Get to the heart of your story with a developmental edit.

Developmental editing takes the seed of your book and helps you grow it into something beautiful. You might have finished writing a first draft, or you might only have a large pile of notes, character sketches, and plot diagrams. Either way, a developmental editor meets your book where it is and then shows you what’s working, what could work better, and how to take your manuscript to the next stage of the publishing process.

Get developmental editing services that are right for you—and your book.
Services start at $.06 per word.

Who will benefit most from developmental editing?

Developmental editing works best for authors who are as invested in the writing process as in the final book. And it’s not just for indie authors—almost every manuscript acquired by traditional publishing houses goes through at least one round of developmental editing. That’s because these kinds of process-focused edits create better books, ones readers love as much as writers. What’s more, the feedback authors receive from developmental editors can transform their writing forever. Like a personalized master class, developmental editing can illustrate an author’s strengths as well as potential areas for growth.


How do I prepare for a developmental edit?

To prepare for your developmental edit, first you’ll need a copy of Microsoft Word because our developmental editors will use MS Word to bring together all your ideas and to leave editorial suggestions and changes. You also need as much of your manuscript as you’ve already put together, a rough idea about where you’d like to end up, and a willingness to do the hard writing work that will take you from here to there. Developmental editors provide authors with navigable road maps, ones that writers can follow to improve their books.

What happens after a developmental edit?

After the developmental edit is when the real fun begins! Your developmental editor will return your manuscript with copious notes, edits, corrections, and suggestions for how to improve both your writing and your book’s content. You’ll also get a detailed editorial letter that reflects on your storytelling successes and highlights exactly what work you need to do next. Then you get to work revising—and even rewriting—your manuscript. Once you’ve transformed your book and are satisfied that your manuscript is ready for the next stage, a line edit can help root out inconsistencies, strengthen through lines, and improve your writing at the sentence level. This is also a great time to find beta readers. A critique group is an excellent way to discover how readers will respond long before you progress too far through the publishing process to make changes. Then add a round of copyediting to weed out any remaining mechanical errors, and you’ll have written a book!

Does developmental editing pose any particular challenges for writers?

Sometimes it can be hard for even the most experienced authors to receive the kind of straightforward manuscript feedback that developmental editors offer. Your editor might suggest that your plot needs reworking or that your character development is weak or that readers might balk at a particular authorial choice. Make no mistake—this can be a challenging stage of the writing process, but we promise that your book will be better for it. We want nothing more than to help you tell your story to the absolute best of your ability, and we’ll do what it takes to get you there.

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Developmental Editing Services

What is the difference between developmental editing and line editing?

The difference between developmental editing and line editing is hinted at in the terminology: developmental editing is about developing your book, taking it from its current stage (whatever that is) to a completed draft. A developmental edit of a manuscript is therefore more transformative than a line edit. Line editing and developmental editing can address many of the same issues, such as plot holes, irregular pacing, uneven characterization, or inconsistent points of view. A line edit, however, assumes that a manuscript is broadly in its finished form, and a line editor will make suggestions that are efficient and easy to implement. A developmental edit will tackle your project no matter how unfinished, and the editor’s recommendations might require extensive reworking or additional writing. Developmental edits, for example, consider questions like these (among many others):

  • Should this story be told from a different point of view?
  • Are there extraneous characters who could be removed?
  • Does the book begin and end in the right spot?
  • Are there ways to better emphasize the main themes?
  • What is the goal of developmental editing?

The goal of developmental editing is to show writers how to take their rough drafts and turn them into all-but-finished books. Developmental editors collaborate with authors to find the shape and feel of their finished books and to determine what changes are necessary to make that happen. While publishing may be the end goal, during a developmental edit, the focus is very much on the process of improving and shaping the content.


What’s involved in developmental editing?

Developmental editing is a content-shaping process that authors can use as a fundamental tool of manuscript development. It’s the first stage in the publishing process from an editor’s point of view, a chance for an author to work on the content of a book before it becomes too fixed. Developmental editors offer writers the opportunity to focus on the big picture before they have to concentrate on the details—and that can result in miraculous changes and substantially better books.

Is developmental editing the same thing as substantive editing?

Developmental editing (like line editing) is a type of substantive editing. Editing is substantive when it addresses high-level content elements in addition to (or sometimes instead of) mechanical issues such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Some professional editors use the phrase substantive editing interchangeably with line editing or developmental editing. We at Elite carefully differentiate among our types of editing, so you know what to expect when you trust our editors with your writing.


Is developmental editing helpful for ESL writers?

Developmental editing is perfect for those authors who are not native speakers but who are nevertheless committed to writing in English—which is a smart choice since the market for English-language books is huge! ESL writers might need help not just with content and structure but also with improving word choice or writing realistic-sounding dialogue, and a developmental edit can do all that and more. In fact, the books that grow from a collaboration between an ESL writer and a developmental editor can be truly magical since ESL writers are not typically hampered with bad linguistic habits or tangled up in clichés.


How much do you charge for developmental editing?

Some editors charge by the hour—which sounds great until you realize that this means you’ll only have a rough idea about your total costs until editing is actually complete. Elite Authors charges by the word, so you know before we even start working exactly what your project costs will be. Our rates are based on how intensive we expect the editing process to be—and thus how much time an editor will invest in your writing project. Thus, a copyedit is less expensive than a line edit, which is less expensive than a developmental edit. You can find our rates for developmental editing and all our other .