You’ve got the ideas, but you can’t always find the right words.

You thought your book might be done, but your beta readers have reservations.

You know you’re probably being too wordy. Overcomplicating things. Have you explained that thing too many times? You’re not sure what to cut and what to keep.

You’re not sure if your argument even makes sense at all. It usually comes together in the end - but not before you’ve spent far too long agonizing over every other sentence.

And that one character? The one who always seems in the way? What are you supposed to do with her?

Writing your book

You loved writing the book on your own, but now you wish you had a collaborator to talk through these problems with.

Copy editing will help you find errors like typos and word choice, but a good developmental editor will also make sure that you're making sense. A developmental editor will make sure there are no holes in your thought process throughout the piece, that you haven’t forgotten a key piece of evidence that your character needs. A developmental editor will catch an inconsistent timeline, or suggest restructuring that strengthens the story.

Often we are too close to our own work to see what might be missing. We automatically read into the text our original intentions and meanings, regardless of what the prose ACTUALLY is saying.

The proof of your prose lies with the reader, not the writer so you want to be sure the reader sees and understands exactly what you intend them to. For that you need another person – a developmental editor.

How do you know you need a developmental editor?

You need a developmental editor when your beta readers can't put their finger on what is wrong, but they know it’s something.

Your beta readers are your friends -- they care about you and they want to help you put together the best book possible. But most times all they are able to articulate is how a certain character or scene makes them feel.

A developmental editor can translate those concerns into actionable steps, isolate what is wrong and work with the author to fix it.

You need a developmental editor when you’re not sure your big idea is coming across.

You have a theme to tie the whole story together, but is it coming through? You feel like you need someone to take a look at what you have and help you brainstorm what is missing. You wish you had a collaborator, but only at this one stage of the process.

Amy T SchubertYou need a developmental editor when you want an unbiased assessment of your book.

Whether you bring me on early to look at a very first draft and restructure it, or you bring me on later in the process to identify problematic areas to be patched up before sending it off to readers …. A developmental editor acts very similar to a collaborator to help you work through the manuscript and make it as strong as possible.

I have a Master's degree in English and have spent 6 years as a full-time copy editor. Between college/grad school and my most recent day job, I have been an editor for more than 12 years. I've been a reader much much longer. I can help point you to further research related to your topic or suggest alternatives for the organization and structure.

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Development editing is the key that will help you grow your fan base. Identifying and addressing the big picture weaknesses with your manuscript increases your reader engagement. When a beta reader or editor gets stopped by an inconsistency, a pace problem, a believability issue, it is likely that same issue will cause readers to lose interest, and to disengage. As writers we need to do everything possible to prevent that. I will suggest methods to correct those obstacles -- often a couple different options that will help you come up with a solution that works best for you. A developmental editor will help you improve your craft as a writer, making each book better and more magnetic than the one before. And making readers come back for more.

How it works:

Proofreading

  1. You send me the best version of what you currently have. I don’t want to meddle or make assumptions or suggest entirely new scenes just because I don’t have the finished version of chapters 9 and 10.
  2. I will read your book at least two times all the way through. The first time will be pretty quickly to get a sense of the overall story, initial impressions and anything glaring. The second will be a more detailed look at what changes are need, what would be most effective and a full explanation for you of what I recommend.
  3. I send you a fully marked-up document with all changes tracked, as well as a second document full of my notes and recommendations, and explanations for my thoughts.

Some of the things I look for include …

Consistency: Did your character get beat up, is bruised and bloody but none of the other characters appear to notice? Did your town begin as a small village by a forest, and then somehow end up a bustling harbor town a couple chapters later?

Characters: Is your character acting and reacting in a logical manner? Do I believe him? Does she have a back story that contradicts her current actions? Is he active or passive in his scenes (and do you want him to stay that way)? Is she problematic in some way - like verbally abusing her boyfriend (when that is not your intention)?

Structure: Do you need to tighten up your first couple chapters to get the reader into the story? Is your prologue necessary? Is the evidence presented in a logical manner? Would the climax work better if you kept this piece of information secret from the reader a little bit longer? Does that 30-page section at his mom’s house really move the story forward at all?

Distractions: Do you tend to use the same phrase over and over? Was the climax of the book set up ahead of time or did it confuse me when it showed up out of nowhere? Do two of your characters have names that are just too similar and keep tripping me up?

Developmental editing is charged by the word and the level of editing needed– so whether you’re writing a long fantasy novel or a short crime serial the rate is the same. The range varies from $0.03 to $0.10 per word, depending on the level of editing needed. If you are interested in booking, I'll look at a small sample of your manuscript to determine how much to charge and we can move forward from there.

Developmental editing service includes:

  • full mark-up of your document with ‘track changes’ so you can accept or decline any of my recommendations to match your personal style
  • full analysis of the overall arc/argument or thematic thesis of your work
  • solid, usable recommendations for how to correct any plot holes or structure errors
  • highlighting of problematic characters, actions or other elements that distract from your story
  • outside research or further reading as needed
  • highlighting awkward sentences or language, with recommendations for words and phrases to substitute
  • proofreading for punctuation, grammar, spelling and consistency (as I notice them. You may want to hire a separate proofreader after you have revised)
  • optional phone call or chat to discuss my comments, recommendations and any questions you may have after getting my edit back
  • <a href="http://www.jamiemaltman.com/">Jamie Maltman</a>, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00N0WB6LC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00N0WB6LC&linkCode=as2&tag=landr-20&linkId=QCUSZKLPIBCBOK2F"><em>Blood of the Water</em></a>
    I enlisted Amy's help on my second book, which I already felt was better than my first, and she helped me take it up several notches. The most useful things she helped me do were:

    • -- Work on some unintended character issues that my alpha reader identified, but couldn't give strong enough feedback so that I could fix them. With Amy's help I zeroed in on them and later beta readers didn't report any issues at all. In fact, one beta reader was surprised how little feedback she had for me compared to book 1, and one of my first reviewers highlighted the initially problematic character as one of the strengths of the book!
    • -- Significantly tightened up the pacing in a few places through some reordering and streamlining of scenes and sequences
    • -- Identify some tics in my writing that I'm now very aware of.
    • -- Helped me better integrate one portion of the story into the whole, or face a nuclear alternative.
    The result is a much stronger book, and one I'm very proud to be releasing.

    Jamie Maltman, author of Blood of the Water

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How does it work?

After you contact me, I will ask for a small excerpt (about 10% of the full manuscript) to edit and assess how much is needed.

This gives you an idea of how I work, what I notice, what I might recommend, as well as allows me to give you an exact quote on the full job.

I require 30% deposit to begin the edit, and the remainder due upon delivery. Most writers will receive a fully marked up manuscript document (with all changes and edits indicated) as well as a separate Word document of my notes and thorough discussion of the strengths and weaknesses I have identified.

How much does it cost?

Depending on how much work needs to be done, you will be quoted between $0.03 per word and $0.10 per word (most books fall between $0.03 and $0.06 per word). Full cost is based on the word count of the document you send to me, regardless of any deletions or additions I make during the edit. Payments go through PayPal.

How long does it take?

This depends on the amount of editing that needs to be done. I will always read through your book at least twice, possibly a third time depending on what I am editing for. I can generally edit about 40,000 to 50,000 words each week.

What if I don't agree with your assessment?

That is no problem at all. I act as a sounding board and guide. Being an indie author means that you get final say. You get to make the decisions about what edits go in the book and what are tossed.

I will be providing my strongest opinions (and why something is not working), as well as recommendations for correcting, but it is up to you to decide if you agree for your own manuscript.

I really only need a proofreader. Can you just do that?

Yes, I do offer proofreading as a stand-alone service for 2 cents per word.

However I ALSO include proofreading (correcting typos, punctuation, grammar) for all of my developmental editing clients. Most developmental or content editors do not.

  • E.W. Pierce</a>, coordinator of <a href="http://beyondthegatebook.wordpress.com/"><em>Beyond the Gate</em></a> and author of the anthology's Upon a Misty Morning
    I worked very closely with Amy during the Beyond the Gate project and was continually impressed by her professionalism and organizational skills. She helped educate the authors (many of whom had never had a story edited before) about what a development edit was and how best to prepare for one. She developed a work stream to smoothly handle stories from 20+ authors, all coming in around the same 2-week window. Amy worked efficiently, turning around the edits in a matter of days, which was quite impressive considering some stories went to almost 10,000 words. Amy was also a part-time project manager, helping coordinate and track the editing process. And she provided valuable advice and guidance along the way, including how best to structure the book and market it. Amy was a huge part of whatever success Beyond the Gate enjoys, and it couldn't have happened without her.

    As it happens, I also had a story in the anthology, so I have some feedback on Amy as an editor as well. My copy was fairly clean, but Amy still cataloged logic issues I’d never even considered, things like: whether one character should be using a briefcase or a suitcase, given what was inside; questioning how long an airship takes to fly cross-country, and then researching how long it takes a zeppelin to cross Great Britain as an example (yes, she really did that). Her comments helped ensure a level of internal consistency that will hold-up to reader scrutiny and keep them firmly in the story, suspending their disbelief.

    Amy also identified some tics that I didn't even know I had. Turns out I love the em dash, but it’s an abusive relationship. Amy correctly pointed out that less is more, but often (okay, usually) it’s not needed at all. She doesn't just point out what’s wrong, but suggests ways to improve it, and this feedback is given in a direct, non-offensive manner.

    If you get the chance to work with Amy I highly recommend it!

    E.W. Pierce, coordinator of Beyond the Gate and author of the anthology's Upon a Misty Morning
  • George Hogge
    I love Amy (in the most professional way of course). When I finished the final draft of my story, I knew I needed an editor. This was not because of all the advice books and videos told me so, but because I learned grammar and punctuation from Moses. Not knowing any editors, I went to my imaginary buddies Sean and Johnny (they are not imaginary, but i imagine being buddies with them). Their website, SterlingandStone.net, had blog posts from Amy that I had read while I was learning. I decided that if I could afford her, then that and Sean and Johnny's recommendation would be good enough. I submitted a sample to her. After reviewing the sample she offered a very reasonable per word rate. I sent her the entire story. She quickly edited the grammar and punctuation and gave suggestions on how to make the story better. I am much happier with the final version of my story than I was before Amy's input. I have no reservations recommending her to my friends (real or imagined).
    George Hogge

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