The Professionals Begin: Developmental Editor Takes Charge

My project manager did the first read of the manuscript. This was late summer of 2018. Hanna was enthusiastic in her praise. I wasn’t sure whether to believe her, or think she was just placating me to get me hooked into the business. Either way, I continued on, and one of the first steps was to have a developmental editor read the manuscript.

There were at least three passes the book would have to pass in order to get published. The first was a high level read to determine if the story flowed correctly, if it chronologically made sense. If it had gaps in the story line. Angela was my developmental editor. I didn’t know her from Adam, but she was part of the Beaver’s Pond Press team, and I was on board.

Several weeks passed. Crickets. I was sweating.

It was one thing to have beta readers go over the manuscript. My beta readers were mostly my friends. They were kind. I did some re-writes based on the input, the biggest change was the ending that my beta readers said was too much of a downer. But a paid developmental editor was given money to tear the manuscript to shreds… or that’s what I assumed. What would she say?

Finally, after about three weeks, I got an email from Angela. She wanted to meet in person. Soon. OMG!

We met at a coffee shop down the street from where I had just moved, downsizing from a four bedroom, two story colonial where I had lived for 32 years. Munkabean coffee shop is an independently owned and operated coffee and sandwich shop about three blocks from my condo, that I refer to as the Landing Pad. I was nervous about the meeting because I have heard of writers who have had to restart and regroup after this first stage of editing. Their storyline was flawed, their writing didn’t hang together. I had my fingers crossed that this was not going to be me.

Angela was a young mother working freelance as a contract worker for BPP (Beaver’s Pond Press). She was straightforward and had a warm, friendly approach. Her feedback was… sparse. Her praise was ebullient. She said aside from a few areas, the book flowed well and kept her interest to the end.

She suggested I rethink the beginning. She thought it lead one to think the memoir was about growing up in Montana, not working 20 years at Cargill. We talked for some time about the first chapter and it dawned on me where the book could really start for the reader to understand the circumstances under which I began my career without being unloyal to my upbringing.

I rewrote the first chapter with her criticism in mind. I took the reader into a traumatic episode that interrupted my Cargill training. I felt the addition and modifications were critical to a successful and much improved entrée into the world of 1976.

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