Tips for Working with a Developmental Editor

Developmental editor working with a client

Tips for Working with a Developmental Editor

Katie Cook No Comments

The job of a developmental editor is to make your project the best it can be. In my role as a developmental editor for textbooks, operations manuals, and other educational products, I prepare a competitive analysis of the competition (textbooks), recommend alternative ways of phrasing concepts, remove the jargon and ensure that the text is written for its intended audience, and much more. Hiring a developmental editor can be a luxury for some, but working with a developmental editor will save you time and money in the long run. Follow the tips below to get the most benefit from a developmental editor’s expertise.

1. Hire the developmental editor early in the process.
The developmental editor isn’t going to fix your grammar, change your comma to a semicolon, or flag your sentence fragment. Your developmental editor will likely fix blatant errors, but our job is to address higher-level issues. Developmental editors are idea people; we care about the overall message and the individual concepts. After addressing the big issues with your developmental editor you can then hire a copyeditor to fix typos, grammar, and punctuation.

2. Finalize the draft and then take a break.
Once you pass the work to the editor, resist the urge to add new material, make organizational changes, or edit the document. Things get messy when multiple people are working on the same document. If you add to your document while it is being edited you miss out on valuable input. Sit on your hands if you must, or start a new document and make note of your ideas for changes. After the developmental editor returns the edits, you can revise based on your notes and the editor’s suggestions.

3. Arrange for two passes with your editor
Your editor is your partner and collaborator. A good editor will ask questions, offer suggestions for developing content, and may even have suggestions for drastically altering the organization, all while being mindful of your style and intent. Depending on the type of changes your editor recommends, two passes of a document may be necessary. When you have two editing passes you have the chance to review your editor’s queries and implement changes. Then the editor can review the document for a second time and send you back a clean version. When I work with business owners who are writing franchise, operations, or training manuals I always suggest two editing passes.

4. Hire the right developmental editor
To get the most value for your money hire a developmental editor who specializes in your area. I specialize in educational products and would never attempt to edit a work of fiction. For tips on finding your editor match, check out my blog post on how to find your perfect editor.

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