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Editor for Life: Wilf Popoff, freelance editor, owner/founder of Executive Editorial Consultants

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.

Wilf Popoff

 

Wilf, 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 edit and write technical material, mainly in law and engineering, disciplines I believe central to our civilization: law fosters its political accord while engineering creates its physical structure. I enjoy having a small role in both camps.

My wife, a non-fiction writer, and I live in Saskatoon, a prairie city with decent libraries and insufferable winters.     

I’ve always been an editor or at least since the last glacier retreated. Volunteering for my university weekly hooked me, and I spent 35 years at two daily newspapers, the Edmonton Journal and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Eventually, I no longer edited copy but supervised a newsroom. But at all levels one is still an editor.

When newspapers began to atrophy and no longer needed me I set up a freelance company. And I’m still editing after more than 55 years.

 

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

I am in awe of famous authors, but for me reading them can be upsetting. I frequently pause and say, “I could never write anything so brilliant.”

Therefore I would be reluctant to touch the MS [manuscript] of any famous author. Only a brave and confident editor could change something Orwell, Waugh or Atwood wrote. A seemingly unnecessary word may have an artful purpose.  (more…)

Book Review: Life without Envy by Camille DeAngelis

 

(St. Martin’s Press, 2016)

Life without Envy by Camille DeAngelis

By Michelle Waitzman

Camille DeAngelis is a novelist whose career has had its ups and downs. Like many writers, she often found herself battling self-doubt, jealousy, bitterness, and frustration. She decided that it was time to re-examine her beliefs about herself and her career and, most importantly, to examine her ego and how it was affecting her professional life.

Life without Envy: Ego Management for Creative People will resonate mainly with readers who consider themselves “creators” (authors, poets, visual artists, musicians, etc.). Although it is written from the point of view of a writer, and most of the examples in the book revolve around writing, it addresses common problems with working in any profession where success and failure are often subjective and where both praise and criticism are taken very personally.

Editors may find that this book is not really targeted to them unless they also have a writing career or aspire to have one. Nonetheless, some of the examples are likely to ring true. As an editor, it’s easy to feel envy or frustration after working for months to shape and improve a book, only to see all of the praise and credit for its success go to the author (whose work may not have succeeded without you). Also, many editors suffer from “imposter syndrome,” which is a feeling that you are only pretending to know how to do your job (despite the fact that you are actually well-qualified) and believe that you will be caught out and exposed. (more…)

Editor for Life: Patrick Geraghty, editor, Whitecap Books

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.

 

Patrick Geraghty,/ Photo by Jon Vincent

Patrick Geraghty/ Photo by Jon Vincent

Patrick, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I am the editor at Whitecap Books, a Vancouver-based publishing company that produces cookbooks and kids’ non-fiction. Mostly cookbooks. I’ve worked here for a few years now, before which I wrote for a few local arts papers and edited a bit of film criticism, sort of. I enjoy my current situation because editing cookbooks feels more like doing a Highlights puzzle than doing an actual job. For the most part, it’s just about looking for mistakes and things that aren’t like all the other things. It’s like doing a word- search, or a jumble. When I find incorrect conversions, an incomplete methodology, or something that disagrees with the overall style, it’s exhilarating! Plus, I don’t know anything about cooking really. I never cook, so trying to make sense of recipes is like . . . I get to ask a lot of dumb questions and everyone thinks I’m just playing devil’s advocate. Failing upwards I guess.

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

I would love to have edited one of those Doc Savage pulps from the sixties or, from the present, maybe one of those Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child? It would be fun to edit a book where the bulk of your criticism is just things like, “You should mention how tall the main character is again.”

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

I used to really like the square bracket and I would use it incorrectly all the time in college papers just because I felt like it had a cool austerity to it. But I got made fun of by my profs and now it’s not really in my life at all anymore. I haven’t really liked anything else much since then.

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

I feel uncomfortable answering this question in case it’s a monkey’s paw–style situation. I mean, I’m sure it would be lovely to edit books from a beach in the south of Spain, but not if I had to wear a horsehair shirt, you know what I mean? I guess it would be nice if I worked somewhere with free bagels and energy drinks.

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

I was previously working as a baker (I wasn’t good at it), and my boss told me I was a terrible baker and that I should try to get a job with my English degree. That sounded easier said than done, but then she fired me and so okay. I asked some friends for a job and they helped me out, then later I asked some other friends for a different job and they were like, “Do you have any experience” and I said, “Yeah I had that first job.” I feel extremely lucky to have a job where I don’t have to wake up at 4 AM, so I haven’t questioned much since then.

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

I used to really like writing when I was younger, and I even went to creative writing school in England. I wrote some poorly received Medieval fiction, but it took so much time and energy, and then no one liked it after all that anyways. Writing is hard work . . . you have to generate so much text, and you get so little feedback along the way. Being an editor is much easier. You can delegate all the ideas to other people, and they generate the text for you! Just kidding, sort of. Maybe this would be a good place for an emoticon.

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

Do whatever you want, don’t do whatever you don’t want.

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 Afara Kimkeran.

Webinar: What’s wrong with this sentence?

Correct usage of language is paramount to effective communication. The education system—from primary through post-secondary—does not offer students the tools needed for communicating effectively, whether verbally or in writing. The webinar is based on a workshop that was originally developed for the Canadian Authors’ Association national conference, and has since been presented to numerous groups, from university professors to public relations experts to journalists. It returns to the basics of language: when and how to use me, “myself, and I; clarifying appropriate adjectives and adverbs such as effective versus affective; avoiding split infinitives; the possessive apostrophe versus the contractive apostrophe; and dangling modifiers, among many other common usage issues.

The key concept of the webinar is that participants will gain (or possibly regain) a sense of the importance of correct usage of grammar and punctuation in the written and spoken word.

Date: Thursday, May 25
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75
Register HERE

Melanie Scott
Melanie Scott is freelance writer and the editor of the Low Down to Hull and Back News, an award-winning community newspaper based in Wakefield, QC.

Seminar: Intermediate copy editing workshop

This seminar is a hands-on workshop in which you’ll edit actual short manuscripts; the instructor will review the edits in detail with the group, discussing the reasoning behind various edits, alternative choices, and techniques. Throughout the course of the day, you’ll work on several different types of documents, practise using key resources such as dictionaries and style guides, create and follow style sheets, write queries to the author, and discuss the merits of specific editing choices with fellow attendees and the instructor. The session will also include a review of key copy editing guidelines, advice on finding information as you edit, and plenty of pro tips.

You are encouraged to bring
• a laptop computer with word-processing software (paper copies of manuscripts will also be provided) and
• a copy of the second edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, if you have one.

Note: This session is not for beginners. Attendees should be graduates of a copy editing course or have equivalent skills and experience (such as editing under the supervision of a senior copy editor for six months or more). Further, attendees should know how to create style sheets and write author queries. (more…)

Webinar: Techniques de révision après traduction

This webinar will focus on the specificities of editing translated material. The key learning objectives of this webinar are English to French consistency, and
key areas of focus in the editing of translated material (e.g., punctuation, syntax, anglicisms, etc.).

Date: Wednesday, May 3
Time: 12 p.m., EDT / 9 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: French
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75
Register HERE

Aude Gwendoline holds a PhD in Translation Studies. She has over 13 years of experience as a French translator/editor. So far, she has translated close to 80 novels for Parisian publishers.

Webinar: A linguist’s guide to grammar

What you learned in English class will help you with syntax about as much as what you learned in driving lessons will help you with mechanics—you get by fine until one day you find yourself stopped in the middle of a sentence with smoke coming out from under the hood. In this webinar, we’re going to learn how to take apart sentences the way a mechanic takes apart an engine.

The key learning objectives of this webinar are to

  • diagram sentences the way linguists do—accurately and elegantly,
  • learn about the building blocks of syntax,
  • clear up some common misunderstandings about verbs, nouns, and pronouns, and
  • dismantle and fix some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to apply “proper grammar.”

Date: Thursday, April 27
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75

Register HERE

james_harbeck
James Harbeck is a linguist, editor, and well-known writer and speaker on language. His articles appear regularly on websites such as TheWeek.com and BBC.com as well as on his own blog, Sesquiotica.

Editor for Life: Heather J. Wood, freelance editor, author, and artistic director of the Rowers Reading Series

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.

Heather J. Wood

Heather J. Wood

Heather, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I think of myself as a “wearer of many hats.” I started my career as a marketing copywriter for Reader’s Digest Canada in Montreal and now realize that was part of my early editorial training, as the work often required the editing/rewriting of marketing and promotional material from other Reader’s Digest countries. And, of course, all written material had to conform to Reader’s Digest’s specific house style and proofreading, which was a huge part of the job. I started editing officially sometime after I moved to Toronto, and was focusing more on my own fiction writing, while also working as a freelance copywriter. It was a natural, if unplanned, progression. I learned a great deal about the book-editing process from working with a fiction writers’ workshop and, especially, from working with my fantastic editor, Shirarose Wilensky, on my two novels, Fortune Cookie (Tightrope Books 2009) and Roll With It (Tightrope Books, 2011).

I work with Tightrope Books as the managing editor of the Best Canadian Poetry and Best Canadian Essays series, and I perform a variety of copy editing and proofreading tasks for these two series. As a freelancer, I edit fiction and non-fiction projects, as well as provide individual authors with marketing and publicity services. I’m also the artistic director of Toronto’s Rowers Reading Series and I’m often called upon to edit the series’ grant applications. When choosing writers to read at the series, nothing makes me happier than authors with well-edited books.

The highlight of my editing career so far is the Gods, Memes and Monsters anthology from Stone Skin Press in the UK. I was nominated for a 2016 World Fantasy Award for my work on Gods, Memes and Monsters, which involved curating and editing the short fiction work of 60 international authors. While working on that anthology, I discovered that I very much enjoyed editing fantasy, science-fiction, and horror writers. (more…)