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Recap of Editing Comics: From Concept to Publication

by Catherine Dorton and Paul Ling

Editing Comics: From Concept to Publication panellists Allison O’Toole, Megan Kearney, and Steven Andrews

Panellists Allison O’Toole, Megan Kearney, and Steven Andrews

On Tuesday, October 22, Editors Toronto hosted a lively panel discussion with comics anthology editor Allison O’Toole, cartoonist Megan Kearney, and TO Comix Press founder Steven Andrews.

These three industry pros were full of ideas and inspiration for comic book creators, anthology curators, editors, and anyone else interested in breaking into the field. They introduced us to some trends, including the explosion of sales in comics, new publishing imprints dedicated to graphic novels, and self-publishing opportunities. They made sure we knew what counts as a comic (hint: it isn’t merch!) and what kinds of stories readers are hungry for (lesson #1: not capes). According to the trio, superhero comic sales are down, while emotionally complex, historical, and pop culture content is on the rise. Also, the growing landscape of new artists is wonderfully diverse, expanding the field for audiences of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and orientations.

Next, the panellists outlined the roles an editor might play in all stages of the publishing process, from gathering the material to editing the story and art to creating publishing schedules and resolving disputes. (So editors of comics need to be flexible and comfortable in various roles!)

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Editor for Life: Janice Zawerbny, senior editor, HarperCollins Canada

Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian.

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 Five Ws: 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.

Black-and-white headshot of Janice Zawerbny

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 been an editor for more than 20 years in Toronto. I’ve worked in-house for most of my career: I’ve been an acquisitions and developmental editor, who also completes the substantive and stylistic edit after the books have been acquired. I mainly work on literary fiction and non-fiction but have worked on commercial fiction and non-fiction projects as well. I think one of the best traits of a good editor is versatility.

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

I like working with smart, kind, and humorous people, so I think I’d have to choose David Foster Wallace. I think working with him would have been both fun and intellectually stimulating.

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Editing the work of English language learners in higher education

by Summer Cowley

Two laptops open side by side facing right. Stack of papers in between them. A set of hands holding a pen pointing at the papers while another hand (belonging to another person) is also holding a pen pointed at the stack of papers. Image implies one person teaching or reviewing material with another person.

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

As classes in universities and colleges move forward, we ought to consider the process of editing the writing of post-secondary students. For me, this has largely meant checking the work of English language learners (ELLs). In my work as a writing centre tutor and as an English as a second language (ESL) instructor at four higher education institutions in Canada, I have noted two common pieces of advice given by instructors to ESL students and three higher-level concerns that editors might consider. ELLs are generally advised to use spelling and grammar software and to have their written work proofread by native English (L1) speakers/writers. For editors, a few higher-level questions may arise concerning the development of a writer’s voice, the question of how much editing is too much, and how editing for ELLs requires an approach different from editing for other groups. Below, I discuss how we might approach these issues when working with ELLs at post-secondary institutions.

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