Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)

Editing is a tricky business. It requires analytical flair and creative panache, the patience of a saint and the vision of a writer. Transforming a manuscript into a book that edifies, inspires, and sells? That’s the job of the developmental editor, whose desk is the first stop for many manuscripts on the road to bookdom—a route ably mapped out in the pages of Developmental Editing.

Author Scott Norton has worked with a diverse range of authors, editors, and publishers, and his handbook provides an approach to developmental editing that is logical, collaborative, humorous, and realistic. He starts with the core tasks of shaping the proposal, finding the hook, and building the narrative or argument, and then turns to the hard work of executing the plan and establishing a style.

Developmental Editing includes detailed case studies featuring a variety of nonfiction books—election-year polemic, popular science, memoir, travel guide—and authors ranging from first-timer to veteran, journalist to scholar. Handy sidebars offer advice on how to become a developmental editor, create effective illustration programs, and adapt sophisticated fiction techniques (such as point of view, suspense, plotting, character, and setting) to nonfiction writing.  

Norton’s book also provides freelance copyeditors with a way to earn higher fees while introducing more creativity into their work lives. It gives acquisitions, marketing, and production staff a vocabulary for diagnosing a manuscript’s flaws and techniques for transforming it into a bestseller. And perhaps most importantly, Developmental Editing equips authors with the concrete tools they need to reach their audiences.

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

Write Publish Promote at Cowgirlheart Media
Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we'll navigate the path to publishing success.

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3 Comments

  1. Now I know what I want to be when I grow up… I heard about Scott Norton’s Developmental Editing from a classmate–a colleague of the author–in Berkeley’s Professional Sequence in Editing. I had never before heard the term “developmental editing,” but immediately ordered the book, which I rarely do without the benefit of supporting reviews (since the book was just coming out, there were none at the time). My first response: This is an extraordinary book, and should be added to any short list of essential resources for editing, publishing,…

  2. Editing nonfiction “Developmental Editing” is written for freelance editors of nonfiction, not fiction. A few things could be of use to fiction editors too, but overall, I would recommend another book if you are looking for a book on editing fiction.

  3. A Unique Book on Editing In teaching courses on editing at UC Berkeley extension, I assigned various books that focused on grammar, usage, proofreading, copyediting, and publishing. I searched for a book on developmental editing. None. ” fifteenth edition, merely mentions the subject. …

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