Skip to content

Should I hire a nonfiction developmental editor?

Crumpled yellow paper forms the bulb of a drawn lightbulb. Image: Sasha Brazhnik via Canva Photos.If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, you should consider hiring a developmental editor:

  • I don’t know how to structure my book.
  • I’m not sure if what I’m writing will connect with my audience.
  • I’m stuck as stuck can be.
  • I need an outside voice to see what I can’t see because I’m too close to the material.
  • I just know something isn’t working with my book.

What is a developmental editor?

A nonfiction developmental editor provides broad feedback on your manuscript, typically after an early draft has been written.

In other words, to make the most effective use of a developmental editor, you need to have written a majority—if not all of—your manuscript. (If you’re just beginning your writing or you’re still in the middle of writing and would like help, consider hiring a nonfiction book coach.)

A developmental editor can help you with:

  • Structure and flow
  • Tone and voice
  • Positioning
  • Clarity
  • Concision

Developmental editing is also sometimes known as substantive editing or content editing. However, unlike line editing or copyediting, developmental editing doesn’t touch your words line by line. Rather, a developmental editor offers suggestions, typically as comments attached to problematic sections, that allows the author to assess the suggestion and then to incorporate it as they see fit.

In many ways, a developmental editor is an advocate for your reader, ensuring that your book clearly speaks to them and compels them to read more.

What does the developmental editing process look like?

We’ll meet virtually or by phone to discuss what kind of help you believe your manuscript needs.

I’ll send you a contract detailing our work together, including the services to be rendered, the deadline, the cost, and the payment schedule.

You’ll then send me your full manuscript.

I’ll carefully read through your manuscript and make comments via Word’s Track Changes to help your manuscript shine.

In some instances, virtual meetings/calls can be scheduled to talk through suggested changes.

At the end of the process, you will have practical suggestions to make your manuscript better—but it will be up to you to incorporate those changes.

In some instances, if agreed to beforehand, I will read your revisions and offer further suggestions if necessary.

How much does developmental editing cost?

Developmental editing is a highly subjective editing process. Its cost depends on the editor’s experience, expertise, and genre knowledge. The cost also depends on the word count, whether the author desires to discuss the edits, and other factors.

As a baseline, developmental edits for a 50,000-word nonfiction book can run from $2,000 to $8,000. Because of my experience, I’m on the higher end. However, every project is different, and I encourage you to contact me for a discussion before deciding your next steps.

To see if you should hire a nonfiction developmental editor, schedule a free 15-minute discovery call with me today.