The best advice I can give you: find someone to help you with developmental editing.

Doesn’t matter if you pay a professional editor to help you or get some friends to help you out.

Do it. It’s indispensable.

1) Find the right person to work with

When paying a professional editor, you want someone who has a few years of experience in the industry.

The whole point of paying for a professional is to get access to their knowledge of the industry, specifically the genre you want to be published in.

Why be genre-specific? Because the readership is vastly different in every genre.

And you want someone who has a good understanding of the target audience for your book so that they can help you make a book that’s going to be very attractive to that cohort.

You want an editor whose knowledge you can trust.

The right editor will also be compatible with your personality; work well with you.

They should understand your writing style and endeavour to not edit out your voice. They should help you communicate more effectively while still keeping it all sounding like you.

Your editor should give you brutally honest feedback and communicate openly about what they see – while still respecting your vision.

Be wary of developmental help that only tells you nice things about your writing.

Look for people who will challenge your writing, who ask questions, and who can tell you what makes them appreciate something they enjoyed.

2) Be prepared for rewrites

I know a lot of new writers feel like they should be able to just get a manuscript on paper and be able to be done with it.

But the truth is that once you get another set of critical eyes on your text, you may be looking at rewriting entire sections of the book.

A developmental editor may completely shake up the foundation of your manuscript, resulting in a substantial rewrite.

Sometimes your editor will recommend you cut out sections you’re very emotionally attached to.

And other times your editor will tell you that something needs more explaining because it doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t know everything that you know.

You may have to reconsider certain plot elements, characters, settings, or conversations that aren’t telling your story the way you think it is.

An editor should never force you to take their suggestions.

But they should be able to tell you why they think it’s important to implement the changes they’re suggesting.

If you find that you’re constantly butting heads with your editor, it’s a good sign that you aren’t working with the right person.

3) Be open-minded

Feedback and debate are critical for a better narrative.

And in this debate, your editor should always side with the story.

It’s your editor’s job to advocate for a stronger narrative – they’re the ones who are there to defend the story elements that cannot defend themselves.

And a good sign that you’re working with the right person, is when they give you feedback that will only strengthen your narrative elements.

4) Focus on the big picture

Developmental editing is comprehensive. Don’t get bogged down in nitpicking.

Line edits are when you want to go wild with nitpicking.

Developmental editing is all about the bigger ideas and getting the main elements of your story to work together.

So, don’t sweat the small stuff just yet and focus on the logic of it all.

It’s a lot less work to fix those big elements in developmental stages than go back later and have to rewrite a much bigger section.

5) Practice your patience

Editing takes a long time and you’re going to spend most of the time writing a book in revisions.

Learn to love it.

And addressing just one round of notes from a developmental editor or reader isn’t anywhere near the end of it.

As I said, changing one section will often lead you to adjust other sections, so be patient.

Time is one of the most crucial elements of the creative process.

Give it the time it needs so that your story can be as strong as possible. It’ll have a better chance of longevity in the market when you give it a fighting chance.

Your editor’s job is to help you stay on track and stay focused on telling the story you want to tell, not lead you down some random rabbit hole.

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