Why Outsource Developmental Editing?

If you are not familiar with developmental editing then you have a long way to go. I am editing my debut novel (long story short: I entered a writing competition, the deadline is less than a week from now, September 15, to be exact), and I realize I am too emotionally attached to my work. Of course, I am, I mean, I am the author. Editing becomes much more complicated when you cannot step away from the work and look at it objectively.

Developmental editing is a form of writing support that comes into play before or during the production of a publishable manuscript, especially in the area of non-fiction writing. As explained by Scott Norton in his book Developmental editing: a handbook for freelancers, authors, and publishers, developmental editing involves “significant structuring or restructuring of a manuscript’s discourse”.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Editing my own novella opened my eyes to the necessity of outsourcing developmental editing.

I realized this, because most of my beta readers had trouble connecting to my story. I have this habit of saying the sentences out loud while writing, so I ‘swallow’ words. So, there are many words missing from sentences. But while writing, my brain thinks I have written them down because I said them out loud.

Besides this, there is a lack of backstory. I had a different idea of providing the backstory, but they disagree. I forget that my book makes sense to me because I wrote it. Because of this, I genuinely forgot to think about whether it will make sense to my target audience.

Here is where a developmental editor comes in handy.

A developmental editor is someone who will read your book with clarity (think objectivity) and help reshape your book. You might have a good idea, but the way you are bringing it across is not so great. It fucking sucks ass.

I tried my hand at developmental editing. This meant I had to take an emotional step back and read it as a potential customer.

What have I learned about the editing process? For starters, I cut out a lot of crap. By this I mean scenes that were not working, characters that did not drive the plot forward, the need to switch up chapters (chronological order), or scrapping certain chapters altogether.

Another important part is the pace of the story. Some parts it just drags worse than a Tyler Perry show, other parts it is faster than The Flash. I need to find the middle ground.

And you do you know what I am still having problems with? Coming up with a good title! If you are planning to go the traditional publishing route, this does not matter, the publisher will most likely change the name, anyway. But this is for a competition, so I think they will want my manuscript to have a name… right?

I contacted a Surinamese writer (she was rude as fuck) and asked if she knew developmental editors. She didn’t. I speak Dutch, but I only know English-language developmental editors…

Maybe this is because I NEVER thought of publishing anything in Dutch. I have a severe dislike for this language, I seriously do. While writing the book in Dutch, I had never felt stupider in my life. No, not even during math class in high school. Writing in Dutch was a challenge because I realized how BAD my Dutch actually is.

I have been reading a lot of novels in Dutch. When I watch movies on Netflix I choose Dutch subtitles. So, sometimes when they say something in English, I pause it and read how the translators phrased it (sometimes their translations make NO SENSE!). Not because I do not know how to say it in Dutch, I do. But once someone told me that I speak Dutch like a faulty translator app… As if it is literally translated from a foreign language into Dutch. Maybe because he speaks Dutch as spoken in The Netherlands, and I speak Dutch as spoken in Suriname.


I plan to self-publish, so I will invest in developmental editing in the future. For now, it is not necessary.

At the moment, I do not need to invest in that. I am honest and objective enough to tell myself when something is not working. Coddling myself is something I stopped doing A LONG TIME AGO!

First drafts are usually shit, that is a given. But I know there is a great novella here. It just needs some tweaking. I will do as much as I can when it comes to developmental editing, but I know they will make changes to make it marketable.


Tiara Ray

I am grateful & blessed to have the life I live. (Soon to be) Traditionally published & self-published author in her mid-thirties. I unsuccessfully tried changing this picture numerous times, so I just left it. I wish you lots of love & may you get what you need. <3

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