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What is developmental editing and what does it involve? What is line editing? And how does any of this differ from plain old proofreading? How do I write a book proposal? You will find more descriptions below.

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Writing a Book Proposal

How do you get your foot in the door? Sometimes, it can feel daunting, if not next to impossible when you hear countless stories of rejection. But it doesn’t have to be a hopeless process. 

When I submitted my first book proposal, the recently published The Routledge Guidebook to Paine’s Rights of Man, I felt intimidated: although the subject of the book fell within the historical period I studied, I had never written a full-length article on history or political science--much less a dissertation or a book. (My doctoral dissertation was in English literature after all!) But I managed to write a credible book proposal, receiving the following comments from my internal reviewers which were much better than I expected:

“This is a fine, clear, and compelling proposal, which promises to lead to a useful book....although there are some good books that in passing discuss Tom Paine’s Rights of Man, there is nothing quite like this proposed volume. There is a good mix of textual analysis and contextual materials. The writing is clear, and the book seems pitched at a level that should appeal to undergraduate and graduate students.”

“Overall, this is a much needed book and I heartily support the proposal…. Given this, the proposed book is a timely reminder of the importance of recalling the origins of ideas and how they came to be widely understood, as well placing their birth into their historical context. Furthermore, the proposed guidebook to Rights of Man is a well constructed and thoughtful analysis of the text, and does Paine’s work the justice that it needs.”

“This is a very good proposal. It is generally well thought out and prepared, and answers all the key questions that might be posed about such a proposal. It shows a very strong grasp of the material, and reliable intellectual judgment.”

The second book proposal which was sent to Manchester University Press--a book I’m currently completing--would garner even more positive responses:

“In its comprehensive approach to Lewis’s novel, Chiu’s proposed volume

is unmatched…Exhaustive and historically rigorous in its approach to Lewis’s novel, this

study will be a welcome addition to Manchester’s Gothic volumes. With specialist

interests in Thomas Paine, political radicalism, Ann Radcliffe and early Gothic

writing in general, there is, to my knowledge, no critic who is better placed to

write this monograph than Chiu herself.”

“I was convinced by this proposal from the outset. The writer sets out a clear and logical

course for what appears to be an unusually comprehensive critical and historical survey,

and also locates the central text beautifully in its (possibly, under current conditions,

underrated) centrality. This book, if commissioned, will not merely support

undergraduate and taught-postgraduate work on a novel which is more often talked

about than written upon, but will also likely prove a critical tool to reenergize the debate….I am more than happy to endorse this proposal and recommend it to the Press for

publication. The author is correct in noting that no parallel work exists,”

So if you’re searching for a book proposal consultant, you couldn’t find a better guide here! As someone who’s not only written successful proposals but has also read many other proposals for personal interest and for peer reviews, I can provide you with the skills to draft a proposal from start to finish with appropriate models and suggestions. 

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What is Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing might be considered foundational editing as editors help writers approach the "big picture" issues of their texts. This type of editing is intended to provide assistance in drafting an overall structure of the book, whether it's planning and arranging a set of chapters or building a compelling argument with ample, relevant evidence.

In some cases, developmental editing might begin not long after the writer has produced a preliminary draft for an article, book or any substantive writing. As such, the editor might steer a writer to a more fitting genre if the latter is undecided between, say, publishing a self-help book or a memoir with self-help elements or between a travel guide and regional history. Developmental editing can also take place much later in the game when if a writer begins to feel that structure is too limiting or the focus has shifted. 

At other times, developmental editing serves to guide writers toward maintaining a consistent style and tone when they've decided on their target audience: after all, the general thesis and scope for a book aimed at informed lay readers who are not specialists in a given subject is most likely going to differ from one aimed at scholarly peers--or high school students. 

Let me give a personal example. Much of my scholarship deals with the history of Western horror, but the book that I write for colleagues who specialize in that subject is going to differ from one for the well-informed horror aficionado who may not be as knowledgeable in literary or social history. As a result, the topics, examples, and language I use are going to vary too.

It’s worth noting that developmental editing is not limited to books. It can be applied to individual chapters, journal articles, essays, or any other type of nonfictional prose to help writers fine tune their central argument and ensure that the evidence provided remains focused and coherent. 

Having written, edited, and published for scholarly audiences, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as general readers--not to mention having spent the better part of my life combing through scholarly books and journals--I can provide clients with the developmental editing they need, whether it's helping them decide on the type of book or article they want to write, or shaping their arguments and evidence into a coherent whole. ​

In short, I can:

  • Resolve “big picture” issues from individual sections within a chapter to the entire book,

  • Craft an outstanding and viable argument throughout the text with pertinent evidence,

  • Find the right tone for any particular journal or target audience

  • Assist in the handling of peer review commentary

I will provide commentary via Track Changes in Word as well as a separate typed commentary. Please feel free to contact me: we can also arrange to chat by phone or on Zoom.  

What is Line Editing? Proofreading?

Line editing is generally the second phase in editing a manuscript--after a writer has decided upon a viable overall structure, argument(s), and evidence. It is exactly as its name suggests: editing a writer's prose, line by line.  Unlike a developmental editor, a line editor examines prose on a more local level, particularly with a focus on paragraphs and sentences--including, but not limited to the following:

 

  • Eliminate redundant information, repetition of words and phrases, as well as extraneous detail

  • Avoid jarring shifts in tense

  • Correct awkward shifts in verb tense and/or tone

  • Insert necessary transitions between paragraphs or sentences​

However, as your editor, I will also combine line editing with copyediting to fix errors in grammar and syntax.

Proofreading takes place in two stages: when you submit your manuscript to your agent or the editor at your publisher--and after the writer receives proofs from the publisher. This process catches the various misspellings, typos, and punctuation errors that are practically inevitable--even for the most accomplished writers. 

Seeking a Writing Consultant? 

For over twenty years, I've maintained a proven track record of teaching excellence at Oxford University and The New School, both onsite and online. I am listing a few comments I’ve gotten on my course evaluations, more of which can be found on my downloadable CV:

"Wow--she is BRILLIANT. She engages the students and really gets them to think. She is able to pull so many different answers out of one situation and therefore makes the works diversable. She was very honest, and I really appreciate that. because a student isn't going to learn a thing when they are too comfortable."

 

"The instructor was absolutely wonderful. There was always feedback provided about the posts, comments, and questions we had. Also, I would like to note that everything was done timely."

"I have nothing but great things to say about this course. Frances Chiu is a wonderful professor. She is dedicated, erudite, and generous with every single response to a student’s post, which makes it difficult to keep up, but well worth the money."

Here are some comments from the Humanities department chairs:

9 out of 13 students submitted evaluations. Very high quantitative scores, alongside enthusiastic students about Chiu’s dedication, encouragement, concern for student learning and her mastery of both the literature and its historical and political contexts. Prof. Chiu commented copiously–even after her father died.” (2019)

“Overall students have great respect for Professor Chiu–both in her capacity to teach in dynamic cross-disciplinary ways and her communication of her extensive knowledge. They also repeatedly praise her for her responsiveness and presence in the online format–something that is not always easy to provide….Professor Chiu maintains a publication record and research agenda equivalent to that of a tenured/tenure-track faculty member. She also maintains a clear professional presence in her field.”  (2022)

Not least, my experience includes ten years of evaluating Graduate Record Examination essays for Educational Testing Services as well as California state writing tests for high school juniors. 

 

I do not subscribe to the elitist notion that good writers are born, not made. Practice eventually becomes perfect as training and attention can make all the difference! I will coach you--or your child--to become a savvier and  more effective writer. 

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