Developmental Editing – Author Resources

There are so many author resources out there that it is sometimes hard to know where to start. In this Author Resources series, I help you out, by recommending some of my favorite books for (aspiring) writers. In this installment, I present to you: “Developmental Editing”.

Reasons to read Developmental Editing

Scott Norton's Developmental Editing book cover

If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ll have seen his name before. There, I shared his 18 strategies for composing a title. However, his book does so much more. It really looks at all the aspects of developmental editing, focusing on the different ways to improve a book (all except grammar and spelling). If at this point you’re wondering what developmental editing actually is, you can go to my editing page for more information.

Scott Norton's Developmental Editing book cover

The book deals with the developmental editing process. And does that in a way that really works for every one of the readers he identified on the cover. It clarifies the process of developmental editing from the perspective of not only the editor, but also the author and publisher. Any author still afraid that editors will ruin their work, should probably read this book. But let’s move on. I promised you reasons why you should read this book. 

1. The structure of the book is exemplary

I think the main strength of this book is that it practices what it preaches. It walks the walk. The organization of this book truly is a thing of beauty. Every chapter focuses on a specific aspect that a developmental editor might work on. And each chapter blends different strategies to illustrate the issue. 

  • First, Scott Norton introduces a “case study”, in narrative form. There’s usually an agent or a publisher who feel they have a potential bestseller on their hands. However, something feels off about the work, so they decide to hire a DE. The DE, then, works with both the agent/publisher and the author to make the book stronger. 
  • Then, there’s the concrete examples. If the DE in the case study needs to write a new Table of Contents, this ToC is included in the book in the form of a textbox. 
  • Other textboxes are informational in nature. They give more information on how to find a title, for example. Or how to become a developmental editor yourself. 

All of these elements really bring his points home. He manages to give a lot of information, without becoming boring. And the use of text boxes makes it easy for a variety of readers to pick and choose what is and is not relevant for them. But most impressively: it does so without compromising on cohesion. 

2. It helps make the problem concrete when you feel that something about your book is “off”

Whereas there are many books that talk about the different aspects of writing (tone, style, genre etc), this one is rather unique. It doesn’t discuss how to find the right word. Instead, it talks a lot about purpose and goals. Because how can you make your book successful if you haven’t defined what success looks like? So, if you know your sentences are good (or have decided they are not a priority right now) but feel like your book could be better: this book takes you through the steps needed to improve it. 

3. It is fun to read

The cases that Norton uses in his book are fun and engaging! I completely identified with many of the “characters.” I sighed with the editor when they were treated like the enemy. I rejoiced with the author when a piece of the puzzle fell into place. And the publisher… Ah well, they’re just doing their job. But honestly, they’re great and really open your eyes to the specific challenges of the different non-fiction genres. 

What if I need developmental editing?

If you, too have the feeling that something can be done to improve your book, you can hire me as your developmental editor. On my Contact page, you can either send me a message using the form, or schedule a first (free) meeting!