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Welcome to my home on the web. I am a developmental editor and writing coach, and my goal is to help authors get their stories, analyses, ideas, and lessons learned ready for publication. You’ll work more efficiently and with better focus, have more fun writing, and ultimately create a better final product.

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 subject areas:

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

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.

Developmental Editing Process

If you are thinking about writing a book but haven’t started yet, now is the time to connect with me. Here’s what we’ll do together:

  • Discover and understand the audience(s): Who are we talking to? What are they like?
  • Develop the content outline: What do we want them to know?
  • Apply instructional design and story development strategies: How are we going to tell them?
  • Review and fine-tune your content: Did we include too much information or provide unnecessary details? Did we forget something? Are we speaking in the correct voice for the audience?
  • And ultimately ask and answer 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.

If you have already written a draft manuscript, we can still work together. I will provide suggestions for improvement while reviewing your content as both a beta reader and a developmental editor. I will also let you know when I see awesomeness.

I will be a strong advocate, a deep thinker, and sometimes a tough critic because I want you to create your best work—something that helps the world become kinder, gentler, more just, and more sustainable.

Asking hard questions, challenging assumptions, and providing constructive criticism is the responsibility of any developmental editor. Copy editing, proofreading, and general grammatical nitpicking are not usually part of the developmental editing process. That stuff typically happens afterward.

For technical books, especially those that include software code examples and exercises, the developmental editing 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.

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.

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!