Copy and line editing is what's called "mechanical editing." Copy and line editors look at the fine details of writing: grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and an author's adherence to the appropriate style guide.
Developmental editing comes before copy and line editing. (Recommended reading: The 4 Phases of a Book Project.) Developmental editing is big picture stuff, the stuff that will make or break your book and establish you as an author who knows what it takes to produce a commercially viable manuscript.
Think of your developmental editor as a bodyguard and PR pro.
We watch for areas that weaken your position, expose you to lawsuits and reputational risk, fail to deliver on your promise to readers, and your competitors may be able to take advantage of. We're here to protect you.
But wait. That's not all! Developmental editors also think like a marketer and PR pro. We always keep your ideal reader top of mind because if you stop talking to them and don't solve their problems, it doesn't matter how smart you are, how much experience you have, or that your manuscript is perfect by English teacher standards. If your manuscript isn't reader focused and commercially viable, agents won't be interested. Book buyers will stop reading. Your ratings will fall. Your phone won't ring.
A literary agent told me I should work with an editor. What did she (or he) mean?
It might mean that your manuscript has promise but in its current state, it's not worth the risk of offering you a contract. When in doubt, ask the agent outright. (Lit agents are cool people. They really do want you to succeed. Remember, they only make money when their clients make money.)
If a literary agent recommends that you get some help, ask them to be specific about which type of editing they're recommending and what specific weaknesses they want you to address.
What's the difference between developmental editing and book doctoring?
It's a matter of degrees. The examination/diagnostic procedure is much the same, but the treatment is not.
Book doctors are all-in. When doctoring, we diagnose and treat.
When you opt for developmental editing, we'll give you a written report with suggestions for improvements, but, for better or worse, you make the changes.
How long does it take, and how much does it cost?
Depending on the length, complexity, and state of your manuscript, developmental editing typically takes between 2-8 weeks. How much you can expect to pay depends on your goals and aspirations and the level of experience and past successes of the editor you engage with.
If you aspire to be traditionally published and/or want to garner respect, acclaim, and reach, look for an editor who has experience in the traditional publishing realm, connections to literary agents and respectable publishers, and whose clientele and success match your goals and hopes.
Approaching developmental editing with forethought rather than as an afterthought can save you time, energy, money, and face.
(And, of course, follow your developmental edit with excellent copy and line editing.)
For more information about my prices, click here: Developmental Editing FAQs.
And, learn more about my clients by clicking here: Clients.