At the beginning of the publishing process it’s decided whether an author’s manuscript needs a development edit. This kind of edit is geared towards making sure the manuscript is of the best quality it can be, ready to be released to book-buyers. In commercial terms, for obvious reasons if a manuscript is in the best shape it can be, it has a much better chance of selling successfully.
Depending on various factors, the scale of the development edit varies accordingly. Often, fiction titles have more in-depth edits than other books, because of the complexity of the plots, characterisation, structure, continuity – all things you want to be absolutely perfect before you move to the next stage. For non-fiction, a development edit is often focused on structure and narrative, and may involve emphasis on fact-checking and rhetoric, especially if it’s an opinion piece. Sometimes a development edit is hardly needed and instead an in-house editor may clear up some small issues directly with an author before the manuscript flies straight through to the next stage.
Once any necessary editorial work is done, the manuscript comes back and is formally submitted into a process that’s internally called pre-press. Now what’s known as a ‘critical path’ is created for your book: this is simply a schedule of the necessary deadlines for the several stages your manuscript will now go through on its journey to publication. It also ties in this editorial and production cycle with key dates for the delivery of marketing materials, which are needed to give you book the best chance of being sold to bookshops at the right time with maximum impact (more on this later). Significant delays to this critical path can have results like moving publication dates or can negatively affect the way we can sell your book – so they’re important! And we’ll always do all we can to keep things on track. With the final manuscript ready and a critical path in place, your work is ready to start its journey to becoming a book.