Frequently Asked Questions|
What is a development editor?
A development editor — sometimes called a writing coach — is someone who works with an author to develop their manuscript to the point where it is ready for publication. They generally provide feedback and advice on 'the big issues': plot, character, pacing, setting, description, internal logic, writing quality, and so on. This contrasts with copy editors, who fix minor errors in grammar, phrasing, sentence & paragraph structure, and so on; and with proofreaders, who check for spelling, grammar and consistency. Acquisition editors are people who read manuscripts for publishers and decide which manuscripts to buy. Acquisition editors sometimes act as development editors and work with authors if they are considering buying a manuscript.
How do I know if a development editor is the right editor for me?
This is difficult! I've heard from many authors who have wasted their money having their manuscripts professionally edited by someone who didn't understand their work at all. This leaves both the editor and client frustrated: it's tough slogging for the editor if they don't 'get' the material and unpleasant dealing with dissatisfied clients; and the client is left poorer but no wiser. It is therefore important to take some care choosing the right editor.
The first criteria always has to be to hire someone who is familiar with your genre. Even a top business editor or a Romance editor won't be able to spot the paradoxes in your time travel story or raise problems with your magic system unless they are also familiar with your genre.
But even a specialized SF editor may not be compatible with you or your work. That's why SFeditor.ca uses a two stage review process. The first, low-cost/low-risk assessment tells both the editor and the client if they are right for each other. Chances are if you don't like or can't use the feedback on the first 30 pages, it won't get better on page 300. So why pay for editing the whole manuscript when you can start with a trial-sized sample?
You've convinced me that I need to have my manuscript edited by an objective, professional, genre editor, but I can't begin to afford your rates. What can I do?
Professional editing can definitely be expensive, and is often out of reach for students and (ironically) many professional writers. Here are some alternatives:
Join an on-line workshop with peers and find a few other compatibable writers. Although not all writers are necessarily good editors, all you need are two or three others who can help you with your manuscript to make a functioning workshop/editorial group/ focus group. You pay for their input on your manuscript by investing the same (or more) time critiquing theirs. The key is to make sure that such groups do not degenerate into either mutual adirmation societies or (equally common, unfortunately) become destructively critical. But the point is to have the benefit of another set of eyes catch things you cannot see yourself.
There are some excellent self-help books on editing your own work. Try Self-editing For Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne; Write Great Fiction Revision And Self-Editing by James Scott Bell; The Fluid Text: A Theory of Revision and Editing for Book and Screen by John Bryant; Write It Right: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros by Dawn Josephson, and Lauren Hidden; Savvy Self-Editing: A Guide for Developing Your Own Editing Process by Tony Jaymes or my personal favorite, Thanks, But This Isn't For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected by Jessica Page Morell.
There are some free materials on SFeditor.ca that may be of some help. Have a look around.
In reading your web pages, I've noticed some errors. How can I trust your editing?
Note that proofreading is a different skill than copy editing, and especially developmental editing. Note also that SFeditor.ca does not offer proofreading services. Nevertheless, SFeditor.ca would greatly appreciate your bringing such errors to the attention of the webdeveloper (use the "Contact" button to the left) as these pages are being built. Hopefully, all the errors in this beta version will be identified and corrected before the site goes "live".
Last updated July 13, 2010