Developmental Editing

“I found Joe’s developmental edit to be exceptional. He zeroed in on character development, plot issues, and the interaction between characters–issues with which I had struggled as I finished the manuscript. I knew something just didn’t work, and the several agents who had requested a full also knew something just didn’t work. Joe tapped into these in a positive and frank overview. He helped me immensely. With his input, I saw the manuscript in a different light. I have recommended Joe to several other writers, even if they are not independently publishing. I recommend anyone have Joe take a look at your manuscript before you send a final draft to any agent.” – Anne MacDonald


What is Developmental Editing?

Developmental Editing is the editorial process before copy editing that is dedicated to making your book or story the best it can be. Developmental editors read your full manuscript and offer recommendations for how to improve big-picture issues like structure, narrative, pace, characterization, and more.

Think about it in terms of the creation of your favorite TV show: One screenwriter might get the final credit, but their job would not be complete without the team of writers at their round table, sharing concerns and improvements to the writer’s ideas in order to make sure that they really nail their story. In that way, your developmental editor is your teammate.

On the editor’s due date, the author receives an editorial document that shares the issues they discovered in the manuscript along with recommendations for how the author can approach their next revision. At IBR, the developmental editing process does not end when you receive that editorial document. After you read the developmental edit, your editor is available for a phone consultation to answer any lingering questions you may have about your manuscript or edit.

When should you hire a developmental editor?

First, you need a full manuscript. So quit the excuses and get writing!

If you want to get the most out of the developmental editing process, you should also have completed as many rounds of self-editing that you could possibly muster. Of course, you can hire a developmental editor after your first draft, but your editor will likely address issues with your manuscript that you already plan to fix. Fix them first, then send it to your editor. You’ll be glad you did.

At IBR, you can also work with your editor on multiple drafts. We want to do everything we can to make sure you’re happy with your final product and that your readers are too. Ask us below about our returning edit prices.

Who will be conducting your developmental edit?

Joe Walters is the editor-in-chief of Independent Book Review, and he will be your developmental editor. In addition to his promoting and editorial work at IBR, he has experience as a staff member for the now-defunct Indianola Review, as the marketing director at a small press in Oregon, and currently as the blurb and book review specialist at Paper Raven Books. He approaches each new developmental edit from a reader’s perspective first and then provides tested solutions to big-picture issues thanks to his experience in reviewing, publishing, and writing. Get to know his developmental editing perspective through his article, “31 Specific Strategies for Improving Your Novel.”

Rates & Turnaround Time

Joe Walters completes his developmental edits at $.008 per word. In order to discover exactly what price your developmental edit will be, multiply your book’s word count by .008. Here is a small list of the roundabout prices:

  • 45,000 words = $360
  • 60,000 words = $480
  • 75,000 words = $600
  • 90,000 words = $720
  • 110,000 words = $880
  • Above 110,000 words = Contact us. Let’s see if we can save you some money

At this time, Joe is able to complete his developmental edits in 8 weeks. If you need your developmental edit before that time, no problem. We can work together on expedited prices to reach your goal. Just mention it in the contact box below.

How to get started

  1. Finish drafting your book. (You can do it!)
  2. Revise your book. Make your main character stronger. Fully develop your secondary narratives. Improve your book as much as you can (and consider some beta readers too).
  3. Fill out the form below. Get your free sample developmental edit of your first 10 pages.
  4. If you liked the sample edit, awesome! Tell your editor you’d like to move forward, and you will be offered payment plan options and sent a contract to finalize the due date.

Have any additional questions? Ready to sign up for your free sample developmental edit? Fill out the form below and let’s get started.


Interested in editorial services on a strict budget? Consider these services: