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Editor for Life: Sara Scharf, freelance 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.

Sara Scharf

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

I’ve been editing for pay for more than 20 years. My specialty is academic editing, especially for clients in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. I have many interests and have switched fields repeatedly, completing a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and technology, working as a medical market analyst, and then, as a postdoctoral fellow in engineering, studying how to increase innovation in extremely multicultural environments. I thrive on variety and intellectual engagement, which is probably why substantive editing, stylistic editing, and fact-checking are my favourite editing tasks. Of course, I copy edit, too, but I nearly lost my mind earlier this week putting more than 700 references into APA format on a tight schedule.

Journal articles, grant applications, promotion packages, and PhD dissertations are my bread and butter. While I help my clients further their careers, they give me the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research in a wide range of disciplines, from paleontology to polymer chemistry to sociology to electrical engineering. Since many of my clients are not native speakers of English, I often learn about their languages and cultures, too. They also inspire me to learn more about my own language and culture when I explain the origins of English idioms and the subtle differences among expressions. I love how some of the questions they ask really make me think. For instance, one client asked me to explain how possible, probable, potential, and putative are different from each other.

Helping people from a variety of backgrounds express themselves clearly and appropriately in contexts requiring vastly different tones draws on my creativity and is very rewarding. (more…)

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…)

Editor for Life: Stephanie Fysh, freelance editor and fine art photographer

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.

Stephanie Fysh

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

I work from a home office in downtown Toronto, where I live with my husband and the last of my three kids. In that office (and occasionally in local cafés), I fill a wide range of roles, from structural editor of YA [young adult] fiction to proofreader of university textbooks, working with both independent authors and established publishers. One month I might be sorting out reader-friendly sentence structure in trade non-fiction that tells a complicated but important science story; the next month could see me revelling in the latest volume of a regular client’s erotic science-fiction series. Between the variety of the work and the ease of getting laundry and baking done, I can’t imagine what it would take to get me to give up my home office for someone else’s corporate one.

For a number of years I taught editing as well, and was co-coordinator of the Ryerson Publishing Program where I’d once been a fledgling editor. Nothing hones your craft better than teaching it to others! I stepped away from that to give more time to other parts of my life—actual leisure time, volunteer work (I sit on the board of the Book and Periodical Council), and photography. Just don’t ask when my next show will be. I’m still working on that “more time” thing. (more…)

Editor for Life: Aaron Kylie, editor for Canadian Geographic

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.

Editor for Life: Aaron Kylie, editor for Canadian Geographic

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

I’ve had the great fortune of being able to make a career of being a magazine editor. After graduating from Ryerson University with a degree in applied arts with a focus on magazines, I got a job at Outdoor Canada. Within a year, I was the managing editor there and spent a little over a decade in that capacity. That position exposed me to a wide range of roles and responsibilities in the magazine business, from writing, editing, and composing display copy to working closely with the art department and helping to oversee many of the managerial-type jobs at a magazine. From there, I moved on to a short stint as the publications manager at the Canadian Wildlife Federation, where I oversaw the revitalization of their three publications, Canadian Wildlife, its French counterpart Biosphère, and WILD, a magazine for kids. In my current role at Canadian Geographic, I oversee all editorial content for the brands’ many media tools. Interestingly, wildlife and the environment have continued to be a significant part of the content I’ve helped to create for almost two decades now—issues that seem to be as important as ever today. (more…)

Editor for Life: Mary Norris, author, query proofreader, and keynote speaker at the Editors Canada Conference 2016

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.

Editor for Life: Mary Norris, author, query proofreader, and keynote speaker at the Editors Canada Conference 2016

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

I became a copy editor at The New Yorker in 1981, after three years in the editorial library (archive) of the magazine and a year in a department called collating, where I studied the proofs of some legendary proofreaders and copy editors. Copy editing at The New Yorker is a mechanical process: fixing misspellings and imposing house style—there is no room for interpretation. Finally, after what felt like eons—just as the collating department was being superseded by the computer—I moved to Page O.K.’ing, or query proofreading, a job that allows you to express more of your own sensibility. There are five or six O.K.’ers on staff. We shepherd the pieces through the editorial process, doing our best not to introduce errors when making changes. I’ve been doing this job since 1993. It is demanding and satisfying. (more…)

Editor for Life: Lianne George, editor-in-chief at Chatelaine

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.

Editor for Life: Lianne George, editor-in-chief at Chatelaine

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

I’ve been an editor for 15 years. Currently, I’m the editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, which is very much my dream job. Prior to this, I was the editor of The Grid, a weekly Toronto magazine owned by Torstar. Over the years, I’ve worked for a range of publications, including Maclean’s, Canadian Business, ELLE Canada, and the National Post.

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

This is a very tough question. It’s hard to contemplate the possibility that my favourite writers—Haruki Murakami, Mariam Toews, Edith Wharton, Joan Didion, George Saunders, Alice Munro, etc.—would have required any help from me. So just for the hell of it, I would pick either Caitlin Moran or P.G. Wodehouse, both of whom really make me laugh. Or Jane Austen, whose manuscripts I would enjoy immersing myself in for long stretches of time. It might be an opportunity to ask her, do these feisty heroines always have to get married? What would happen if one or two of them didn’t get married? (I might be fired.) (more…)

Editor for Life: Erin Holmes, managing editor at Firefly 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.

Editor for Life: Erin Holmes, managing editor at Firefly Books

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

I’ve been in publishing since 2001. I had acquired my BA in English with a minor in publishing from SFU. I found a job as an editorial assistant in Hamilton, Ontario, on Workopolis; the interview was via telephone and it went very well. So I packed up my Honda Accord and drove across the country to my first “real” job. It was in medical book publishing, which was a far cry from my dream of being an editor at Random House, but I thought, perhaps naively, that it was just a matter of time. Needless to say, 15 years and only two jobs later, my current position is nowhere near what my 25-year-old self dreamt of, but I’ve since discovered that I am immensely satisfied by completely different aspects of the job.

I now work as managing editor of co-editions, meaning that I take books written for foreign markets and make them suitable for distribution in North America. There are so many different changes that need to be made to each book, from language and style to content and imagery. I liken it to a bunch of balloons that are constantly being pulled at by the wind, and I need to maintain a firm hold on every string. It’s much more project management than editing, but I manage to fill my creative well by designing book covers and interiors on a frequent basis. I’ve been fortunate to mould the job to my interests. (more…)

Editor for Life: Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager at Outdoor Canada

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.

Editor for Life: Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager at Outdoor Canada

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

I became editor of Outdoor Canada in 2000, and, in 2011, I took on the additional role of brand manager as we delved further into brand extensions and other media. However, the bulk of my workday remains focused on planning, assigning, packaging, editing, and writing. I’m also active on social media under the Outdoor Canada banner. I grew up in Bracebridge, Ontario, so the magazine’s subject matter—fishing, hunting, and conservation—is close to my heart. I guess you could say this job was made for me. I began my editing career in 1984 (see below) and have since worked in a variety of media, both here in Canada and abroad. But it’s at Outdoor Canada where my career has been at its brightest: the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors named me Editor of the Year in 2005, 2011, and 2012, while Outdoor Canada itself was named Magazine of the Year. I’m very proud of that and of my team. (more…)