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What is Developmental Editing?

You have a great idea for a book but don’t know how to get started.

You’ve started on your manuscript—and you’re stuck.

You’ve written a book before and had a tough go of it—and now understand the importance of having someone be your coach, reader’s advocate, instructional design assistant, sanity-checker, or any combination you need.

Do any of these situations sound familiar? If so, you need a developmental editor (DE)—and I’m available to help if you are creating content in these focus areas:

  • Musicology (especially jazz)
  • Pan-African studies (all)
  • Natural history (especially birds and birding)
  • Alternative medicine (herbalism, Eastern modalities, electromedicine)
  • Computer science (but the tech and outcomes have to be really compelling)

Developmental Editing Process

The developmental editing process works best if we can collaborate from the very beginning, but I can provide assistance at any stage of your project. Developmental editing phases can include:

  • Discovering the audience(s)
  • Developing the basic outline and content outline
  • Applying instructional design and story development strategies
  • And ultimately asking and answering up front all those pesky yet crucial “Why should the reader care?” questions.

As you create your manuscript, I’ll read and provide feedback on each chapter to keep you on point and in the groove.

Please keep in mind that the DE’s responsibilities include asking hard questions, challenging assumptions, and providing constructive criticism. Also know that line editing, copy editing, proofreading and general grammatical nitpicking are not part of any developmental editing process. That stuff typically happens afterward.

For technical books, especially those that include software code examples and exercises, the DE process may also include scheduling and organizing peer and expert reviews and helping the author assess any revisions that are needed, based on feedback from those reviewers. Coordinating those reviews will be billed at an hourly rate to be determined.

I am also available for coaching sessions, no matter if you are a first-time author trying to get across the finish line alive and sane or an old pro with a touch of writer’s block.

Please note that I provide developmental editing and coaching services only. I no longer offer copyediting or proofreading. Thank you.


Recent Projects

Placeholder cover image for a book currently in development

The Wonder of It All

by William Judge (Propertius Press, in progress)

Placeholder cover image for a book currently in development

Sacrifices and Betrayals: Black Africa, Black India, Black America

by Cherryl Garner, PhD (in progress)

Cover artwork for A Scrum Book: The Spirit of the Game

A Scrum Book: The Spirit of the Game

by Jeff Sutherland, James O. Coplien, and the Scrum Patterns Team (Pragmatic Press)

Career Experience

Currently, I serve as associate nonfiction editor for Propertius Press, volunteer proofreader for the Journal of Caribbean Ornithology, and consultant for XPM2 Partners. And—obviously—I selectively take on projects as a freelancer. My prior roles include:

Rates (Sliding Scale Available)

Developmental Editing

$5 per page, plus $40 per 30-minute phone/message app call for prewriting activities, chapter review feedback, brainstorming, etc.

Coaching Only

30 Minutes – $50
1 Hour – $90

Phone, Skype, WhatsApp, Google Meet, etc.

Consider visiting this page to see if we are simpatico.

Contact me at sean (at) seandennis (dot) com.

Little Blue Heron at Mitchelville Freedom Park, Hilton Head, SC
Little Blue Heron—photo taken at Mitchelville Freedom Park, Hilton Head, SC

Tell me about your book project!