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I am an editor at the University of California Press and author of the first full-length handbook ever published on the subject of developmental editing.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The DE Catch-22

When acquisitions editors propose a new edition of a book, they may account for soft sales of a previous edition by saying it was published in the “wrong” trim size, in paperback when it should have been hardcover (or vice versa), or with too few illustrations. They bolster their argument by analyzing comparable titles with better sales performance, often citing works by other publishers. In such matters of format, data is not hard to come by. But because publishers do not advertise which of their books have been developmentally edited, any similar analysis of comparable titles is restricted to the publisher’s own previous experiments. The result is a Catch-22: publishers steer clear of developmental editing because they have no supportive data showing it works, thus perpetuating the paucity of data.

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