Why should I work with a developmental editor?
A developmental editor’s goal is to help you best say what you want to say. When you, the writer, have looked for so long and worked so hard on a piece of writing, it’s important to have someone else offer perspective on how your words come across to a reader.
A developmental editor can help you make changes that not only improve clarity but also best capture your message. For example, an editor may make suggestions for reorganizing certain parts of a manuscript, considerations for parts that need to be further flushed out, or parts that feel extraneous and may not belong in the text, among others.
This work is different than copy editing, which has more to do with grammatical correctness than broad-scale content.
What’s it like to work with a developmental editor?
A writer/editor relationship is a personal one, in addition to being professional. When you put your work out there for others to read, a certain vulnerability accompanies it. A good editor respects that fact and always works with your best interests in mind.
As with any relationship, personal or professional, a level of comfort is necessary. An editor must feel comfortable offering feedback that may be difficult for you to hear, while ensuring that you understand that constructive criticism of a piece of work is not the same as criticism of you.
Likewise, you must feel comfortable enough with your editor to know your precious work is in good hands. The back and forth may consists of numerous revisions and drafts; that is part of the process. Your editor will treat that process as one of learning and growth and, above all, honor your efforts even while asking the tough questions.
Think tough love, with emphasis on the latter. Your editor wants to help others love your work as much as you do.
Will my editor change all my words? What if it doesn’t sound like me anymore?
Your editor has not done right by you if, after working on your manuscript, your voice no longer exists or is significantly altered. Your writing should first and foremost sound like you. Your editor may have suggestions for different wording, but the goal is always to help you sound like the best you possible.
What if I don’t agree with my editor?
Your editor’s feedback will consist of many things. While editors can offer expert-level feedback that is based on having worked in the industry and having collaborated with many different authors, developmental changes are ultimately yours to take or leave. At the least, you should feel free to ask follow up questions. Your editor’s work will not exist without reason, and your skills can improve by having a clear idea why changes are made.
Will my editor get authorship credit?
Absolutely not. Your editor is a like a silent partner. The words are yours and are attributed as such. At their best, editors put their professional touch on your work while seeming to have never been there at all.