Non-Fiction Developmental Editing

Who is this course suitable for?

This course aims to give an introduction to the process of developmentally editing non-fiction. It is suitable for experienced editors who wish to expand their skillset into this particular field. A general base of editing skills is presumed; those without this knowledge should make use of the CIEP’s proofreading and copyediting programmes before beginning this course. Participants must be present at the time of the webcast because direct participation is required.

Course description

Developmental editing involves evaluating how well everything hangs together across the whole of a text to help the author deliver their message as clearly and effectively as possible.

This course assumes competence and experience in copyediting, and concentrates on the process of developing non-fiction texts before an author starts writing, when they submit their final draft or after a manuscript has been accepted by a publisher.

The ideas discussed can be used in editing any and every kind of non-fiction material.

The course aims to help editors to:

  • understand what is meant by ‘developmental editing’ of non-fiction and what the process involves
  • appreciate the needs of different stakeholders and how those may affect a project, and ways to manage working relationships effectively
  • understand the different types of tasks that developmental editors can be asked to do if they are working for a publisher or directly for an author
  • adapt their approach flexibly to the demands of each job
  • plan and carry out developmental editing to an appropriate standard.

The course provides exercises for you to put into practice the lessons learned through the study notes. There are model answers, commentaries on all the exercises, and a section on useful resources to help you in this field.

What you should know after the course

By the end of this course you will understand:

  • how to assess and establish a brief
  • how to approach the production of a content outline or book proposal
  • how to apply the five core principles of developmental editing, and practical approaches when developing non-fiction texts
  • how to produce an editorial report
  • how to begin to design your own non-fiction developmental editing service(s).


This course is best accessed on a PC/Mac or laptop with a webcam, and not on a tablet.

Availability, prices and upgrade points

We are currently running this course as a series of four live webinar sessions (one session per week).

Each session lasts a maximum of 2 hours, including small-group discussion in breakout rooms. There are homework exercises to complete after sessions 1, 2 and 3.

Maximum of 16 participants per course.

How to book your place

The next iteration of Non-Fiction Developmental Editing will take place on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 20 February, 9.30–11.30am (GMT)
  • Tuesday 27 February, 9.30–11.30am (GMT)
  • Tuesday 5 March, 9.30–11.30am (GMT)
  • Tuesday 12 March, 9.30–11.30am (GMT)

Booking has now closed for this run of the course.

Find out more about 2024 sessions

  Virtual learning course
Price (members)  
Price (non-members)  
CIEP upgrade points 3
  Book now

Other price discounts are available. See the fees page.

4 × weekly 2-hour sessions, plus time to complete homework after sessions 1, 2 and 3.

Prices are exclusive of tax, which will be added automatically at your local rate at checkout.

Virtual learning course programme

Length of course: 8 hours + homework time CIEP upgrade points: 3

Session 1: what non-fiction developmental editing involves; establishing the brief; content outlines/book proposals

Session 2: identifying the central argument; the five core principles of developmental editing

Session 3: practical approaches; different ways of delivering developmental edits; editorial reports

Session 4: managing working relationships and useful ‘soft’ skills; designing your own developmental editing service(s); Q&A session

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