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Can Freelance Developmental Editors be Right for Authors with Traditional Publishing Goals?

Some people will tell you not to pay for an editor if you plan to traditionally publish; after all, the publisher will hire editors to make the changes they want. This is true, but that only happens after your book is signed. And getting signed is not always an easy process. Competition for agents and publishing deals is very tough right now, so if you aren't sure that your manuscript is ready to compete, here are some questions you may ask yourself to decide if a developmental editor can help you prepare your manuscript for querying and submission.

Are you within the right range for the word count?

Agents and editors will reject a manuscript for word count alone, so missing this important checkbox may severely hinder your publishing chances. A developmental editor can advise you on ways to adjust your word count to meet industry standards while still having a satisfying plotline and good pacing.

Are you familiar enough with the industry to meet the expectations for your genre and age range?

Editors who know the industry can help you fit the latest genre and age range guidelines, as well as hit checkboxes that will give your manuscript an advantage during querying. If you don't know these things, you may want to check for editors who have worked in the industry for a long time or have connections to the traditional publishing world so that they can help you see how the industry will view your manuscript.

Do you have plot weaknesses in your manuscript that you don't know how to fix on your own?

Agents and publishing houses are looking for manuscripts with relatively minor plot problems. A manuscript that needs major changes will often end up becoming fundamentally different after editing, so agents and editors have to be careful about taking these projects on. Many agents and editors reject manuscripts with major plot issues or offer R&Rs (revise and resubmit) to give themselves a clearer picture of the final product. Cleaning up these issues with a developmental editor can help put your best foot forward.

So before submitting and querying, you may find yourself benefiting from working with a developmental editor. If you do want to find a developmental editor now, check out my post about choosing an editor. And if you haven't already, make sure to read my post about getting ready for an editor so you can get the best use out of your money.

If answering these questions has led you to believe that a developmental editor is not the right kind of editor for your manuscript, you may want to check out my blog post about whether substantive editors can help prepare a manuscript for traditional publishing.

If answering these questions led you to decide you don't want to hire an editor, you may want to check out my blog posts on submitting and querying. Good luck!

About my coauthor:

Elestrei Engrei was a huge help at providing the author perspective for this post.

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