Developmental Editing

Invisible Ink’s developmental editing service is an opportunity for you to receive in-depth feedback from a professional editor. Developmental editing is a vital first step in the editing process and typically takes place after you’ve received feedback from beta readers but before you move on to line editing.

What Is Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing is a chance for you to receive feedback on your manuscript before you have finalized a first draft. If you have completed all or most of a first draft and would like feedback on your plotline(s), characterization, story development, consistency, style, tone, and the other fundamentals of the novel, this service is right for you.

During the developmental editing process, one of Invisible Ink’s book editors will read your entire manuscript start to finish, taking detailed notes on what works and what doesn’t. In addition to making comments in the margins, your fiction editor will provide you with a separate document compiling their notes into a detailed evaluation of the manuscript, otherwise known as a critique.

Your manuscript does not have to be complete before you undertake developmental editing; in some areas, the story many not be fully fleshed out, and there may even be some chapters or passages that are purely in outline format. If you have hit a wall and cannot write anymore—or if you’re feeling as though you’re suffering from writer’s block—developmental editing can help you find a way forward to finish the manuscript.

What’s Covered in a Novel Critique?

Every critique we write is unique, but there are some general areas we typically cover in developmental editing. These are some of the most common types of feedback we give our authors:

Grammar and mechanics. While we usually don’t perform any line editing or proofreading during the beta reading phase, we will take time to point out any consistent grammatical or mechanical issues we come across.

Tone and style. Your editor will consider your tone and style as they edit your novel and factor this into their final critique. You’ll receive feedback on what qualities define your style and how you can further weave your voice throughout the manuscript.

Language and repetition. During developmental editing, we look for words and phrases that are misused or overused, so you can clear them up before embarking on your next novel editing service.

Characterization. You can expect a thorough examination of the characters in your novel. We will discuss what works and doesn’t work for certain characters and how you can further develop your characters and their relationships in the next round of edits.

Plot and consistency. We will examine your novel for plot and consistency issues. We’ll identify any major plot holes, and we’ll also point out places where the story drags or where you may want to add more information or description.

Developmental Editing vs. Beta Reading

What’s the difference between developmental editing and beta reading? While there is a lot of overlap, beta reading typically refers to peer-to-peer editing. Beta reading allows you to test your novel with members of the public who enjoy your style of writing or your particular genre. While this may sometimes mean handing your manuscript to a trusted friend or family member, there are also author exchanges and online groups that offer free or very low-cost beta reading.

Developmental editing, on the other hand, is a chance to workshop your novel with a trained professional book editor. At Invisible Ink, we go deeper and provide more extensive feedback than you are likely to receive from peer beta readers. We can also provide insights into your genre, the world of self-publishing, and the nuances of professional writing.

Beta reading is a valuable exercise for any independent author, and we highly recommend you have at least one or two people read your manuscript before it’s submitted for formal developmental novel editing.

Rates for Developmental Editing

Our developmental editing service starts $0.0075/word, though this price may fluctuate if you are purchasing an editing bundle.