A few weeks have passed since submitting my work for phase one of a manuscript development process, a so called developmental edit. Pre-development responses from four different readers of the manuscript highlighted similar issues.
* points are often well made and supported by adequate research
* the writing is dense with ideas, perhaps too dense
* the prose is too cerebral at times
* the reader needs to be captivated rather than captured by the content
* the work as a whole has a slight disjointed quality about it that caused these readers to lose the thread of the writing from time to time
* thoughts and ideas are expressed which relate to the theme of the book but may not contribute to the sense of it
* some small sections of content are replicated or redundant
* the text does not engage the reader at all times
* many titles and subtitles do not engage the reader and need to be redone
* text formatting conventions and styles are not consistent throughout the text
* two of the four readers providing preliminary assessment of the work, pointed out a need for careful and consistent application of grammatical and punctuation rules
There were a few other comments, but this list on its own suggests that there is much yet to do.
I expect the results of the developmental edit to be much more than a list of deficiencies. The results of the edit will vary depending on the editor. A developmental editor does not usually engage in rewriting any of the text, else their work becomes more like that of a ghost writer. While one shouldn’t expect any rewriting of content to result from the developmental edit, suggestions on how to best express an idea, accompanied by concrete examples are certainly expected. In addition, it is reasonable to expect:
* suggestions related to sequencing ideas
* suggestions and examples related to transitioning from one section of the manuscript to the next, or even one paragraph to the next, are given
* suggestions related to the superfluity of some content
* suggestions related to style and word choice
* suggestions as to redundancies and repetitions in the work
* suggestions related to areas of the text that require enhanced clarity and expanded content or both
* suggestions related to consistency of expression related to certain ideas in the text
* suggestions related to refining the manuscript to the target audience
The usefulness of results from this stage of the editing process depends on the editor selected for the task by the publisher. I, as an author, have no input over who is selected and no contact with the individual providing the edit. If all goes well, the feedback received will be more substantive (more like a substantive edit) in nature. I already have the broad strokes from an editorial evaluation provided by the publisher that brought me the stage of engaging in the developmental process. I am supposed to be able to work through the rewriting process with the support of a consultant who is also a developmental editor in his own right. I will report on the quality of the first phase of the editing process as soon as I receive the edited manuscript, and keep you appraised of the support received to get the manuscript ready for the next two phases of the development process; the content edit and the quality edit.
Only time will tell how much more work needs to be done and how much real support is provided. More about substantive editing in the next post…….