By now, you guys know the drill. You’ve already heard that you need an editor (or several editors) so you don’t end up releasing a book riddled with plot holes, awkward sentence structure, and typos. Even if you’re a good writer, you’re too close to the manuscript to view it through an objective lens. A kind, firm expert can inject reality into the process, which works wonders for the quality and credibility of your manuscript. Like I said, you already know this.
But as I’ve been writing up my latest developmental reviews—both of them first passes on new manuscripts for authors I’ve worked with in the past—I’m struck by how dramatically both writers have improved their craft. These first drafts are so much better than the first drafts I saw from them at earlier stages in their careers. Some of this can just be chalked up to experience: The more you read, write, and revise, the better you’ll get at writing. However, these two authors in particular have already proven to me that they take advice really well, and they revise successfully. They analyzed the critique I gave them for their previous books and applied those principles to their new first drafts. What a difference it makes!
Moral of the story? As you select your developmental editor, make sure you’re working with someone who enjoys teaching and can carefully explain the reasons behind the changes they’re suggesting. Take their recommendations seriously, and look for ways in which you can apply those principles to your next piece of writing. That kind of attitude takes you a long way.