Being a writer can often involve hidden costs, especially if you self-publish. Editing is a given in the writing industry. But, how do you know which type of editing you need for your novel and when to hire a developmental editor? First, you need to know what this type of editing entails.

What Is Developmental Editing?

A developmental edit also referred to as a structural edit, conceptual editing, or manuscript appraisal. It involves a careful and in-depth edit of your entire manuscript. Developmental editing analyzes all aspects of your writing, ranging from separate words to the overall configuration and style of your sentences. A developmental editor should be very perceptive and experienced, as this is a detailed edit for professionals only. 


When Should You Hire A Developmental Editor? 


  • Structural Errors - If you or a proofreader or beta reader notice you have a lot of structural errors, this is one good indicator you need a developmental edit. Structural errors include sentence fragments, comma splices, run-on sentences, or any missing areas or gaps in your work. These errors can make your writing more difficult for readers to understand and the point of your story may be lost. Other signals of structural errors include incomplete plots, plot holes, timing errors, or areas where there is too much or not enough description. 
  • Line by Line Thorough Check - When hiring a developmental editor, they will check everything more in-depth than you can. Therefore, if the tone of your novel and general writing style need help, this is another time when a developmental editor is needed. You may have heard of line editing. Developmental editing includes this necessary step. Even if your writing and grammar is very good, many writers will not catch their own mistakes. Some consider hiring a developmental editor the first step before sending your manuscript to a proofreader, copyeditor, or beta reader. 
  • Limited Funding - If you’re on a budget, you may not be able to hire editors in phases. If you only have room in the budget for one edit, it’s a good idea to make that be a developmental editor. The attention to detail will ensure you get the most thorough edit possible with the available funds. 
  • Audience Focus - A thorough developmental editing session will keep your target audience in mind and evaluate your work in correlation to industry criteria and anticipations. Authors should go into this process prepared to rewrite if necessary to fit appropriate target groups for the subject matter.

At What Stage Of The Process Should You Hire A Developmental Editor?

When to hire a developmental editor depends on how many edits you can pay for, as well as the number of errors you may have in your natural writing. If your errors tend to be on the lower end but you mainly need help with structuring, you might want a developmental editor after your first rough draft in case of plot changes. On the other hand, if you seem to have the storyline down pretty well but your grammar and other structure need more help, it would be wise to wait until your personal edits are done. Then your final draft would be what you get from your developmental editor. If it's in your budget to do so, it would be most beneficial to hire a developmental editor at both of those stages. Consider your budget, structure, and writing style to make the best decision. 

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