Editorial Services by Stanley Dankoski

Developmental Editing

You know how in most writing classes, you submit a piece of work — maybe it's a short story or an essay or a how-to guide on how to get your five-year-old to eat veggies — and you wait for feedback and you come back to a pack of salivating wolves ready to tear your precious work of art to bloody bits?

Or maybe that's just your fear: What if they don't like it? What if they don't like me? What about that woman in class who's already found an agent and who's got perfect hair and two divorces behind her?

Forget about all that. That's not how we'll do things.

You were called to write. You were called to write this one special thing that is important to you, and you feel it can be important to others. The contents of your book are a necessary contribution you have to the world.

But, try as you might, you did all you can to polish it, to make it the best version as you could muster. You and the work — you know each other intimately. You probably devoted more time to conceive it and nurture it into the world than you spent with your spouse or children or friends. And now, when you've finally completed that first or first few drafts, you're ready to share it with the world. But you need to share it with someone special first. You know your mom will just love it — or just hate it — and perhaps your friends will mean well but won't have the sort of feedback you're looking for, or they won't have the language to convey how they feel about it, at least not in ways that are precisely helpful, from a craft perspective.

You want to know if the book stands on its own. You want to know if the symbolism you threw in there on page 147 works, if we readers get it. Or if the character arcs are complete and make sense. Or if there are big gaping holes in the plot. Or if you forgot completely about a certain character. Or if the readers can feel in the depths of their own soul the agony of your main character's struggle of living a double life, her fingernails scratching the hardwood floors as she lay prostrate in tears, a splinter sliding in underneath, its pain the first real thing she has felt in a long time. Did that work? Was that believable? Did that scene even fit into that novel/memoir/self-help book at all? Are there more than one book in this piece of work that need to be extracted? Or how does this one novel fit into a planned series? Does the structure work? Does it feel like a cohesive whole, that the beginning and middle work so that the satisfying ending couldn't have been played out any other way? Does it have a distinct voice that readers would want to follow?

All this is part of developmental editing. In short, does what you wrote work as is? And more importantly, what is your vision for the book? That can be overlooked by editors. They can be part of the pack of hungry wolves, too. They'll just edit the book as is, without caring to know what you, the author, had set out to do.

That is where we'll start. We'll see if we're a good fit, if we're on the same page. You'll give me the manuscript, and we'll dive in. The process will take about four to five weeks or so. When complete, I'll submit to you a comprehensive document outlining what I love about the work, not just as high praise but as what is working, what is there to celebrate, what is there that aligns with the purpose of the work. Next I will outline the sections or threads that could use more help using suggested craft tools to get it to where you want this book to be. Suggestions really are suggestions. This is your book. Try a suggestion. If it works, great. If it doesn't, we'll try another tool.

You are the conduit that brings forth the work into the world. I'll be your guide along the way.

If you're interested in learning more, or to get started, contact me using the form below.


Copy Editing

In the tenth grade, I was the one student in English class who enjoyed diagramming sentences. Do the kids these days still learn how to do this? Well, I even said I enjoyed doing it out loud, in class, to the horrified faces of my classmates.

This love of language and breaking it down to its individual pieces to examine and explore them has transferred into the love of copy editing. I didn't realize I loved it until I was editing the college newspaper. It was not unlike how, in the movie A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe's character can see significant clues pop off the board. I could see what needed help pop off the page. My eyes zeroed in on what slipped through the cracks, and I was there either to fish them out or to patch those cracks.

It may seem that copy editing is the opposite of developmental editing. In developmental editing, we'd work together to shine a light on what is working, and move on from there. In copy editing, I'd essentially be pointing out, in your digital files, what is not working. At least it may feel this way because you'll see a lot of edits via tracked changes, and there could be hundreds of them, depending on the size of each chapter.

But have no fear, because those edits are done with the same love of your work as if I wrote it myself. Especially because we'll have started with a discussion with your vision for the book, where it's at, what idiosyncratic ways you want to keep a certain word spelled or capitalized, etc. Also, copy editing is there to pick up on inconsistencies, spelling errors, and grammar, as well as paying mindful attention to whether the book is written/edited to conform to the industry standard set by the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (the latest). In other words, I'm there for you to make sure your book shines and is as polished as possible.

If you're interested in learning more, or to get started, contact me using the form below.


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