Editorial Services I offer:

  • Manuscript evaluation, which consists of a letter containing my overall feedback about story problems I’ve identified
  • Developmental editing, which includes a manuscript edit with editorial queries that show how to make the necessary revisions
  • Coaching, such as reviewing query letters to agents, advising on how to find and submit materials to agents, and solving writing-related problems, including the business of writing. For coaching inquiries, please just email me at jennifer@jenniferlawler.com

For authors on a budget, I also offer supervised edits from students of editing.

Scroll down further for more information on what various types of edits include.

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What Developmental/Story Editing Is

Most of my editorial clients are looking for developmental/story editing – an editorial process that looks at the big-picture problems that might be affecting your manuscript. For example, for fiction, depending on the genre of your novel, this edit will include looking at:

    • overall pacing and tension
      • loose plot threads
      • subplots should feed into main plot
      • plot events should be clear/understandable
      • plot should be plausible/believable
      • action sequences should not be confusing
    • characterization
      • characters should have motivations for the things they do
      • characters should have arcs—they start at one place and end at another
      • character continuity—characters should not suddenly behave differently with no explanation/motivation
      • characters should not sound/act/think exactly alike
      • the manuscript should not overwhelm readers with too many characters to keep track of
      • the number of POV/viewpoint characters should be appropriate and the POV characters should be the right ones
    • POV and perspective
      • the story should be told from the most appropriate point-of-view (first, close third, omniscient third)
      • head-hopping should be addressed
      • scenes should reflect who the POV/viewpoint character is
    • setting
      • clearly rendered setting using all five senses
      • details should be chosen for what they can tell readers about the character and situation
    • continuity issues
          • timeline
          • repetition
          • consistency of character actions
          • consistency of descriptions
    • appropriateness of story (and scenes) to intended audience

Types of Editing (Definitions)

If you’ve written a novel or a nonfiction book, you know you’re going to need an editor to ensure you’ve written the best book possible.

But what kind of editing do you need?

A developmental edit, sometimes called a content edit or story edit, identifies and helps you solve big-picture problems. In fiction, this might be poor character development or the lack of a strong central conflict. In nonfiction, this might be an argument that isn’t clearly supported or information presented in the wrong order. Typically, the manuscript is finished and the author has revised it to the best of their ability before a developmental editor begins their work. A typical developmental edit includes a manuscript edit with comments (called editorial queries) on the page to help you understand how to make your story stronger, along with a revision letter to help guide your revision process.

A subset of developmental editing is manuscript evaluation, which typically consists of a revision letter but no manuscript edits or queries. Because it is less time-consuming it is usually less expensive than a full developmental edit.

Book coaching can help you at any point where you’re stuck. If you need help developing a concept or fleshing out an idea, if you’re halfway through the first draft and can’t figure out where to go from here, if you’re not sure what to do once you’ve written “the end,” a book coach can help. They typically work one-on-one, on an hourly basis.

Beta reads and critiques are conducted by readers who simply provide overall feedback about what they liked and didn’t like about your manuscript. These are not intended to provide informed opinions by experienced publishing professionals; they are just intended to reflect what the reader experiences as they read.

Copyediting is a type of editing intended to ensure that a manuscript conforms to generally accepted grammar, spelling, and usage standards.

Line editing is a type of editing that helps authors improve their prose and to address certain smaller-picture problems like using awkward sentences, over-exposition, telling rather than showing, among others. This is a type of copyediting that is less concerned about making sure your manuscript adheres to a style guide and more concerned about polishing your words.

Proofreading is the final defense against error. A proofreader checks for egregious errors to make sure they don’t wind up in the published book. If you hire no other editor, at least hire a proofreader to make sure you don’t turn off readers with typos and other errors. These are very hard for writers to catch in their own work.

In traditional publishing, a manuscript usually goes through three rounds of editorial: the developmental round, the copyediting round, and the proofreading round.

Since independent authors rarely have the budget to do all three, they will often pick a developmental editor to help them address overall story problems and a proofreader to help them catch any stray errors that remain after the revision process. The developmental editor and the proofreader should not be the same person, as it is too easy for someone who has worked on the manuscript before to miss errors.