Jen Milius – Developmental Editor

In this new episode of PublishHer Podcast, I sit down with Jen Milius, a Developmental Editor I also work closely with. If you have been following our podcasts, you would know that I am in the throes of doing developmental editing for my first novel, which was a really fun and enlightening experience because I haven't needed a Developmental Editor for my previous non-fiction novels. Jen and I met through the Women in Publishing summit, and I instantly picked her brain because I was at a point where I was figuring out where to go with my new book.

Jen Milius is an entrepreneur, developmental editor, coach, and accomplished author. She has published seven children's books in the series “Einstein and Moo.” She has co-authored “You Know it's a Verb, Right?” a book that encompasses personal development, business, and leadership principles. She has a degree in Communications and a Master's in Business Administration with 20 years of experience in the corporate world. She is passionate about helping other authors, and aspiring writers tell their stories through writing and leaving a legacy by confidently sharing those stories with the world.

In this episode, we talked about developmental editing and how it compares to the other forms of editing. We also discussed all you need to know about a developmental editor – when you need one, why you need one, and how you work with one. According to Jen, developmental editing is about looking at the big picture and can be applied to non-fiction books and fiction novels.

For instance, in non-fiction books, Jen looks at how the author is taking the reader on a journey to solve a problem and how the messaging of the book will lead to a transformation for the reader towards the end. Previously, I commented that non-fiction authors do not need developmental editing, but Jen opened my eyes and proved me wrong. Developmental editing is just as important in non-fiction books because you still take your readers on a journey to find solutions, learn skills, and acquire new information.

In contrast, when it comes to fiction, Jen looks at several critical factors to make the story work. Developmental editing for fiction books involves looking at plot holes, character development, pacing, and the story's overall flow as it provides an escape for the reader. Fiction books are made for entertainment, and it is important to have that in mind when doing developmental editing and consider the emotions that readers go through as they read your book.

So, when do you decide you need a developmental editor if you're writing a book?

According to Jen, you can reach out to her at any stage of your book. As mentioned earlier, developmental editing is about the bigger picture. Still, it is also about looking at how the characters fit into the story, how the plot develops, how the scenes are arranged, and how the story develops. She also emphasized getting beta readers because having another set of eyes is crucial in the developmental editing process. Beta readers are a group of people tasked to read an unpublished book or manuscript and provide feedback to the author through the lens of an ordinary reader. Getting beta readers' feedback is essential in different stages of the editing process to ensure the messaging of the story aligns and will make the readers feel they have been taken on an emotional or transformative journey.

As someone who has worked with Jen, we have formed a very close relationship. Jen also emphasized that when looking for a developmental editor, make sure that you fit well and work well together. Having a developmental editor will be a long journey for both of you, and it is important that you understand each other. That's why for Jen, the first one-on-one call or the discovery call is crucial because she can get more information from the client, which will help her realize the vision for the book and will help her in developing the messaging of the book.

Jen believes everyone has a story, and she helps them share it beautifully with the world. Authors have been given the gift to tell their stories, and she is passionate about making their stories heard.  

Key takeaways:

  • Jen's path to becoming a developmental editor was not straightforward.
  • Jen shares helpful tips on overcoming impostor syndrome inside the podcast.
  • Alexa shares how she struggles with impostor syndrome and how she deals with it.
  • Developmental editing can be done at any stage of the book writing process.
  • It is important to find the right developmental editor for you.


Resources and Links: 

Check out what Jennifer Milius is up to from her website: 

Listen to Jen's podcast:

Jen mainly hangs out on Instagram. Connect with her on Insta:

Jen shares her developmental editing pearls on YouTube. Watch them here:

Listen to this episode!