An early stage of the editing process, developmental
editing helps you tackle big-picture issues.

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 nonfiction) or substantive editing. For fiction, this type of editing involves broad changes such as overall plot, worldbuilding, character development, voice, story structure, writing quality, and dialogue. 

A developmental edit can tell you which chapters to cut, which paragraphs need to be moved, which scenes need to be cut or 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 plot lines while tightening up your pace and pointing out areas where your dialogue needs to 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.

Due to my area of interest, I am more selective about which nonfiction manuscripts I personally take on. Nonfiction manuscripts may be assigned to another Pikko’s House editor.


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 $0.02 per word and $0.035 per word for a single round. 

For example, if you have a manuscript that is fairly clean and self-edited, this would fall in the lower range of $0.02 (2 cents) per word. Manuscripts that are very raw and require more contemplation and reorganization will fall in the upper range of $0.03 (3 cents per word). Nonfiction rates start at $0.021 (2.1 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 need from 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 a rate of $55 per hour with a minimum of one hour. Meetings can be done via email, online messaging, Skype, or telephone.

Developmental Editing Delivery

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

  • A Microsoft Word file with Track Changes markup containing minimal editing suggestions (teaching examples) and extensive sidebar comments.
  • An extensive editorial letter in PDF format, ranging between 10–25 pages, that includes a chapter-by-chapter summary, character evaluations, story arc suggestions, writing tips, and story recommendations for your manuscript. 

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
  • Nonfiction

Please note that developmental editing does not provide manuscript revisions to fix sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar outside of a few examples. Depending on your manuscript, I may recommend a subsequent manuscript critique 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.

Base Estimate

Quick Overview

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


Direct suggestions for addressing big-picture issues such as plot, worldbuilding, characters, and story arc.


Comments pointing out lines of dialogue that need strengthening to ensure natural conversation.

Chapter breakdown

A linear opinion of each chapter of the book as I do my cold read. 

Voice and Writing

Evaluation and suggestions for improving your author’s voice and the quality of your storytelling.

Character Assessment

A look into your primary and secondary characters that points out areas that need improvement.


One hour of post-editing discussion via email or chat is available once you have had a chance to process feedback.

Not Included

My developmental editing service does not include the following:

Manuscript editing

Aside from a few teaching samples, your manuscript will not be edited.


Formatting will only be done should it be necessary to aid my ability to read.

Ready to Get Started?

Whether you're confident that I'm the right person to trust with your book or you have additional questions, contact me to discuss your project needs.

Ready to Get Started?

Whether you're confident that I'm the right person to trust with your book or you have additional questions, contact me to discuss your project needs.

Don’t See What You Need?

View Other Editing Services:

Beta Reading | Manuscript CritiqueDevelopmental Editing | Line Editing | Copy EditingProofreading 

View Add-On Services:

Ebook Formatting | Book Interior Design | ARC Distribution | Book Mockups

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