Tag Archives: preliminary evaluation

In Anticipation of the Results of a Developmental Edit

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…….

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Starting Out – When Ten Plus Five Equals One

Until the spring of 2012, my writing portfolio (if I had one) was composed of short scientific papers, academic research, a myriad of reports and report card comments over 27 years of teaching, and the rare false start attempt at creative writing. To say this writing portfolio marked the work of an aspiring writer would require a vivid imagination. T he dream of publishing a book seemed farther away than ever until I read about self publishing. After investigating the idea of self publishing through an internet search, and some inquiries through the “contact us” invite of a number of self publishing services, I finally selected a publisher and a publishing package  that looked like the right fit to reach my goal.

Once I paid the required fee and completed the required documents I was off to the races, and the struggles began. My struggles had nothing to do with the publisher, they were all inherently my own. Moderate dyslexia would complicate the process as usual. A look back at some few items of written work that from my elementary, middle, and high school years, had me wondering how I was permitted to graduate. The content in everything I had written was complete, and ideas were abundant, but spelling and grammar in my work were an embarrassment. In university, my written work in the humanities tended toward mediocrity but the content always pulled me through.

By the time I reached graduate school, I’d had enough of mediocrity, and took to the habit of writing and rewriting papers as many times as necessary. I rehearsed and practiced writing answers to possible exam questions so I would waste as little time as possible thinking of spelling and sentence structure. It became a matter of survival. I began producing better written work with respect to spelling, syntax, and grammar, and the content and ideas were presented in a more beautiful frames. Ironically, the disabled learner is doubly handicapped; they must cope their learning disability in  daily life, and have to work much harder to get a descent result for their efforts. With this background information my readers can well imagine what lie ahead for this novice writer.

After five major reads and revisions, I finally had a manuscript completed to the point of submitting it for a first evaluation. In addition to the publisher, I imposed on several others to act as readers and provide feed back. One of the chosen few was a retired English teacher and high school principal, who kindly took his time to do some copy editing. The publisher and all the readers gave me feedback on the content, clarity, and logic in presentation. As usual, content, ideas, and research were all very strong, but there were many weaknesses reflected in there comments. There were problems with the sequence of topics and some content that did not seem to fit in the context of the manuscript. In addition, there were pronoun use errors, some agreement errors, some incorrect word choice errors, and many others small but significant flaws.

There was much work left to do. After ten months of hard work, and five drafts of the original manuscript, I was determined to finish what I started. I had the opportunity to review the feedback from the publisher with a consultant and developmental editor, and was advised of some services that were available to me at a reasonable cost. I’ll write about the debrief experience in about 48 hours after a short period of R and R. Until then……

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