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Note: The First Date is a required first step for all new editing projects.
Most manuscripts go through multiple rounds of revision, and while some authors can polish their own work to near-perfection, many find it helpful to work with a professional editor from the developmental phase. The categories presented below are not entirely distinct, and the lines between them often blur, which is one of the reasons I use the First Date process to evaluate your manuscript and illustrate what editing would look like for your work specifically.
Developmental editing is often the first step in the editing process, and as the name implies, it helps writers develop a rough draft into a smooth, coherent, artfully crafted work. At the developmental level, I look at the big picture of your manuscript, identifying scenes or sections that are working well, in addition to those that should be expanded, reduced, or eliminated. I identify awkwardly written passages and inconsistencies or contradictions. I can also help with things like plot, character development, showing rather than telling, pacing, composition, point of view, dialogue, organization, ensuring appropriateness for intended audience, and more.
Substantive editing, also called content editing, looks at the foundation and the meat of your manuscript, evaluating what works and what doesn’t. Like developmental editing, substantive editing looks at the big picture, but in a more focused way. I evaluate your manuscript from a holistic standpoint, looking at the content, organization, and presentation of your complete text. I look at aspects such as continuity, repetition, and awkward or confusing language, and I make sure your text is well-organized, readable, and intelligible.
Copyediting, also sometimes known as line editing, provides a detailed line-by-line review of your manuscript, ensuring that it is clear, concise, coherent, consistent, and correct. At this stage, I finesse your prose to ensure that it observes the conventions of good writing. I make sure your text flows well and uses proper syntax, and I may suggest some minor reorganization, revision, or clarification.
Most projects require two or more rounds of back and forth between author and editor. A common scenario might look something like this:
- Alissa begins with a round of developmental editing.
- The manuscript comes back to you for a round of author revisions.
- Alissa performs a round (or two) of copyediting (with a round of author revision between each editing pass).
- The manuscript comes back to you for final revisions.
- Alissa performs a final cleanup pass.
I will also look at your back cover copy, author bio, acknowledgments page, and any other text in the final book.
Warning: this service is not for the faint of heart! I don’t pull punches, I won’t sugar coat, and I’m prone to overuse of four-letter words. But if your goal is to be the best writer you can be, I will give you the honest, critical, constructive feedback you need to strengthen the weak spots in your manuscript. I will deep dive into your text, looking at things like characterization, point of view and narrative voice, consistency and continuity, setting, conflict and resolution, narrative arc, and more—and then I will provide an extensive, detailed evaluation of what’s working and what isn’t.
Book Launch Blueprint
The Book Launch Blueprint was developed in collaboration with marketing consultant Joy Bennett. Our goal with this document was to map out a strategy that any author can follow, whether you know much about marketing and media or not. The workbook format guides you through the process of market research and content creation, and then shows you how to implement what you’ve put together. An action list that outlines general strategies and specific steps for building your platform, the blueprint guides your work and focuses your efforts to get your book into the hands of readers who need your message.