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What Is a Development Editor and How to Become One

What Is a Development Editor?

A development editor works with an author to define and improve the structure and content of a manuscript. Development editors may start early on, from the point when the manuscript is accepted for publication, noting a lack of focus and helping the author refine a more definite direction for the book. They may also discover inconsistent tone, an unclear audience, or a stilted writing style, and provide suggestions to resolve these issues. Some development editors review the book chapter by chapter, until the book is ready for publication. Most developmental editors have a degree in English or a related subject. Many have experience in publishing as copy editors or proofreaders, or have been writers themselves before moving to become developmental editors.

How to Become a Development Editor

The primary qualifications for becoming a development editor are a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and some experience helping make manuscripts more marketable. In this context, manuscript usually refers to books, but development editors can also work with other types of products. This job also requires some time flexibility because editors often work together with writers and provide line-level feedback and support. Since authors do not always write and edit on a predictable schedule, this job may require far more flexibility in your schedule than many other positions. Fulfilling the responsibilities and duties of a development editor requires writing skills, interpersonal skills, incredible attention to detail, and familiarity with what helps books sell better.