Today I list 10 times when an author of non-fiction might need a book development editor. If you plan to write a book and your goal is publication, then you might find the professional services of a book development editor valuable.

1. Before you begin writing the manuscript, take your concept to a book development editor. Don’t write the book before you’ve done your business homework on the publishing potential of your book concept. Many publishers now like to work with the author in crafting the manuscript for their audience. So before you put your writer’s cap on, make sure you put your common sense scalp on first. A timeline and budget, chapter outlines, marketing strategy, competitive title analysis, a convincing query letter, and most important: identify the audience. A book development editor will help you prepare a proposal to secure a publishing contract.

2. Before you begin sending out query letters or book proposals to agents or editors, take your materials to a book development editor for a “second chance” critique. Many writers come to me after they have gotten several, or many, rejection letters. These letters often don’t tell the writer what exactly they might have done differently. A book development editor can catch simple mistakes that raise red flags for the intended recipient and bring the perspective and knowledge of the publishing industry to the writer’s project.

3. Before you think about self-publishing, invest in some strategic advice on the business of publishing. For the love of books, it breaks my heart when an author seeks services after he or she has self-published and needs help with marketing, distribution, sales, promotion and publicity. It can be too late.

Many authors assume the new path toward publication is self-publishing. Not yet. Especially in non-fiction. So for first time authors or those with a niche audience, caveat emptor. Unless you are an author of Young Adult fiction (with trolls and your name is Amanda Hocking), there is little evidence to suggest this route is easier or more lucrative. (And even Amanda Hocking decided to go with a traditional publisher so she’d have more time to write.)

Self-publishing for non-fiction remains in the realm of the vanity presses who make their profits from authors, not from selling books. Even the major publishing houses have new self-publishing imprints and Amazon lures more wannabe writers. If your proposal or query has met with rejection from a traditional publisher, this is not a strong case for self-publishing. It’s a case for getting a book development editor.

4. A book development editor can help you with the business of being an author. Today writers must wear many different hats in their professional role as author. Many writers just want to write. Authors took classes in education, not business, accounting, computer science, marketing, math or management.

5. Before you start building your audience platform with social media, consult a book development editor for strategy. The need to demonstrate the size of your potential book buying audience grows increasingly important to publishers when considering a book proposal. A book development editor can offer you appropriate strategy for you as an author to create an online brand presence. Yes, you need to blog. No, you don’t have tweet every 20 seconds.

6. Before you send you manuscript to your publisher, a book development editor can assist you in the final preparation of your digital submission. The author is responsible for line editing, indexing, citations, copyright permissions, style requirements, and following contractual submission guidelines. A book development editor may save you time and trouble with these kinds of professional editorial services.

7. Under a contract deadline or want to stay on a timeline and need structure and guidance? A book development editor may serve as your writing coach and advocate in moving forward towards publication.

8. Need a dissertation coach and editor? Call a book development editor. Writing a dissertation can be challenging and your committee members may have little to offer in support of your writing efforts. Style requirements, formatting, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices can be headaches as you rush towards graduation deadlines. Work with a coach who has a Ph.D., who could also serve as an outsider reader on your committee. Before you try to turn your dissertation into a book, seek the services of a book development editor. Rarely does a dissertation become a book, but when it does structural editing and rewriting is generally required. Instead of trying to rewrite it yourself and then facing rejection, start with a consultation with a book development editor. The services of a book development editor go beyond those offered by Graduate Division Offices for manuscript typists.

9. Before you take your backlist of books and attempt to make them available in e-formats or reissue them, authors may seek a book development editor for self-publishing strategy. Many authors have books for which the copyright has reverted back to them from the publisher. If the author thinks there is sufficient market demand to bring the title back into print, there are many new options available. Investigating those options is time consuming and confusing. Consulting with a book development editor is advisable and advantageous to an author. A book development editor works for you and is your advocate in finding the greatest return on your intellectual property.

10.  After you turn in your book manuscript to the publisher and wait for it to appear on bookstore shelves, the time for marketing and planning the book launch is nigh. The six to nine months lag between manuscript completion and publication is a very busy time for an author. Booking author events, garnishing endorsements and blurbs from early readers, lining  up reviews and interviews, expanding your audience platform with social media — these are only a few of the many things an author needs to do before the book launch.

The first 60 days of a book’s release are the most important. They determine the future sales and shelf life of your title. And what determines the sales during those initial 60 days? The author with a well written book and a well executed marketing campaign.

Swenson Book Development LLC assists authors at every step of the book publishing path. Let us help your book take flight.

4 thoughts on “When do you need a book development editor?

  1. Great blog, but consider ending it after #7. 8, 9, and 10 are all different/separate ideas that could be developed as stand-alone blogs.

    • Thanks, Ruth, for great editorial suggestions. After the New Year begins I plan to dive into more depth on these points in an author’s career where a book development editor may be helpful.

  2. This is thought-provoking, thank you! As I continue to think about a book-length project, which prob wd be nonfiction–ish, I have a couple of friends writing novels. How much of this holds true for fiction, and do you work with fiction writers as well?

    • Mary Terese, only some of this holds true for fiction. Even memoir is a bit different than non-fiction. For memoir and fiction you really need to have a complete manuscript before you send out your first query letter to an agent or publisher. A book development editor can coach writers of fiction and memoir to guide them toward generating a publishable story. Book development editors typically specialize in one or more genres but any book development editor can help a fiction writer identify their audience, appropriate agents and imprints, establish an audience using social media, and offer professional assessments of fiction projects. In fiction, authors must go through agents as publishing companies simply refuse unsolicited proposals and manuscripts. In non-fiction and memoir, you may or may not need an agent if you work with a book development editor. I hope this helps clarify the question about the similarities and differences between fiction and non-fiction. Swenson Book Development LLC specializes in non-fiction and memoir.

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