Developmental Editing

You’ve finally completed your book, but there are issues that you can’t quite spot after staring at the words for so long. I can help you spot problem areas and tell you how to fix them.

Developmental Editing For Fiction

With so many types of editing available to independent authors, it’s easy to become confused about all the different terms being used online. Substantive, developmental, content, line, copy. It’s enough to drive an author (or an editor) crazy!

Developmental editing is sometimes referred to as content (usually for non-fiction) or substantive editing. This type of editing for fiction involves broad changes such as overall plot, world building, character descriptions and personalities, pacing, voice, story structure, writing quality, and dialogue. Developmental editing can tell you which chapters to cut, which paragraphs need to be moved, which scenes need to be expanded, and whether your dialogue is fitting for the characters you’ve created and the situations they’re in.

If you’re concerned about the big picture, a developmental edit will help you restructure and reorganize, trimming down the areas that distract from the manuscript’s major themes and plotlines while tightening up your pace and making your dialogue feel more natural.

Developmental Editing for Nonfiction

Nonfiction manuscripts such as memoirs, biographies, self-help, inspirational, or informational books often need developmental editing. Developmental editing for these types of books includes pacing, structure, organization, focus, accuracy, voice, and clarity of writing.

While I am happy to assist authors with nonfiction manuscripts, please note that I do not have a wealth of experience in this area. A sample edit would be the best way to determine whether I am the right editor for you.


My rates for developmental editing vary depending on what you as an author are looking for and on the state of the manuscript, but fall anywhere between $0.016 per word and $0.05 per word for a single round. For example, if you have a manuscript that is fairly clean and self-edited and would prefer to do any recommended rewriting yourself, this would fall in the lower range of $0.016 (1.6 cents) per word. If you are looking for me to do a complete overhaul of your manuscript, recommending entirely new sections and helping you rewrite existing ones, that would end up starting at $0.03 (3 cents) per word. Nonfiction rates start at $0.0175 (1.75 cents) per word.

The most important thing to remember is that quoting for developmental editing is very complicated, and it is therefore best to have a firm idea of what you want me to do as your editor. While I prefer to do developmental edits on completed manuscripts, I have done partial developmental edits on specific sections of a manuscript such as opening chapters and prologues.

If you do not have a manuscript, but would like to begin the developmental editing process with a consultation, I can do this at an hourly rate of $50 per hour with a minimum of one hour. Meetings can be done via email, online messaging, Skype, or telephone.

What I Provide With Developmental Editing

Should you hire me to do a developmental edit on your manuscript, I will provide you with the following:

  • Microsoft Word file with Track Changes markup, containing minimal editing suggestions and extensive sidebar comments.
  • Microsoft Excel file with a chapter-by-chapter summary, character comments, and recommendations. (I may opt out of providing this depending on your manuscript.)
  • Editorial letter (PDF)

You are welcome to submit a list of questions for me to answer.

Types of manuscripts accepted for developmental editing:

  • Short stories
  • Novellettes
  • Novellas
  • Novels
  • Non-fiction

Please note that developmental editing does not address sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar outside of a few examples. Depending on your manuscript, I may recommend one or more rounds of developmental editing followed by one or more rounds of line editing. After seeing a sample of your manuscript, I can provide you with a pricing proposal detailing various editing package options for you to consider.

Ready to get started?

If you’ve read through all of the above and are ready to see if we’d make a great team, please feel free to request a quote and complimentary sample. Please be prepared to discuss your needs at length.

Curious about my booking process? Watch the video below.

View other service pages:

Beta Reading | Proofreading | Developmental Editing | Line Editing


Developmental editing starts at $0.017 per word with a minimum of $35 per project.

Quick Overview

Here’s the short version of what my developmental editing service includes:


Broad recommendations

Recommendations and queries regarding big picture issues such as plot, world building, characters, and story arc.



Assistance in making sure your dialogue sounds natural and flows properly with speech tags.


Pacing and voice

Evaluation and recommendations for your manuscript’s pacing and voice.



Email or chat discussion about your manuscript.


Chapter breakdown

Chapter by chapter breakdown of your manuscript with specific recommendations.

Secondary Focus

While a developmental edit may sometimes include teaching samples, it will typically not focus on these issues:

Grammar/sentence structure


Missing words


Misspelled words


Punctuation corrections


Formatting errors


For services that specifically target these issues, please see my Proofreading and Line Editing pages.

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