What's the difference between developmental editing and copy and line editing?

Copy and line editing is what's called "mechanical editing." (For more information, click here.)

Developmental editing comes before copy and line editing. 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.

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. They diagnose and treat.

Book Doctoring

What Do Book Doctors Do?

A book doctor is a cross between a developmental editor and a ghostwriter. We treat mangled manuscripts (think undefined scope, outlines with notes and bullet points, streams of consciousness, disjointed ideas, incomplete thoughts and sentences accompanied by general malaise) and restore your joie de vivre.

Are there needles involved?

Nope. No needles. In fact, the whole point of book doctoring is to take the pain away.

Developmental editors evaluate your manuscript and offer detailed feedback and recommendations about what's not functioning optimally and options for creating a healthy manuscript, but it's up to you to fix it.

The problem is, most authors get overwhelmed and often paralyzed during the revision process. After all, knowing what the problem is and what needs to be done to fix it doesn't mean you can-or want to-perform the surgery yourself.

How does it work?

When you're fed up with the project or remember that you used to have a life and business you love, toss everything you have at me, tell me your goals and vision, and go anesthetize yourself in whatever way you see fit while I scrub up, open the body (of work), and dig in up to my elbows.

First, I do exploratory surgery, report my finding to you, and recommend treatment.

Second, with your permission, I surgically remove vestigial content. (This is the part that scares and grosses most authors out.)

Third, I fix the problem areas and fill in the missing parts (not as gross and scary but more work than most people want to do at this point in the project).

Fourth, I do an editing pass to dress the wounds.

Fifth, I wake you up and show you the results.

Last, you give me feedback, I revise accordingly, and hand you the rehabbed work. Oh wait. This is usually the second to last thing.

Last last, you buy me a double gin and tonic as a recovery and celebratory drink. We toast to your good health and watch as your manuscript runs off into the world to do great things.

Developmental Editing

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 addressed.

How long does it take, and how much does it cost?

Depending on the length, complexity, and state of your manuscript, developmental editing ranges from $1,500-6,096 (based on 50k word count), and it'll be in my hands for 2-8 weeks.


How long does it take?

This is an in-patient procedure. Your manuscript will be on my operating table for two to three months.

How much does book doctoring cost, and will insurance pay for it?

I offer my book doctoring services at $15,000-24,000 depending on the state of the patient (your manuscript, not you).

To date, I'm not aware of any insurance policies that cover this kind of work. If you hear of any, let me know. I'll jump through whatever hoops are necessary for me to accept it because this is the service authors most often need and want and that makes the biggest difference in outcome (assuming they didn't start with a ghostwriter).

When should I consider consulting with a book doctor?

I'd love to keep the lighthearted doctor analogy going here, but the truth is, this is serious business. Like working with a ghostwriter, hiring a book doctor is an investment. It's for ambitious authors who recognize the monetary value of their time and energy and who have a clear vision for how a strong, healthy manuscript (book) will pay for itself by increasing their exposure to high-level professional opportunities.

Think of yourself like an athlete. If you see yourself and your book as equivalent to weekend warrior level fitness, you probably won't be willing (or need) to invest in this level of manuscript development. If, however, you expect this book to perform at pro athlete level, you should consider addressing everything that's holding that body back from operating at peak performance.

If you've got a body of work that's not working for you, now's the time to call a doctor.


Clients & Results

For a sample of the clients I've worked with, types of projects, and our results, click here: Clients.

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