copy editing vs developmental editing

Copy Editing versus Developmental Editing

What is the difference between these two levels of editing? Early on in the book’s formation, developmental editing may be needed, whereas later on, once the structure is in place, copy editing will zoom in on the paragraph and sentence level.

As a copy editor (websites, tenders, newsletters, and now books), I’m comfortable with suggesting wording to say more effectively what I believe the author wanted it to mean. I call this line editing and it is done best with Microsoft Word and Track Changes, which can be accepted or denied.

The price for copy editing books, if at fixed rates, generally ranges from 3 cents to 4 cents per word (or $30 to $40 per 1,000 words). The 5th National Survey of Editors (2010) showed $71 an hour as average in Queensland for copy editing. My rates are slightly less.

Developmental Editor (DE) goes beyond the copy but is done in the initial stages. DEs help a book evolve to a final single theme, making suggestions where evidence can be added, structure can be improved, and bridges between topics can be made. We can also bring together the writing voice as we spend more time to focus on the overall picture first. The price for this runs to pretty much anything. My charge is usually AU 6 to 7 cents per word and a little more for coaching, depending on what the writing and writer needs.

As an author, writing and life experience counts, as it does for editors. The DE must work deeply with authors and support the work’s direction. As an author, you should choose a DE (also called a Structural Editor) with a focus in your genre, and ideally an interest in your general topic area. For example, a fiction DE would not make the best editor for a business book.

For developmental editing (now offered as writing coaching), my preferred genres are:

  • Personal Development and Spiritual
  • Success and biography (of others)
  • Business: marketing, branding, leadership, sales, time management (blogging experience here).

A line editing project I enjoyed was “Selling is Like S#x”, where I edited the book twice, two years apart!  Many salespeople would love to put their philosophies in writing, but their gift is more verbal than written, and this was the case here.

Another editing job that helped the author was of an eBook, “Creating Healthy Life Habits”, where the editing suggestions sometimes drew on my reading in psychology and my knowledge of referencing.

Topics that I have some affinity with are:

  • Health – nutrition and natural health therapies, like chiropractic, massage, yoga, dance etc.  (Copy editing/mentoring for Yoga for Pregnancy)
  • Wealth   (my writing includes saving tips, investing principles, financial mindset, articles on property investing, ghost written mini eBooks on SMSFs and Trusts)
  • Personal transformation  (see my Create your New Life of Abundance, How to Kick Bad Spending Habits. Also help with Switch the Bitch)
  • Business building from scratch  (see my Power Marketing: An Aussie Guide to Business Growth)

I’m happy to have an open conversation about whatever topic you are writing on or considering, and whether we are a good match. This has to be right. In fact, there is other work I can do while I wait for the ideal author/book combination. I’m ready to make your work shine and in due course attract interest from target readers. I feel that’s the overarching purpose of a Developmental Book Editor.


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