Professional Services: Developmental Writing
Some authors decide (often at the urging of an agent or publisher) that although their ideas are terrific, they need a professional writer. If pressure from your non-writing career, a looming publisher’s deadline, or a lack of time to hone your skills threatens to keep you from becoming a published author, you should consider hiring a developmental writer.
Although the line between developmental writing and literary collaboration can be thin, the challenges for each are quite differentand both differ greatly from editing. As developmental editor, my job is to help you rethink and recast your work in a way that presents your ideas in the best possible light. As developmental writer, my job is to do that heavy lifting for you: to begin where you leave off, to revise or rewrite an existing draft or complete an unfinished manuscript.
Because developmental writing re-expresses or replaces much of your original work, it is sometimes confused with ghostwriting but the two are not strictly the same. A ghostwriter may begin some projects from scratch, generating all content as well as expressing it, then putting some else’s name on the book. As a developmental writer, I too may spend hours researching a subject and contribute a lot of new content, but my basic task is to expand and improve upon your original work, not substitute my ideas for yours.
How Developmental Writing Works
I begin a developmental writing assignment by evaluating your manuscript, measuring it against competing and complementary literature, considering your goals as an author (or the requirements of your publishing contract) and the expectations of the intended audience. I then prepare an editorial plan that becomes our blueprint for a rewritten or re-conceived book. A product of both our contributions, the resulting book is usually better than either of us could’ve written alone, though your name may be the only one to appear on the spine.
Because developmental writing assignments vary tremendously in scope, I quote each project individuallyalthough I perform every job for a fixed fee once we’ve agreed on what needs to be done.
For more information about developmental writing assignments, please go to the FAQ and Contact pages of this web site.
What Are “Managed Texts”?
You may have wondered how some multi-authored textbooks, branded series, or multimedia works (books, audio tapes, DVDseven software) sold as a collection come into the world. Creating these complex products exceeds the ability of any one author and requires the contributions of many technical specialists. How on earth do they do it?
The quick answer is teamwork; but like any team, a managed text (as such collegial projects are sometimes called) needs a coach and a captain. The coach is usually a publisher or book packager who assembles the talent and calls the plays. The captain is usually a highly qualified writer or editor who coordinates the input from a variety of experts and integrates them into a coherentnot to mention enlightening and entertainingwhole that reflects a single author’s voice appropriate to the subject and audience.
If your project depends upon the participation of diverse (and often very busy and sometimes temperamental) contributors in a variety of fields, you’ll need an experienced, tactful, and tenacious developmental writer to keep budgets, schedules, and quality under control.
For more information about how I manage managed texts, please go to the For Agents & Publishers and Contact pages of this web site.