Work on your children’s book with a developmental editor.


The author of 255 books for children, teens, and adults, I have been working as a developmental editor since 1999. According to Wikipedia, a developmental editor works with writers in two ways.

  1. Some developmental editors coach writers before the manuscript is submitted.
  2. Some developmental editors coach writers as they revise after the manuscript is submitted.

Over the years I have worked both ways as a developmental editor. I find it very satisfying to help writers develop their stories. You know your story best. My job is to help you see what you already have – in your imagination and on the page.

How can I help you develop your children’s book?

  1. If you need help to write your first draft, sign up for a workshop critique.
  2. If you need help to revise your completed children’s book manuscript, sign up for a revision critique.

Revision Critiques

Picture Book WIP Critique
Send in a revision of your completed picture book for a Picture Book WIP Critique.

Picture Book WIP Critique (under 1,000 words)
$199 USD

A Thousand Words or More?
For longer books, whether it is a long nonfiction Picture Book WIP Critique or a middle grade novel revised for a Children’s Novel WIP Critique, the fee is $200 for the first 1,000 words and 1 cents a word after that.

After you calculate the cost for your word count, you can pay with your phone (or computer) and then send in your manuscript.

The Six Traits of Writing

Use the 6 traits of writing to write and revise your manuscript step by step.

The six traits of writing were identified in the 1980s as a way to help young writers. They are:

  1. Ideas
  2. Organization
  3. Voice
  4. Word Choice
  5. Sentence Fluency
  6. Conventions (grammar, spelling, and punctuation)

I have divided the traits into two groups: the BIG Picture traits and the small details traits.

  1. Ideas, organization, and voice are the BIG Picture traits.
  2. Word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions are the small details traits.

From Six to Three (Or How Editors Edit)

The six traits of writing cover three different types of editing.

Developmental editing looks at the BIG Picture. It looks at the structure of the story and examines:

  • The Ideas: Can readers follow the logic of the story? Is it believable?
  • The Organization: How does the story flow from page to page, from scene to scene? Does the tension build as the pages turn?
  • The Voice: Which voice does the story use (first, second, or third person)? Does the story (or chapter) have a single narrator?

Line editing looks the small details. It examines the manuscript line by line, focusing on:

  • Word Choice
  • Sentence Fluency

Copy editing focuses on the final trait:

  • Conventions (grammar, spelling, and punctuation)

For the workshop critiques and the revision critiques, I always begin at the top of the six traits list.

  • If you are taking a workshop to write your first draft, you will work through the BIG Picture traits week by week.
  • If you sign up for a revision critique, I will check the BIG Picture traits for you.

Please be advised that I do not move to the small details traits until the BIG Picture traits are ready. Correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation won’t fix a book with flawed logic. Choosing new words for a single sentence doesn’t repair a disorganized story arc. The structure of the story must come first, because if the BIG Picture isn’t ready, your story isn’t publishable yet.

Step 1: A Developmental Edit

For a developmental edit, I ask questions about sections that are confusing. I make structural suggestions for you to consider, offering ideas to help you fill in any gaps and ideas to help you decide which direction to take in your next draft, including rearranging the order of the scenes or sections in your book. And because there are often two to three or more ways for you to develop an idea, I use colored ink and highlighting to share these ideas, these suggestions, on the manuscript itself. (The Track Changes in Word fill up the page too quickly and then scroll OFF the page, making them hard to read.)

A developmental edit is a story structure edit. I offer developmental critiques for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry manuscripts written by adults for young readers.

Step 2: A Line Edit

When the manuscript communicates your ideas clearly to your readers (who will not be able to email you and ask questions as they read), then the BIG Picture is ready and I can look at the small details in a line edit. For a line edit critique, I go line by line and make suggestions for new word choices. I also offer ideas about changing the order of the words in a sentence and the order of the sentences in a paragraph. Once again I will use colored ink and highlighting to make specific suggestions.

If you have written a rhyming picture book, please send in a scan of the meter (using these scanning instructions), so I can look at the book syllable by syllable.

Q. Do you offer a copy editing critique?
A. No. Microsoft Word takes care of most of the copy editing needed at these early stages and each publishing house uses a different style guide, so I do not offer a copy editing critique.

If you plan to self-publish, I strongly recommend hiring a copy editor. All publishers use copy editors, so if you are acting as your own publisher, you should too.

Critique FAQs

Q. How long will it take for you to critique my book?
A. Picture book critiques take two business days and novels require a week or more. After you sign up for a critique, email me your children’s book manuscript right away so I can add you to my schedule. I work on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please allow a month or more before you plan to send your book out into the world (to an agent or a contest). Why? See the next question . . .

Q. How many critiques will my book need?
A. No one knows. Every story is different. Some story problems are easier to solve then others. It may take a few rounds to find a story structure solution you like. On the other hand, if your story is structurally sound I will begin with a line edit critique.

Remember, my job is to help you see what you already have – in your imagination and on the page. After considering my questions and suggestions, some writers come up entirely NEW ways to solve their story structure problems. Others find that setting up the story differently by rearranging it or filling in the gaps solves their story structure problems. I ask questions and make suggestions, but the final decision is up to you.

Q. Will you refund my money if the book doesn’t sell?
A. No. A critique is a consultation, NOT a guarantee of publication. I offer suggestions to help you revise based on my years of experience in publishing, but it’s your book, so you have the final say. How you revise your book is up to you.

Q. Will you recommend a publisher for my book?
A. No. There are three steps to becoming a published author (and a critique is for the middle one).

  1. Write the book.
  2. Revise the book.
  3. Sell the book.

You write the book (step 1) and as a developmental editor, I can help you revise it (step 2). The person who sells books to a publisher (step 3) is a literary agent. (Keeping track of what editors want to buy and negotiating contracts is a full-time job!)

My writers come from all levels of the continuum, from beginner to advanced. Some sold the books they wrote when they were working with me while others continued to master their craft and sold their first book later. Are you ready to work with a writing mentor? Are you looking for a critique to help you take your book to the next level? Sign up for a revision critique so we can start working together!

Still have questions? Email me.

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.