Beyond a writer's immediate sphere of insular existence, most of writing-related activities are commerce-driven activities. Agents, editors, and publishers have an interest in production and it would seem intuitive they'd want to assure an enduring quality and quantity supply of product like other manufacturers do. Agents as raw ore miners, editors as refiners, publishers as premarket value enhancers.They don't need to assure a supply of manuscripts from writers though, at least quantity-wise. All they need to do to meet quotas is filter through the many millions of manuscripts wanting publication and pick out the hundred thousand or so reasonably high quality ones marketplace demand will bear.
Gatekeeping from one side of the transom, selective filtering from the other side of the transom, the manuscript supply-demand curve dictates large quantity points yield coincidentally high quality outcomes coming in over the transom. The price-value curve is another matter. One price, effectively, an author's ten percent of revenues. The sales value of any given manuscript is both a known and unknown quantity before marketplace release, which happens to be based on objective criteria most selectors rely on from initially intuitive criteria for determining.
I've pursued a developmental editing practice now going on eight years. I've yet to earn a penny. My primary motivation has been for my own writing's sake. I'd like to have a monetary return from the sweat equity investments I've put into other writers development. Some have offered money, but when the metal meets the road I couldn't in good conscience accept, nor do writers really understand the developmental editing process sufficiently to make it coproductive. I didn't at first, but unpleasantnesses and practicality and rationality quickly disabused me of my wishful thinking. My writing talents and skills have profited though, aesthetically profitable anyway.
Developmental editing is an art in its own right. Challenges abound. Creative interference, creative differences, differences in technical abilities, sentiments and creative prejudices and personality clashes and a talent, yes, talent for decorous conduct come into play. I read a comprehensive correspondence between an author and an editor in a developmental editing role. Moody, contentious, one-sided misunderstanding, one-sided tap dancing on eggshells interpersonal power play dynamics. And the interpersonal dynamics shifted and inverted unpredictably. Loggerheads over one word's unconventional spelling. Embarrassment over its/it's. Loggerhead blaming game over factual inaccuracies missed by author and editor alike. To name a few.
I came late up against the single-most crucial complication for developmental editing, imposing my creative vision on a creator's, intentionally or otherwise. But from grasping the full ramifications of the creative imposition dilemma found a way forward. If a project I'm considering doesn't command a distinctive readily interpretable creative direction, it's not ready for developmental editing, period. If it does, it's ready. Getting it ready is solely a writer's responsibility. No one should or can tell a writer how to properly or correctly write a narrative. Advise, yes. Indoctrinate, yes. Tell, no. Originality suffers. Worse--no, worst of all, shared creation dilutes creativity and personal satisfaction. I shudder at the ugly unpleasantnesses I've encountered over demanding credit for trivial by comparison external contributions. It doesn't have to be that way. Paraphrasing E.M. Forster, giving is more emotionally rewarding and satisfying than taking.
Developmental editing doesn't write, rewrite, or revise a narrative or fill in or correct or impose creative vision on a manuscript deficient in whatever ways. Developmental editing enchances a narrative by singling out big picture deficits, small picture deficits, and everything in between missing, superfluous, macro, and micro which a writer's creative oversight has overlooked. A developmental editor is a consultant who Does No Harm, interprets a writer's creative vision as an expert reader expert in reader expectations and cultural coding conventions, and, ideally, brings a writer further along toward the writer's immediate and long term goals. A dynamic writer will eventually outgrow a dynamic developmental editor and go it alone. Ultimately, creative writing's a solitary pursuit.
Last edited by polymath
on 18 Aug 2010, 11:42, edited 1 time in total.
Spread the love of written word.