What does a book development editor do?

  • Professionally assess your manuscript or book concept for its publishing potential
  • Offer critical feedback and editorial guidance
  • Serve as writing coach as the author completes a manuscript
  • Collaborate in the development of a winning book proposal
  • Position and package the book concept to specific publishers
  • Research what publishers are looking for in the current market
  • Conduct market research on target audience and how to reach your readers
  • Identify competitive titles in the current marketplace of ideas
  • Create a marketing strategy and assist in building an audience platform
  • Provide guidance in the business of publishing

A book development editor functions as:

  • Advocate for an author and his or her intellectual property
  • Doula who assists with the birth of a writing project
  • Editor for that last push before submission
  • Critic who will tell authors what they need to hear in order to improve
  • Matchmaker who knows specific acquisition editors at particular publishers for your project
  • Negotiator who will fight to get the best deal for an author
  • Mediator between author and publisher to fix problems
  • Liaison between the publishing community and the author
  • Champion for an author’s work including subsidiary, foreign and dramatic rights
  • Mentor who will assist in developing an author’s career
  • Marketing strategist who has your brand as an author in mind
  • Career coach for all aspects of your profesional writing profile
  • Educator about changes in the publishing industry
  • Manager of the business side of your writing life

A book development editor is NOT an agent, which means s/he does not work on commission of the sale of your intellectual property. The book development editor charges you for professional services; and the fees may vary according to the type of service you contract for. Your editor is not compensated by agents or publishers for referrals.

A book development editor is NOT a publisher and discourages most authors from self-publishing. While self-publishing and e-books have their place—wedding albums, company histories, scrapbooks, family stories, gift books, church directories, cookbooks—the bulk of self-publishing initiatives are poor investments. These ventures usually take more money from authors in publishing fees than they generate in book sales.

A book development editor IS an editor and someone the author hires—often before the manuscript is completed—to provide editorial support, advice, and guidance. The development editor tells that writer what works, what doesn’t, what needs to happen and how to do it. A writer hires a developmental editor to deliver the truth and to provide options for making the book come to life.

Many book development editors specialize in genres (fiction or non-fiction), even subgenres, and they do not accept all clients for their services. A book development editor usually has particular areas of expertise with a particular network of agents and publishers. A book development editor maintains professional relations with these agents and publishers, and knows what they are looking for in new material.

Many publishers are delighted to know the author has invested in working with a developmental editor. It implies the author will be able to deliver a manuscript according to stylistic and digital submission requirements in a timely fashion, build an audience platform using social media prior to book launch, and has someone to assist with the stresses, complexities and demands of publication, marketing and sales.

If you are serious about publishing your memoir or narrative non-fiction book manuscript, then a book development editor may be what you need. Let Swenson Book Development, LLC help you navigate the headwaters of the publishing industry in these turbulent times.

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