cozy mystery, Developmental Editor, Michelle Kilpatrik mystery series

Almost Ready (for the next step, that is)

I started my first cozy mystery in April 2021 and am now working on the final edit before taking the next step and sending it to a developmental editor. Writing the book was easy compared to navigating my way through the world of editors. 

When I first started this project, I wrongly assumed when I finished my book edits, I would either query an agent or a publisher who accepted manuscripts without an agent. I. Was. Wrong. Perhaps it is because agents and publishers are overwhelmed with queries and submissions and have smaller staff sizes than previously, but, regardless, they are not looking for a manuscript that needs a lot of attention no matter how great the storyline. They want one that is ready to hit the presses. Hence, the need for a set or several sets of professional eyes to look over a manuscript before submitting it. 

Now, the fun part. Determining what type of editor I need and then finding the best one to work with on my book. There are four types of editors who are used in the following order:

  • Editorial Assessment Editors
  • Developmental Editors
  • Copy Editors
  • Proofreading Editors

An Editorial Assessment is great when you are starting your book. The editor can help with the plot, characters, and general direction of the story. Since my manuscript is finished, I am moving to the step: Developmental Editing. 

A Developmental Editor provides feedback on the structure and style of the story, pacing, plot holes, characterization, inconsistencies, etc. They will offer suggestions about how to fix any problems. That is where I will begin.

My first thought was to submit my first 60 pages to a Developmental Editor to ensure I was on the right track. However, one editor gave me some valuable advice. She explained that the goal of a developmental edit is to take a look at the book as a whole and determine if there are issues with the plot, characterization, etc. Only looking at the first five chapters does not let them know if the book develops problems later on.

And she’s right! Although my original intent was to finish rewriting the rest of my manuscript while an editor looked over the beginning, that is not going to work. So, the new plan: Finish the revision of the entire manuscript while looking for a Developmental Editor. 

Whether shopping for new clothes or buying a new house, it is always helpful to know what you want. Besides wanting a Developmental Editor, what else do I want them to bring to our partnership?

My Developmental Editor Wish List:

  • Previous work within the last three years with my genre – cozy mysteries
  • Clients whose books were published with major publishing houses in the last three years
  • Clients whose books have ratings of 4 stars or more on Amazon
  • Good reviews from clients
  • A fee that fits my budget

Like all wish lists, there may be things I add along the way, but at least, I have a starting point. And now the search begins. I will keep you posted. 

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