Developmental editing for authors

Helping interdisciplinary scholars change the world
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Ideas on Fire provides interdisciplinary scholars like you the developmental editing services needed to successfully navigate the writing and publishing process.

Like you, we know how challenging it can be to produce innovative work that improves the lives of those in your community while also meeting the professional expectations of the contemporary university.

But those intersections—between activist and academic, between culture and the classroom—they’re our jam.

Read on to find out how we can help you write and publish powerful interdisciplinary scholarship that can spark new worlds.

Working with Ideas on Fire was an oasis, an opportunity to receive affirming, consistent, and constructive academic editing feedback on my writing. I trust my scholarly voice more consistently, have discarded the perfectionism that comes with long writing projects, and have more confidence with my capacity as a writer and thinker from their edits.”

Ronak Kapadia

author, Insurgent Aesthetics: Security and the Queer Life of the Forever War

“Ideas on Fire’s advice to maintain rather than resolve the tensions embodied by the fraught position of my research subjects helped to draw out my book’s critical framework and gave me important direction for revising and reorganizing chapters. They are wonderful readers who offer exactly the right amount of critical feedback and positive nudging forward.”

Minh-Ha T. Pham

author, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet: Race, Gender, and the Work of Personal Style Blogging

“I am so very grateful to Ideas on Fire for their expertise, professionalism, and prompt assistance. They get right to the heart of a chapter’s workings, and I’ve found their suggestions again and again to be absolutely on point. My manuscript is so much stronger for their excellent reading and advice. I feel I have a smart, subtle reader in my corner; it’s like a superpower.” 

Lauryl Tucker

author, Unexpected Pleasures: Parody, Queerness, and Genre in 20th-Century British Fiction

Developmental editing services

Click below to learn how we can help with your manuscript

Books and book chapters

WHAT IT IS: Big-picture editing of your book’s content, including argument, methodology, analysis, organization and structure, engagement with sources, and narrative arc

MANUSCRIPT TYPE: We can provide developmental editing for your full monograph or individual chapters.

INCLUDES:

  • One round of in-text manuscript edits using Track Changes in Microsoft Word, including identifying exactly where and how you can strengthen the text
  • One editorial report addressing the book’s key audiences and interventions, strengths, areas for improvement, revision recommendations, and ways to address the peer review reports (if you provide them)
  • Included for dissertation-to-book projects: Our advice on how and where you can revise the manuscript to transition away from the dissertation framework/voice and instead craft a book manuscript that fits what publishers are looking for

MANUSCRIPT STAGE: When you’re working on the manuscript content and figuring out what you’re trying to say in the piece

  • We can edit your monograph (or select chapters) before you submit the manuscript to a publisher or
  • Or after you’ve received peer review reports and want help implementing them

TURN-AROUND TIME: Determined by manuscript length

  • Full books begin at 30 business days
  • Individual chapters begin at 15 business days

COST: USD $0.10 per word

OPTIONAL ADD-ON (full books only): Publisher research report (USD $395 flat fee) identifying 5 US academic presses that we recommend you pitch your book to. Includes for each press:

  • Relevant acquisition lists/fields
  • Book proposal submission requirements
  • Book proposal review process
  • Series your book would be a good fit for
  • Acquisition editor contact information

Get a developmental editing quote

Book proposals

WHAT IT IS: Big-picture editing of your proposal’s content, including argument, methodology, analysis, market viability, audiences, competing titles, organization and structure, and narrative arc

MANUSCRIPT TYPE: We can developmentally edit just your proposal draft or your proposal draft + 1–2 chapters you plan to submit to presses

INCLUDES:

  • One round of in-text manuscript edits using Track Changes in Microsoft Word, including identifying exactly where and how you can strengthen the proposal (and chapters if you include them)
  • One editorial report addressing strengths, areas for improvement, and revision recommendations for the proposal (and chapters if you include them)

MANUSCRIPT STAGE: When you’re working on the book proposal content and figuring out how to pitch your book to publishers

TURN-AROUND TIME:

  • Proposal draft only is 15 business days
  • Proposal + 1–2 sample chapters begins at 25 business days

COST: USD $0.10 per word

OPTIONAL ADD-ON: Publisher research report (USD $395 flat fee) identifying 5 US academic presses that we recommend you pitch your book to. Includes for each press:

  • Relevant acquisition lists/fields
  • Book proposal submission requirements
  • Book proposal review process
  • Series your book would be a good fit for
  • Acquisition editor contact information

Get a developmental editing quote

Dissertation-to-book projects

WHAT IT IS: Big-picture editing of your manuscript’s content, including argument, methodology, analysis, market viability, audiences, organization and structure, and narrative arc

Available for postdocs and early-career faculty who are currently revising their dissertations into books (if you’re a grad student looking ahead, we recommend filing your dissertation first and then we would love to hear from you!)

INCLUDES:

  • One round of in-text manuscript edits using Track Changes in Microsoft Word, including identifying exactly where and how you can strengthen the manuscript
  • One editorial report addressing strengths, areas for improvement, and revision recommendations for the manuscript
  • Our advice on how and where you can revise the manuscript to transition away from the dissertation framework/voice and instead craft a book manuscript that fits what publishers are looking for

MANUSCRIPT STAGE: When you’re working on the book manuscript content and figuring out how to pitch your book to publishers

TURN-AROUND TIME: 

  • Determined by manuscript length, begins at 30 business days

COST: USD $0.10 per word

OPTIONAL ADD-ON: Publisher research report (USD $395 flat fee) identifying 5 US academic presses that we recommend you pitch your book to. Includes for each press:

  • Relevant acquisition lists/fields
  • Book proposal submission requirements
  • Book proposal review process
  • Series your book would be a good fit for
  • Acquisition editor contact information

Get a developmental editing quote

Journal articles

WHAT IT IS: Big-picture editing of your article’s content, including argument, methodology, analysis, organization and structure, and narrative arc

INCLUDES:

  • One round of in-text manuscript edits using Track Changes in Microsoft Word, including identifying exactly where and how you can strengthen the article
  • One editorial report addressing strengths, areas for improvement, and revision recommendations for the article

MANUSCRIPT STAGE: When you’re working on the manuscript content and figuring out what you’re trying to say in the piece

  • We can edit your article before you submit the manuscript to a journal
  • Or after you’ve received peer review reports and want help implementing them

TURN-AROUND TIME: 15 business days

COST: USD $0.10 per word

Get a developmental editing quote

How developmental editing works

SEND

You send us your manuscript on the contracted start date, along with any reader reports, publisher instructions, or specific elements you want us to focus on.

7

EDIT

Your editor(s) dive in: reading through the manuscript multiple times, adding in-text edits and revision recommendations, and writing up the editorial report.

7

REVIEW

The in-text edits and editorial report are thoroughly reviewed by two members of our senior editorial team. If additional work is needed to ensure the edit meets our high IoF standards, our team dives back in until the text truly shines.

7

RETURN

We return the edited manuscript and editorial report to you. You then incorporate the edits and revisions you choose and go forward with your publication plans, confident you have a fantastic manuscript!

Recent developmental editing projects

Cover of Anthroposcreens with a closeup on ice
Cover of Afrosonic Life, with a person holding a tape player on a beaded chain
Cover of Breaking the Gender Code, with abstract painting of people walking in a city street
Cover of The Cybernetic Border, with drone footage of the US-Mexico border arranged in a checkerboard pattern
Cover of Cooling the Tropics: Ice, Indigeneity, and Hawaiian Refreshment, with a child eating an ice cream cone
Cover of Ambivalent Affinities, with a blurred black and white photo of a Black femme person wrapped in the US flag

“When I came to IoF, I was feeling stuck and not sure what I needed to do to my book manuscript and proposal to make them suitable to send to presses. IoF made excellent suggestions to help me strengthen and clarify my argument and also gave me confidence with positive feedback on the things I did well. My book was accepted by Duke University Press thanks to Ideas on Fire’s editing.”

Lex Lancaster

author, Dragging Away: Queer Abstraction in Contemporary Art

After getting developmental editing by Ideas on Fire, I feel much more confident about my project. The questions, suggestions, and probes are so helpful that I feel a sense of buoyancy about my project. I have more direction and clarity.”

Shanté Paradigm Smalls

author, Hip Hop Heresies: Queer Aesthetics in New York City

“Like many academics, I struggled with conceptualizing my second book project and getting it in motion. I felt like I was spinning my wheels in a sea of wonderful, scattered ideas that would take forever to sift through and synthesize into a completed manuscript and book proposal. Working with Ideas on Fire, I gained a pragmatic game plan for completing my proposal and project, and academic writing feels fun again.”

Heath Fogg Davis

author, Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?

Frequently asked developmental editing questions

How do I know which type of editing I need?

Developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading are the stages a manuscript progresses through as it moves toward publication. All manuscripts will need all three types of editing, whether you do them yourself or hire a professional.

Manuscript reviews and developmental editing address content. If you are still hammering out your ideas and want feedback on what makes sense, how your argument lands, how to organize your chapters/sections, or what needs to be cut or added, you are at the manuscript review or developmental editing stage (the difference between these is largely determined by whether you already have a book contract).

Copyediting addresses writing. If your content is all set but you need help fixing the sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and citation formatting, you are at the copyediting stage.

Proofreading addresses lingering errors in the typeset page proofs issued by a publisher. It is a last-chance review of your proofs for typos, formatting inconsistencies, citations, and inaccuracies before the manuscript gets sent to the printer. If you are expecting typeset page proofs from your publisher, you are at the proofreading stage.

Can you help me turn my dissertation into a book?

Absolutely! Many of our clients are in exactly your shoes, and we LOVE helping scholars write and publish their first book—you can see a bunch we’ve worked on at our portfolio page.

If you have already begn revising, we recommend our developmental editing service.

Developmental editing includes the process described above, identifying exactly where and how you can revise the text to transition from a dissertation manuscript to a book manuscript. We also pay particular attention to what needs to be cut, what needs to be added or expanded, and what needs to be rearranged or reframed for this transition.

If you have not yet started revising or have only done so lightly (perhaps you’ve sketched out a new chapter or have an idea for some things to cut), we recommend our manuscript review service.

The manuscript review provides a holistic overview of the entire manuscript as it is now and offers specific recommendations for what needs to be revised to transform it into a book manuscript that publishers would be interested in. It also includes detailed advice on how and where to implement revisions.

The difference between developmental editing and manuscript review is in-text edits: with developmental editing you get in-text edits and a report, and with the manuscript review you just get a report.

Get a quote

What kind of manuscripts do you edit?

We edit academic books, book proposals, and book chapters aimed at scholarly presses.

We also do a lot of scholarly journal editing: full journals, individual articles, and special issues.

We specialize in the interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences, particularly the following fields (click on a field below to see our recent projects in that field):

We do not edit manuscripts in STEM fields, business, or marketing. We also don’t work on CVs/resumes, grant applications, tenure files, or other professional documents, although we’re happy to refer you to other editors who do.

For more examples of our editing work, see our portfolio page.

Which editor will work on my manuscript?

After confirming the editing schedule with you and signing the contract, we match your manuscript with the Ideas on Fire editor(s) whose editorial specializations, experience, availability, and expertise best align with your project.

You can read more about our editors on our about us page.

Every manuscript (and every edit!) receives a thorough review by two members of our senior editorial team before it is returned.

What happens if I miss my manuscript send date or need to reschedule editing?

When we sign the editing contract with you, we set all editing due dates and block time off for your manuscript in your editor’s and project manager’s calendars. Our team works on a large number of simultaneous projects and having clear deadlines (both yours and ours) is vital to ensuring we can provide you with quality feedback on your manuscript.

That said, we are currently living through an ever-changing global pandemic and even if we weren’t, life happens.

Sometimes the writing isn’t coming along the way you planned for, sometimes family or other obligations need to take priority, and sometimes your project changes in ways you didn’t anticipate. This is totally fine.

If you need to reschedule your project, we are happy to do so. We ask you to get in touch with your project manager as soon as possible to set a new start date.

Please do not just send the manuscript whenever you finish it. Instead, we will coordinate the new start date with you in accordance with your writing schedule and the next available spot in our client calendar.

How does payment work?

We will send you an invoice with the edited manuscript. Payment is due in full 30 days after the invoice is sent.

We accept payment by credit/debit card and bank transfer only. We do not accept paper checks. 

If you are using university funds, please confirm with your university before the project begins that they will pay via credit/debit card or bank transfer (most will).

We are a registered vendor with hundreds of colleges and universities. If we are not already registered with your school, we are happy to get registered, which allows your institution to pay us directly so there is no need for you to wait for reimbursement.

Will you ghostwrite my manuscript?

NO.

We have a strong ethical and political commitment to academic integrity. For scholarship to have credibility, it needs to be researched and written by the person whose name is on it.

Developmental editing should never include ghostwriting or producing original content for an author.

Further, we will not edit any manuscript that contains plagiarized material.

Do you have any additional resources on scholarly publishing?

Tons! Check out our resource library on scholarly publishing.

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