Choosing the best editing option for you and your novel can be tricky. I’ve developed this guide to help you choose the editing option that’s best for you.
Your writing almost always feels like something is missing or wrong.
Chances are, you have a problem or issue that repeats in most scenes in your novel. Rather than getting a full edit, which will contain a lot of repetition of the same issues, I recommend the novel assessment.
You love the idea/premise of your novel, but you don’t love the plot.
If you’re a plotter or can tolerate plotting, I recommend the concept/outline assessment because it’s cheaper and faster.
If you hate plotting, don’t have or don’t want to create an outline, or if you also have another problem you want addressed, I recommend the full novel critique.
If you’re struggling with plot, I don’t recommend the developmental edit because the individual chapter/scene feedback won’t help you if you’re facing major structural changes.
You love some scenes/chapters and hate others.
If you hate some scenes/chapters because you don’t like the content (i.e. it’s a plotting level issue), the outline assessment is a good choice.
If you aren’t happy with half or more of the novel’s scenes, there’s likely a recurring problem and I recommend the novel assessment.
If you like the majority of scenes, but feel that some scenes just aren’t working well or if you have other concerns in addition to disliking scenes/chapters, the full developmental edit is a great way to get feedback on every scene in the novel.
Note that I recommend the larger, more in-depth developmental edit to writers who are closer to publication. This is because the level of in-depth feedback in the full developmental edit is more useful for writers who are not facing major rewrites. If there’s potential you’ll be rewriting the novel, the chapter/scene feedback in the developmental edit may be useless to you.
You hate the way your writing sounds.
If you just aren’t happy with your writing style or voice, I recommend a voice/style assessment.
There’s something specific about your novel that you aren’t happy with.
If you’re unhappy with something specific (for example, dialogue, characterization, POV), I recommend an hour or two of coaching so that we can key into what’s going wrong and how you can improve your writing.
You have some specific questions about your novel.
I’m happy to answer specific questions through email-based coaching. You can send me a list of questions with any relevant material (such as excerpts).
You queried agents but didn’t get any requests or you’re about to query and want to put your best foot forward.
Since querying usually involves the query letter as well as pages from the novel, I recommend booking a novel assessment to strengthen the opening chapters as well as a query edit to make sure you’re pitching your novel in the strongest way possible.
You almost snagged an agent or publisher, but they ultimately passed.
If the agent or publisher requested a partial and then passed, I recommend the novel assessment. Most likely there are some issues that repeat throughout the novel or there is a problem with marketability.
If the agent or publisher requested a full after a partial and then passed, I recommend the developmental edit (if you think you need feedback on each chapter/scene) or a critique. Most likely you’ve got a “saggy middle” (not enough content in the middle of the novel). Another potential approach to this issue is the outline assessment, which would allow us to tackle the plot in a faster and cheaper way.
If the agent or publisher provided feedback on why they rejected you, we can use that information to determine whether the critique, developmental edit, or outline review would be the better choice.
You can’t really afford an editor, but you really want to work with one.
If your budget is limited, but you really want to work with a professional editor, I recommend the novel assessment, which will get you the most bang for your buck.
Also, please note that I have tried to make a wide variety of writing and editing advice available for free. Working with a professional editor is not the only path to publication so please don’t feel obligated to hire me or any other editor. It’s totally possible to make the journey to publication without professional assistance.
You want to know everything that could be improved with your novel.
If you want to move into revisions with a complete sense of what needs to be improved, there are a couple options.
If you have experience as a writer, have used beta readers, have gone through a few rounds of revisions, and want professional help to give the novel that final polish and edge, the full developmental edit is a great choice.
Note that if this is your first novel, there’s a good chance you’re facing a much larger amount of revisions than you anticipate. You may be facing a full rewrite, which means the chapter-by-chapter feedback in the developmental edit will be more beneficial as a tool for learning (since you may be scrapping most scenes altogether).
If you want to dig into what could be improved in each scene with the understanding that much of the feedback may be more beneficial as a learning experience, the developmental edit is a great option.
If your budget is limited and/or if you anticipate that major rewrites may be on the table, the novel critique is likely the better option.
If you have a situation that isn’t addressed in this list, if you need a custom service, or if you feel stuck with what to choose, please send me an email. Thanks!