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Editor for Life: Sandra O’Brien, editor of Canadian Children’s Book News

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster
A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Sandra O'Brien

Sandra, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (and where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I’ve only been the editor of Canadian Children’s Book News since April 2016. It’s my dream job and one of two publications that the Canadian Children’s Book Centre produces. I work from home, which is in Ajax, Ontario, and I love being able to do that. I’m a wife and the mom of two university-aged kids and two furbabies—both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

As the editor of Book News, I choose and assign books to be reviewed by reviewers across the country, decide on and assign articles to be included in the magazine, juggle all sorts of deadlines, and, of course, edit the pieces we include in the magazine. I’m very fortunate that we have a copy editor who catches all the mistakes I don’t. I also work closely with Meghan Howe, the librarian at the Book Centre and our designer. And I read, read, read Canadian children’s literature. (more…)

Book Review: Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar by David Crystal

Crystal against crystallization

by James Harbeck

(Oxford University Press, 2017) MAKING SENSE

How can we have crystal-clear language spoken by people with a crystal-clear understanding of how it works? For one thing, don’t try to crystallize it—just Crystal-ize. Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar, by David Crystal, is for anyone who wants to get Crystal clarity on the function and uses of English. Crystal is a world-renowned British linguist, academic, and author. He is one of the leading lights of popularizing linguistic understanding; he has written, co-written, or edited more than 120 books, including the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, The Stories of English, Language and the Internet, and, most recently, a series of books beginning with Spell It Out: The Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling, continuing with Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation, and now adding Making Sense, which gives us what is effectively an introductory course in English linguistics—syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics, and history—written for people who want something readable and usable. And he adds some extra details that you’re more likely to get in a course in effective writing.

It can be difficult to review a book that has nothing wrong with it. Honestly, in real life I would normally just say, “If you’re interested in grammar, read this book; if your work in any way involves grammar—and of course it does—read this book; even if you know a lot about grammar already, it will still be worth your time.” But let me give you some more details so you know why I’m recommending it. (more…)

Editor for Life: Jennifer Croll, editorial director of Greystone Books and author

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So, we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Jennifer Croll

 

Jennifer, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I’m one of those odd birds who is both a writer and an editor, and I’ve been doing both professionally for about 14 years. I attended the master of publishing program at SFU, and after graduating my first jobs were in magazines—a field where it’s easy to both write and edit. I published my first book, Fashion That Changed the World, in 2014, and began working at Greystone Books in Vancouver soon after. I’m now Greystone’s editorial director, and spend my days editing and acquiring books and managing the editorial department. I write books at night, and will be publishing my third and fourth books in 2018 and 2019.

Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?

I’ll say Dorothy Parker. I’m sure she’d be a handful, but I’d get some stories out of it.

What: Do you have a favourite punctuation mark and/or a favourite word?

That’s a diplomatic question. Editors, from what I know, spend most of their time hating certain words and punctuation marks! I’ll offer you a favourite letter instead: ø. I just finished working on a book written by Norwegians, and I grew quite fond of the slashed o.

Where: If you could work anywhere in the world as an editor, where would that be?

From a luxurious mansion in the south of France, paid for with the millions of dollars I’ve made editing.

When: Was there ever a time in your life when you seriously questioned your career choice?

Yes—in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, when I was freelancing and there was very little work. I’m very glad I didn’t retrain to become a dental hygienist.

Why: Why did you choose to become an editor? Or, should we ask: Why did editing choose you? 

 After I finished my undergrad degree, I moved to London, England, and looked for a job. It was the first time in my life I’d needed to consider my actual skill set. I saw a job posting for an editorial assistant, thought, “I could do that,” and applied. I had a job on my third day in the country, jet lag be damned. That pretty much settled my fate.

And, of course, we just had to ask the inevitable how: How would you sum up your motto?

Just like that 1970s poster featuring a kitten hanging on for dear life, “Hang in there.”

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance editor and writer, specializing in book and custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. She is also chair of Editors Toronto and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series.

This article was copy edited by Nicole North.

 

 

Being a digital nomad: Or how to edit from the beach

Beach editing

Photo by Rachel Stuckey

By Rachel Stuckey

I’m a digital nomad. For years I’ve told anyone who asked that I was a writer and editor (even though editing pays most of my bills). But lately, the way I work has been more interesting than the work I actually do.

But I’m still getting used to saying “I’m a digital nomad” (and sometimes, I confess, I often use air quotes when I do say it). I know what “digital nomad” conjures up: visions of twenty-somethings with no job prospects and an unnatural attachment to their smartphones.

Air quotes aside, such visions are really just the surface of this cultural phenomenon. (And thanks to Insta-influencers and click-bait web content, that surface seems both beautiful and vacuous). But there are plenty of Gen Xers, Xennials, and even grown-up millennials doing marvellous and fascinating things on the road.

I’d like to think I’m one of the grown-up digital nomads. For the last several years, I’ve been seeking out new temporary homes for me and my editorial services business, sometimes spending months in one place and sometimes changing it up every few weeks.

In 2012, I was a burned-out freelancer looking for adventure. After months of preparation, I headed out on a trip around the world, with stops in Thailand, China, Cambodia, India, the UAE, Spain, France, Italy, and the UK before coming home nine months later. Everyone thought that might be it, adventure had.

But I wasn’t ready to settle back into the same old same old. And I’ve been on the move ever since, spending some months each year in Toronto and the rest of my time in Europe, South and Central America, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 2018, I’m returning to Thailand, and then on to Southern Africa.

This wanderlust may have begun as therapy for my tertiary life crisis. But over the last five years of living and working abroad and living and working in Toronto, I’ve realized that there is a strong economic argument for tackling our gig economy as a nomad. After several months living at home in TO again, my pocketbook is itching to get the heck out of Dodge! (Also, winter is coming, and I hate wearing socks and shoes.) (more…)

Editor for Life: Rehana Begg, editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine and REM—Resource Engineering & Maintenance, Annex Business Media

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Rehanna Begg

 

Rehana, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

A couple of decades ago, an internship turned into my first paying job as an editorial assistant at Homemakers Magazine, a women’s lifestyle magazine. I had the pleasure of working with a group of brilliant women who inspired me to change course from being an aspiring news reporter to pursuing a career in magazine editing. I stayed on that course for about 10 years, working at Canadian Home Workshop and launching a freelance writer/editor career. As a freelancer, I was able to peddle my magazine journalism skills all the way to Cape Town, South Africa, where a stint at Best Life, a men’s lifestyle publication, allowed me to interview sources from the sandy beaches of Llandudno. The freelance experience strengthened my belief that journalism nurtures an insatiable curiosity and clued me into what I wanted to focus on in the next leg of my career. When I returned to Toronto in 2008, I decided to pursue a master of journalism degree as a way to foster my interest in business-to-business (B2B) publishing. But the program did not offer business reporting at the time and I had to find a role that would give me hands-on experience. I accepted a contract role as the editor at Benefits Canada, a B2B publication formerly owned by Rogers Media, which was an excellent inroad into the world of finance and institutional investments. From there, I was offered an opportunity at Annex Business Media, where I would edit a couple of maintenance and engineering publications. My role at Annex has been more of a content manager than magazine editor because my multi-platform portfolio includes managing the content of two magazines, two websites, and newsletters, as well as developing events such as webinars, round tables, and video production. It’s a busy desk, but I have still managed to complete an MBA with a project management specialization in my spare time. Staying relevant has been pivotal in ensuring personal satisfaction and career longevity in today’s content farm environment. (more…)

Editor for Life: Kerry Clare, editor of 49th Shelf, author, writing and blogging instructor, freelance writer and editor

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Kerry Clare

Kerry, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

My true confession is that I don’t feel totally comfortable identifying as an editor—I’m not very good at it. I learned this when I edited the essay anthology, The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood, which was published in 2014. I was very effective at coming up with a vision for the book, for conceptualizing it, coordinating the writers and the project as a whole. But when the time came for the nitty-gritty editing work, I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully my publisher, Goose Lane Editions, enlisted their fiction editor, Bethany Gibson, to come on board, and it’s from watching her work that I learned that editing is truly a vocation. She had such an awesome sense of the shape of the book and how its pieces fit together, and also a spectacular talent for diplomacy, which is an essential part of the job.

Since 2011, I’ve been the editor at 49thShelf.com, a huge and wonderful Canadian books website, where my tasks involve those that “editor” has grown to comprise in the digital world and helping to envision the site’s focus. I’ve been similarly fortunate to work with an excellent editor who makes me look legit. My colleague, Kiley Turner—nominally the site’s managing editor, among many other hats she wears—has taught me everything I know about style, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and being detail-oriented. Unfortunately for her, I forget a lot, and she has to tell me over and over again.

While I might fall down in the grammar department, I’m very good at other parts of my job, including staying on top of the hundreds of Canadian-authored books released each month and choosing which ones to feature on our site. Right now I am going through spring 2018 books to find noteworthy titles to feature in our spring preview. I write blog posts and create reading lists to draw interesting connections between different books and find different ways to spotlight titles and catch readers’ interest. I love that reading books is officially part of my job, and that I get to work with authors to help spread the word about their books. This isn’t a job that existed back when I was dreaming up my future, and my younger self would not be able to fathom it. Quite frankly, I still can’t quite fathom it.

My office is my kitchen table at my apartment in downtown Toronto, and I work while my children are at school. (more…)

Webinar: Copy editing live!

Try your hand at copy editing a short text provided in advance, then see how a seasoned editor works through it with lively and informative running commentary: explaining the edits, discussing alternative possibilities, pointing out how the editing tasks relate to the Editors Canada standards for copy editing, and recommending resources for further study.

Attendees will have opportunities to ask questions and will receive a copy of the professionally edited exercise with changes tracked.

Webinars:

  • Trade book excerpt
  • Academic article excerpt
  • Educational materials excerpt (elementary-school level)

Participants will get a chance to do the one thing that beginning editors need most: practise, with feedback from an experienced editor.

The idea is to recreate the experience of taking up an assignment in the final class of an editing course.

As a result of attending this session, attendees will be able to

  • apply their intermediate editing skills with more confidence
  • identify some strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in their editing
  • recognize some conventions of copy editing in particular genre of text

It is recommended that you have some knowledge of copy editing before taking this webinar—enough to know

  • how copy editing differs from stylistic editing and proofreading;
  • how to make a style sheet; and
  • how to write an author query.

Presenter: Elizabeth d’Anjou
Date: Mondays, January 15, 22 and 29
Time: 12 p.m., EST / 9 a.m., PST
Length: Three sessions of 1.5 hours each
Language: English
Level: Introductory
Member price: $178.50
Non-member price: $255.00
Register HERE

elizabeth-danjou
In over 20 years as a freelance editor, Elizabeth d’Anjou has edited trade books, textbooks, academic articles, memoirs, government reports, games, and more. She teaches copy editing for Ryerson University and presents communications workshops across Canada. Follow her on Twitter: @ElizdAnjou

Webinar: Effective technical editing

Technical editing is a special skill that requires editors to create documents such as procedures that are short and accurate while ensuring all safety considerations are included in their appropriate places. This is essential for any technical communications. This process will be demonstrated via the review and editing of a procedure on how to cook pasta that is currently too long, inconsistent, and terribly unsafe.

As a result of participating in this webinar, you will learn how to objectively observe and evaluate an existing procedure (document or video) using critical thinking skills. You will then learn how to edit and revise the text to create a new, accurate, and safe instructional procedure. This is particularly useful because it demonstrates how common practices are often extremely dangerous.

This webinar is geared to students or junior editors with basic experience in the topic area.

Presenter: Edward Fenner
Date: Wednesday, December 13
Time: 12 p.m., EST / 9 a.m., PST
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Level: Introductory
Member price: $59.50
Non-member price: $85
Register HERE

Edward Fenner is a writer, editor, publisher, and consultant with over 30 years’ experience in corporate and academic settings.