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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.

 

 

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…)

Editor for Life: Jeanne McKane, freelance editor, co-chair of the Editors Canada Certification Steering Committee, and 2017 recipient of the Lee d’Anjou Volunteer of the Year award

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.

Jeanne McKane

Jeanne, 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 have been an editor for 21 years (gulp), and a freelancer for 16 of those (whoa). My first-ever paid work in editing was as a proofreader for a small company that publishes travel trade magazines. It was spectacular training ground: an endless supply of proofreading, and a production manager who wanted an apprentice, so I was able to learn a great deal about print production. From there, I worked in publications at the Canadian Diabetes Association, and when another staff member left, I suddenly became managing editor of their medical journal! I didn’t know much about the world of journal publishing, so it was a real trial by fire, but that job turned into another job in medical editing, which led to a freelance career specializing in medical and science editing, and I absolutely love it. Now I work with government, non-profit organizations, journal publishers, corporations and individual authors to improve the quality of science communication. My favourite thing is to help people prepare their journal articles for publication, particularly people whose first language is not English. Sort of an odd career path for someone who studied English, Celtic Studies, and Scottish Literature, but you never know where life will take you!

My work in science editing got me very interested in certification, because I work so much with doctors, nurses, and people in other regulated professions. Early in my career, I was very glad to find the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, which runs a certification program for science editors, so I took their exam as soon as I was eligible. Not long after that, Editors Canada launched its certification program, and I jumped at the chance to do that, too. I have appreciated the chance to test my editorial skills against the standards set by two national-level organizations. As well, both certifications have been really valuable in my everyday work: they allow me to present myself to clients as a specialist in another field, which creates a very different working relationship. (more…)

Editor for Life: Greg Ioannou, freelance editor, owner of Colborne Communications, and co-founder of PubLaunch.com and Iguana 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.

Greg Ioannou

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

I started freelancing on September 6, 1977, though I’d done lots of writing and some volunteer editing for a couple of years before that. So not quite 40 years. My first paid editing gig was working on Coles Notes (I edited almost 200 of them), and from there I branched out into textbooks, dictionaries, and trade books. By 1982, I was working for a range of publishers, and also editing a section of Ontario’s provincial budget. I’ve always been a complete generalist. My all-time favourite customer was Cranium, the board game company. I worked on over 30 games for them.

In 1985, I agreed to share a small office with two friends, which ended my days as a lonely freelancer working from my spare bedroom. That became a company that was originally called The Editorial Centre and is now Colborne Communications.

Five of us founded Iguana Books in 1991 as a book packaging company. (We put out one book soon after we launched the company. It was someone else’s pet project—an academic book on a business subject—and I’ve never seen a copy of it.) In 2011 I converted Iguana to a hybrid publisher, serving self-publishing authors. Iguana has published about 70 books, many of which I’m intensely proud of.

Iguana publishes general trade books—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, kids’ books, whatever. I won’t publish a book unless it is at a fully professional standard. Our books are as well edited and designed as the books coming out of the major trade-publishing companies. As an editor, I’ve always been a complete generalist, and my publishing company is the same.

Iguana started crowdfunding its books in 2013, mostly using a New York-based website called Pubslush. By early 2015, a large portion of my income was coming through Pubslush, so when the company announced in August 2015 that it was going out of business, I sort of acquired the company. That deal fell apart seven weeks later. We’d been planning to rebrand the company as PubLaunch anyway, so that was an opportunity to program PubLaunch the way we’d wished that Pubslush had worked. (more…)

Editor for life: Marnie Lamb, freelance editor, indexer, and writer

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.

Marnie Lamb
 

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

My first paid editing job was at the, then named, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in Hull, Quebec. I was hired during the summer when I was doing my master’s degree in English literature. (I won’t tell you how many years ago that was!) The job was quite a coup for a student, considering that most of my classmates stacked books at Chapters or worked as teaching assistants in mandatory English courses for unruly engineering students.

After I graduated, I left Indian Affairs and pursued other goals over the next few years (including a second master’s degree, this one a combined creative writing and English literature program). I then worked for a year as an editor for a professor at the University of Ottawa before moving to Toronto. I freelanced for a few months and then landed a position as a catalogue editor for an advertising agency that produced all of Sears’s advertising. I remained in that job over five years before making one of the best decisions of my life in September 2009, when I left the agency to start my own freelance editing business, Ewe Editorial Services.

Since then, I’ve completed a Publishing certificate at Ryerson University and watched my business blossom. I work mainly in book publishing, with scholarly, educational, and trade publishers. My specialties are permissions research, indexing, copy editing, and proofreading. Like most other freelancers, I love the variety and the freedom that comes with being my own boss.

Outside of editing, I have many hobbies and not enough time to pursue them! My passion is writing fiction. Several of my short stories have been published in Canadian literary journals. My first book, a preteen/teen novel named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, has just been published by Iguana Books, the publishing company of Editors Canada past president Greg Ioannou. (more…)

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…)

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.