What is the role of a developmental editor?

Learn the nuances of developmental editing and how to collaborate effectively with an author. Kim Miller is a senior editor at Tyndale House Publishers, located near Chicago, USA.

Watch this six-minute video. Enjoy a summary below.

Developmental editing is not copyediting—correcting grammar, cleaning up mistakes, or cleaning up a manuscript. It is a partnership between an editor and author who work to strengthen a book’s structure and content. The author is a key partner and his or her voice is strengthened and maintained.

Editors come with attitude of humility, recognizing the author is producing the book. We are there to assist and help. With humility, we come with confidence that we bring a set of skills, life experience and objectivity.

Developmental editing is a collaborative process— the editor and author always work together. The editor is always there to assist but ensures the author has the final word.

The reader is the important unseen person in developmental editing. The first time we read the manuscript, the editor is sitting in the reader’s place.

Steps in developmental editing:

  1. Read the manuscript for the first time. We editors come with questions: Who is the intended audience? What is the overarching message? As the reader, what do we see as its strengths and weaknesses that the author may not see?
  2. Create an editorial plan, a form that lists the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s very important to list the strengths in particular, and to bring ideas on how to improve the manuscript. This form will serve as a blueprint to use with the author through the developmental editing process.
    Get the author’s input and then make some adjustments. Remember, your focus on the big picture, going back to the audience and message.
  3. How complete is the manuscript? Does it address the readers’ “felt need”? Is there something worthwhile for the reader?
  4. Does it carry through to the end and offer a resolution to the story or a pay off on the topic?
  5. Is there spiritual value and is it biblically sound?
  6. How is the structure? Does it flow logically and in a good order from beginning to end? Does the chapter order makes sense? Do headings break up chapters? Could some content be put into maps or glossaries?
  7. Is the writing clear, compelling and logical? Give feedback to the author.
  8. Give specific direction in all these areas. Don’t just say, “Sometimes your writing is general or awkward.” Give examples of places where work can be done. Ask the author to do the work, but always give examples, feedback and ideas. Talk through things with the author because he/she may likely feel unsure of how to proceed.
  9. Once the editing is complete, get the author’s approval on a final manuscript. It’s their book and you want them to be satisfied.
  10. Turn over your work to the copy editor for spelling, factual and grammar errors. You’re still involved as the process continues, perhaps serving as conduit between copy editor and author. Your role is to stick with the author until the project is complete.
  11. Finally, celebrate with the author when the project is complete. Congratulate him or her and rejoice as you begin to hear feedback from readers.

This video was shot by Team David at MAI’s LittWorld 2015 conference in Singapore.

Sometimes God Surprises Us

By John D. Maust, MAI PresidentJohn 2015 headshot

Sometimes God surprises us by doing something we did not imagine.  Has such a thing happened recently in MAI’s work? A friend wanted to know.

One country came immediately to mind. Several years ago, we began doing some behind-the-scenes writer training in a closed nation of Southeast Asia.  Some gifted and committed writers began to emerge, and we thought it would be helpful for several to attend LittWorld in 2015 in nearby Singapore.  We hoped to provide scholarships for two or three.  But, generous donors seemed to emerge out of nowhere, and we were able to provide full conference scholarships for eight.

During LittWorld these eight emerging writers bonded in their friendship and shared passion for the ministry of the written word.  One said afterwards, “We now see that writing is a way to serve the Lord.  Before it had been a task we were assigned to do. Now it is a vision we are excited about. We are now so inspired to serve the Lord through writing!

“We’d never really seen the potential that writing has for reaching so many people in places where we ourselves cannot physically go due to time and other restrictions. The written word is powerful. And what a humbling privilege that we might become the authors of these written words.”

Following LittWorld, the writers organized a “writing for children” workshop, led by two MAI facilitators they met at the conference.  They also received graphic design training from a speaker they met at LittWorld 2015.  Today they are forming a fledgling publishing ministry called “Firefly.”  MAI will accompany them on their publishing journey, and we are eager to see what other surprises the Lord has in store for the writers group and Christian publishing in their country.

Unique challenges of creating kids’ books

A lot of people think creating kids’ books is easy. After all, they’re short, right? Not according to Stephanie Rische, senior editor and team manager for children’s books and nonfiction at Tyndale House Publishers. Kids’ books come with unique challenges. Watch this 3-minute video to learn more.

Consider the audience. For adult books, the same person buying the book is reading it. For kids’ books, a two-year-old isn’t going to walk into a store and buy the book. You must keep in mind three audiences:

The buyer. The person who will buy the book for the child. Is the title and cover appealing? Does the message appeal?

The reader. The person reading the book with the child. Books for kids have a “re-read” value. Unlike adult books, they can be read again and again with a child. Does the book appeal to the reader for re-reading?

The child. Not only do you want to communicate a message of faith, but one that’s engaging, fun and enjoyableStephanie Rische photo to read.

Register online now for Stephanie Rische’s upcoming MAI webinar, “Even Dr. Seuss Needed an Editor: The art of editing books for children,” on Tuesday, August 16, 8-9 a.m. CST.

This video was taken by TeamDavid at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

Living the Dream to Educate Indonesian Children

A young writer is on the fast track to fulfilling her dream of educating underprivileged children in Indonesia.

A few months after our LittWorld 2015 conference, Tiur Faith Saj Purba, 25, launchedtiur-book-cover-cropped her autobiographical book 0.1 Hectares School, published by Christian publisher Metanoia. She and co-author Ariska Amir tell describe Tiur’s childhood, attending a neighborhood school with crumbling walls and her vision and work to educate village children.

Tiur attributes LittWorld 2015 with equipping her in publishing, plus enabling her to lead her non-profit.

A workshop on leadership was particularly helpful “because I learned to lead by love and the Word of God,” she said. “I can use the teaching in writing and publishing to bless a lot of people.

Only one year earlier in March 2015, Tiur launched Rumah Belajar Bekasi (House for Learning). The nonprofit tutoring center serves low-income children in Bekasi, a poor suburb of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. She recruited 10 other volunteers to give up their Sundays to teach some 30 children in a room only 7 by 4 meters. Donors contributed books, pencils and notebooks.

lw-2015-hermela-and-tiurSince that first center, Tiur has opened two additional centers for children, gathering volunteers and supplies through her blog and website.

“My vision now is to build a free school for poor children,” Tiur told us. “I hope they can feel His love through my ministry.”

Her book’s publicity has propelled Tiur’s vision further as she travels in Indonesia and Malaysia to speak on TV talk shows and give newspaper interviews.

All of the book’s proceeds will be poured into creating an official school. Tiur is already working on the government paperwork.

Check out Tiur’s latest updates on Facebook.

Photo above: Tiur (left) with new friend, Ethiopian author Hermela Solomon, at LittWorld 2015.

Indonesia is home to some 1,000 publishers, of which about 40 are Christian. The world’s most populous Muslim nation of 240 million people is nearly 10 percent Christian.

Living the dream to educate underprivileged Indonesian children

A young author is on the fast track to fulfilling her dream of educating underprivileged children in Indonesia.

A few months after our LittWorld 2015 conference, Tiur Faith Saj Purba, 25, launched hertiur book cover cropped autobiographical book 0.1 Hectares School, published by Christian publisher Metanoia. She and co-author Ariska Amir tell describe Tiur’s childhood, attending a neighborhood school with crumbling walls and her vision and work to educate village children.

Tiur attributes LittWorld 2015 with equipping her in publishing, plus enabling her to lead her non-profit.

A workshop on leadership was particularly helpful “because I learned to lead by love and the Word of God,” she said. “I can use the teaching in writing and publishing to bless a lot of people.

Only one year earlier in March 2015, Tiur launched Rumah Belajar Bekasi (House for Learning). The nonprofit tutoring center serves LW 2015 - Hermela and Tiurlow-income children in Bekasi, a poor suburb of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. She recruited 10 other volunteers to give up their Sundays to teach some 30 children in a room only 7 by 4 meters. Donors contributed books, pencils and notebooks.

Since that first center, Tiur has opened two additional centers for children, gathering volunteers and supplies through her blog and website.

“My vision now is to build a free school for poor children,” Tiur told us. “I hope they can feel His love through my ministry.”

Her book’s publicity has propelled Tiur’s vision further as she travels in Indonesia and Malaysia to speak on TV talk shows and give newspaper interviews. All of the book’s proceeds will be poured into creating an official school. Tiur is already working on the government paperwork.

Check out Tiur’s latest ministry updates on Facebook.

Photo above: Tiur (left) with new friend, Ethiopian author Hermela Solomon, at LittWorld 2015.

Indonesia is home to some 1,000 publishers, of which about 40 are Christian. The world’s most populous Muslim nation of 240 million people is nearly 10 percent Christian.