What is Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing comes under the field of writing. In this type of writing, the evaluation of the work is carried out in order to assess whether it is ready for publishing or not. Additionally, developmental editing services are also hired to improve the writing further and give it a professional polish. 

Therefore, in most cases, developmental editing is made after writing and before the publishing stage. However, editing services are also hired during the production stage to keep it professional and up to date in some cases.

Let’s take an example to illustrate the point better. Suppose you made a plan to write a book. After writing it completely, you are confused about whether it is up to the required standard for publishing. So you seek some professional and expert services to proofread it and rectify the issues that are found.

Interestingly, after evaluating all these things now, you need developmental editing to resolve the issues and fill out the gaps. So, congratulations, now your work is ready for publishing. I hope so; now, this term is no longer new and confusing for you.

Is Developmental Editing The First Stage of Editing?

Yes, it is the first editing stage, and it is also called substantive or content editing. Because after the completion of the draft, one needs to review and highlights the issues and missing points. Professional editing provides the review and sends back feedback. The feedback highlights all the problems in your draft.

However, the length of the stage can vary from one round to a series of edits or even rewrites. That's why it is kept the first stage of editing before any it’s declared finished because any new rewrites will again need proofreading and editing.

Do All Authors Follow The Same Process For Developmental Editing?

Every author follows their process. However, some prefer to hire the services of a professional at the first stage to avoid any hassle and solidify their ideas in a wider context.

Some authors benefit from their productive and relevant social circle by sending it to them and getting multiple peer reviews. However, with this approach, the authors make multiple edits and re-edits to align it according to the reviews.

So, it is suggested to avoid this particular approach due to its time-consuming nature and directly consulting with a professional to make it perfect for publishing. Because editing is a critical stage in content creation, it also greatly influences your chances of publishing your work on your first try.

What Are The Responsibilities of Developmental Editors?

A development editor guides authors to draw an outline, conceive their writing topic, design its structure, and coach them through the content writing process.

These types of services do not follow the usual workflows. Because there are very few authors who think they need substantial reviews for their draft before publishing.

There is another aspect to consider. If the editor makes a certain percentage of changes in the draft, they can be considered a ghostwriter or contributing author. So the goal is to polish the draft, not rewrite it in the name of editing.

When Are Developmental Editors Called Project Managers?

 In textbooks type publications, the editors are involved at the start of the production. In such cases, they are called project managers of the book editing process because they play a fundamental role in publishing a textbook.

Moreover, they create an outline to guide the authors and contribute to the content in the form of supporting materials, exercises, and legends. Additionally, they also do the editing of the manuscript alongside its development.

Are Editors Required For Research Paper Publications?

For research paper publications, the authors are helped out by their professors. But in two situations, they need editors. First, when the researcher cannot develop a manuscript, hiring or connecting with a professional developmental editor can be quite helpful in the writing process.

Secondly, when a researcher faces continuous rejections for his research work. In this situation, a researcher should look into seeking guidance. Therefore, editors, in this case, are often called academic mentors or academic mentoring.

What Are the Major Types of Editing?

Although now that you have a good idea of what is involved with developmental editing. It is imperative that you also understand that there are several different types of editing. Each fulfills a certain requirement within the writing process.

There are five major types of editing based on what kind of issues they look for and rectify. Here is the list of five major types of editing:

  • Developmental, substantive, or content editing
  • Line Editing
  • Structural Editing
  • Mechanical editing
  • Copy editing
  • Line editing

Therefore, our main topic covers just one type of editing. So, keep in mind this thing to avoid confusion. We are now moving back to our main topic.

Five Tips For Finding The Best Developmental or Substantive Editing Services

If you are looking for the best substantive editor to hire, then you must consider these five tips so that you can hire the one who is right for you. These five tips are going to assist you in finding the best editor. So, let’s take a look:

1. Pick the right one:

When you are looking for the best editor, you need to consider some points. The first point is to check years of experience that they have been providing professional editing services. Secondly, verify if their specializations align with the topics of your publication. For example, if you are writing on science fiction, they must have experience in this category.

So, in simple words, the editor must have both knowledge and experience of the genre or field. Third, the auditor must be able to understand you and your writing style.

2. Be Flexible

It would be best to be flexible and open-minded about the editor's feedback and critiques. That’s why if you hire an expert, then you must follow through on their advice to get the best results. On the other hand, hiring an expert will not be as fruitful if you are not flexible about writing and editing.

3. Edit All Changes

Being flexible is not the only solution; you must edit all the changes mentioned by the editors. However, in substantial editing, sometimes the editors can suggest a significant number of changes. It would be best if you did not worry about the number of changes. Instead, it would help to focus on making them so that your draft’s quality improves greatly.

4. Cover The Major Ideas

The focus should be limited to the major ideas or the bigger picture in the developmental editing stage. Because the small details and secondary aims are followed in the line editing stage. That’s why it is important to avoid distractions in the first stage by focusing on the main ideas.

5. Be Patient

Last but not least is to exercise patience throughout the process. This stage needs multiple re-edits because it’s a complex and time-consuming process. That’s why you need to show patience along with accepting the changes.

Common FAQs About Developmental Editing

A blog post is incomplete without answering frequently asked questions by people related to the topic. So, in this section, all related FAQs will be covered to assist you regarding this topic. So, don’t skip this section.

Is Developmental Editing Worth It?

Developmental editing is not for the fainthearted. It can lead to significant modifications in the content. Characters may be combined. Whole storylines can be thrown away, and hemispheric settings can vary, and so on. In the end, though, everything's worth it.

What is The Difference Between Line Editing And Developmental Editing?

Both come under the umbrella of editing. However, both fundamentally perform different functions. Developmental editing works on major ideas and elements in writing and has a greater contribution to the development of the manuscript. Additionally, it also focuses on providing satisfaction to its intended audience by delivering what the readers want to read.

Line editing is also known as copy editing. The function of line editing starts where the developmental one ends. It focuses on the tone, sentences, clichés, syntax, word choices, and similar things. In short, a line editor is responsible for grammatical issues, flow, and typos, and they are different from proofreaders.

How Much Should a Developmental Edit Cost?

The cost of developmental editing for your work is typically between $.07 and $.12 per word. Some developmental editors charge per page of a manuscript, ranging from $7.50 to $20.

What is The Purpose of Developmental or Substantive Editing?

Developmental editing or substantive editing is more involved in the manuscript creation process and focuses on the big picture components of the tale. A developmental editor looks for plot gaps, character arcs, pace, action scenes, and dialogue for creative writing.

What Are The Four Stages of Editing?

The four stages of editing include structural editing, copy editing, proofreading, and page proofs. However, while editing a piece of writing, the most important thing to consider is objectivity. For example, it helps you bring uniqueness and usefulness if you follow it while writing or editing a book.

What Can I Expect From a Developmental Editor?

A developmental editor focuses on narrative, characterization, pace, storytelling, and marketability (the big picture elements). Whether your objective is traditional publishing or self-publication, you can expect them to enhance your strengths and shore up your shortcomings.

What Are Editing And Proofreading Services?

Both terms are the parts of the last examination of a document. Misspellings, missed or incorrect punctuation, inconsistencies (numerical and textual), and checking of other errors come under proofreading services.  On the other hand, editing corrects flaws like sentence structure and linguistic clarity at the heart of writing.

What Are Some Key Editing Service Trends in 2021?

These are key editing service trends in 2021 because of the increased demand in the market. Such as there'll be more escapist literature in the future, More quantity and higher quality, the audiobook editing services are being expanded, the use of artificial intelligence in publishing, and the increased demand for eBook editors.


However, to conclude the whole discussion, I would like to say that an editor in the field needs up-to-date information and constant learning of new skills to remain competitive within the market. Because trends are changing day by day, that’s why new things are happening too quickly. So, to sustain the competition, you need to have full awareness of the latest trends. And people are mostly looking for those whose writings are aligned with trends. That will help you write good content and help you get the right expert for your developmental editing to make your publication stand out from the crowd.