no sense, they’ll let you know. They provide a valuable perspective: that of a test group of people you want to read your book.

Ghostwriting. This is a person you hire to help write the book for you. People who use ghostwriters decide they’re not writers, they hate writing, they don’t have the time to write a book; or they’re afraid that their idea won’t sell (fear of failure), will sell (fear of success), or isn’t compelling enough to reach a wide audience. A ghostwriter takes the person’s story and turns it into a complete, compelling manuscript ready for editing.

Ghostwriting is what I do, and I’m always happy to talk to you about what it is and what it takes to ghostwrite your book. If you want to discuss hiring me as your ghostwriter in New York or get more information about developmental editing, contact me on this website.

Next: Developmental editing’s focus

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