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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, 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…)
The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].
By Carol Harrison
Forgive me if this is a couple of months old, but it’s funny! Don’t fart in the House.
What you should read before you say fart in the House of Commons.
And speaking of saving a language, two Fulani brothers invent an alphabet for their language. Now they’re working on a font.
“A rose by any other colour looks just as sweet!” How did colours get their names?
And why you shouldn’t mix your colours in the –wash.
Try to or try and; there is no do.
The latest kid on the gender-neutral block: Latinx.
This article was copy edited by Ellen Fleischer.
By Vanessa Wells
Two years ago, Whitney Matusiak offered some good advice on BoldFace about wardrobe considerations for freelancers. Today I’m going to sing the praises of dressing up for working (mostly) at home. I am amazed at those who work in their jammies. Amazed in wonder, not judgment. The only things I can accomplish in my nightwear are scrolling through Facebook and drinking my first coffee.
My POV is about preparation, discipline, and focus. I am hyper-organized. I love lists. They are my modus operandi for life and work. In order to be productive, though, I must be “ready for my day,” and the physical must precede the psychological. (See the first point on Emma Gannon’s blog post about being self-employed.) (more…)
By Olga Sushinsky
Anyone who freelances must’ve encountered at least one fraudulent client/employer in their lifetime—and not necessarily through those “Make $100/hour from home” banners that pop up on legit websites every once in a while. Editors and non-editors alike can easily fall prey to less-obvious scams, ones that are so sophisticated that they might appear to be true. Before I give you some tips on how to spot this latter type of scam, let me share my story.
As a stay-at-home parent and freelancer, I always look for opportunities to work with different clients/employers. So, when I received an invitation on Upwork to submit a proposal for a non-editorial job, I decided to give it a try. After all, every experience counts. To make a long story short, I had an interview via Skype, received a job offer on the very same day, and had a training session the day after. Everything was going well. I was to work for a company located in the United Kingdom performing virtual assistant duties and receiving a yearly salary of US$56,400, which would roughly equal C$75,000, paid bi-weekly.
The situation couldn’t be any better! (more…)
By Judy Ann Crawford
When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”—Dr. Maya Angelou
It’s the freedom. Freelance writers say that’s the best thing about their job. They sometimes even gaze dreamily into the middle distance as they say it (drama goes with the territory), but just give them a few seconds. Their smiles soon dissolve and their faces cloud over because, ironically, the freedom can also be the worst part.
Personally, I’ve found that being the boss of my own time is really awesome. For example, if I want to celebrate that new assignment with a Starbucks venti vanilla latte and browse through Chapters for a while, that is entirely my prerogative. (more…)
By Denyse O’Leary
Things have changed a lot from the days when a computer took up a large room, instead of a zipper case in a backpack. But fortunately, good business practice has not changed. Here are some concepts that have helped many of us stay solvent over the years:
We don’t get face time with clients just by saying we need work; we get it by building confidence over time that we can solve the specific problems they identify. For example, one area I specialized in early was indexing. Indexes add greatly to the value of non-fiction works, but most authors can’t write them, and most editors are too busy to do it when it must be done—in the last stages of publication.
Other old-timers have made editing for science journals or checking a foreign language translation their specialty. Over the years, an editor’s reputation grows among clients who need the specialty—because, no surprise, those people tend to all know each other. (more…)