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Editors Unplugged: Get to know our panellist for Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you?

 Interview conducted by Sandra Otto.

Our popular monthly program meetings often feature a jam-packed agenda. We like to keep our introductions short, so you can hear more from our panellists and less from us! It’s hard to do justice to the incredible wealth of experience these guests bring to the table, so we are offering you a preview with this short Q&A beforehand. 

This month, we are honoured to be joined by Michelle Waitzman, who will be talking about ways to evaluate new opportunities, so you can move your career in the direction you want. 

Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you? is based on her standing-room-only session at the 2019 Editors Canada conference in Halifax (co-presented with Jess Shulman).

Was there a time you stepped outside your comfort zone and loved it?

To be honest, I don’t find my “comfort zone” all that comfortable because I’m easily bored. As a result, I’m always pushing outside of it. The biggest leap I’ve taken out of my comfort zone was the most rewarding. In 2005, I moved from Toronto to Wellington, New Zealand, where I had no job lined up and no friends or family. I loved it there and stayed for seven years (and met my now-husband)! But professionally speaking, I think as a freelancer you sometimes need a “fake it till you make it” attitude. I often apply for “moonshot” gigs because you never know when someone will say yes. For example, I responded to a job posting for writing biographical material in the computer science field. I have no computer science background, and the only bios I’d written before were short website blurbs. I got the gig, and so far I’ve had the opportunity to write 15,000-word biographies of five fascinating people who’ve all won the highest honour in computer science, the A.M. Turing Award.

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Freelance Editing: A Lifeboat for Those Living with Chronic Illness or Disability: Part 2

by Natalia Iwanek

Stethoscope next to a laptop on a white surface.

Photo by Negative Space from Pexels

On Tuesday, November 26, we published the first part of a feature on freelance editing as an option for people living with chronic illness or disability. This is the second and last part of that feature. To read Part 1, click here.

The editing community is incredibly diverse. I hope that by highlighting our varied experiences through the following two interviews, I will inspire editors to see how life-changing this career can be.

Jane (not her real name) is a freelance editor with a PhD in a highly specialized field. She describes living with a chronic illness, while freelance editing part-time and working part-time at a research job that sometimes involves writing and editing.

What made you get into editing? Was this a career goal or was it something you naturally gravitated toward over the years?

Editing is something I’ve done on the side since high school. I formalized my editing career as a business after I got laid off from a different job in 2013. Part of the reason why I continue to edit is that I enjoy it, but another reason is that, with my niche skills, it pays well per hour and with minimal effort compared to some other work that I could be doing.

In what ways, if at all, has your illness impacted your editing career? Have you had to overcome any barriers?

I have Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the digestive system and sometimes other organ systems as well. The medications I’ve been on for the past 15 years have kept most of the worst symptoms under control most of the time, but I still get sick frequently and unpredictably and also suffer from debilitating bouts of fatigue lasting from days to weeks, again at unpredictable intervals.

Crohn’s is a complete career killer. I was unable to pursue a career in academia because of the restrictions it put on my ability to do certain kinds of research (because of the immune-suppressing medications I’m on), to travel easily (because of my inflexible treatment schedule), and to obtain affordable health insurance anywhere other than Canada. (Health insurance for anyone other than full-time, tenure-track faculty often has a yearly cap at around what my medications cost per month.) I worked outside of academia for several years but had a succession of bad bosses who did not abide by the accommodations my doctors outlined. I was pressed to work more than I could handle, ended up on sick leave, and then was punished for it.

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Freelance Editing: A Lifeboat for Those Living with Chronic Illness or Disability: Part 1

by Natalia Iwanek

Call it a sixth sense or intuition but sometimes the human body is capable of warning us of impending danger. Although strange symptoms had plagued me for years, I simply attributed them to overwork or stress and continued with my regular routine. Unfortunately, January 25, 2017, was the start of my life-altering journey.

I woke up experiencing an unusually severe stiffness in my lower back. As the day progressed, I felt a sharp snap in my spine. The pain took my breath away. Subconsciously, I knew that something had changed deep within my body and that this was no ordinary injury. Thus began years of physiotherapy, acupuncture, hospital visits, and perplexed doctors who could not understand why my spine refused to heal.

I developed increasingly concerning symptoms, such as debilitating exhaustion, memory problems, and severe allergic reactions, but doctors assured me that this was normal for those with chronic pain.  Meanwhile, I rapidly lost weight and grew weaker daily.

The time had come to revaluate my future plans. I needed to finish my education and choose a flexible career path. What better career than editing for someone who reads voraciously and has a strong grasp of grammar?

Between appointments, work, and excruciating pain, I enrolled in Simon Fraser University’s Editing Certificate program, and returned to Athabasca University to finish the remaining credits of my degree. Both programs are highly recommended for those who require a flexible, non-traditional route for their education.

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A Discussion on the Business of Editing

Stock photo of people in a group (faces not in frame), gesturing with their hands, having a conversation

Date: Tuesday, November 26, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Location: Viola Desmond Room (3rd floor) at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 192 Spadina Ave.
Map: goo.gl/maps/VRvEPVLumjmuHWbz8

We are thrilled to have received amazing feedback from our members through our recent programming survey. As it turns out, many of you want more of a community feel to our programs and are looking for opportunities to get to know your fellow editors. So, this month, we are hosting an evening of connecting and chatting about the business of editing.

The evening will begin with a short Editors Toronto business meeting. We’ll follow that with introductions and a moderated discussion on the business of editing. You will have a chance to present your questions to the group and share your own expertise with others. The floor will be open to talk to peers about anything related to working as an editor.

Potential discussion points include:

  • finding and keeping clients
  • pricing your services
  • training opportunities
  • dealing with challenging situations
  • managing your time and prioritizing jobs
  • working from home vs. working in-house
  • marketing yourself (e.g., website, social media)
  • leveraging Editors Canada to achieve your goals

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How to Find Freelance Editing Work: A recap

by Celina Fazio

Greg Ioannou giving presentation on "How to find freelance editing work" for the Editors Toronto April program

The April program meeting featured Editors Canada co-founder Greg Ioannou. The topic of the evening was finding freelance work, and, in addition to listening to Ioannou’s talk, attendees had the pleasure of viewing a series of short video presentations by four freelance editors: Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa, Susannah Noel, Adrienne Montgomerie, and Carolyn Camilleri.

These guests shared some tips and strategies on how to generate freelance editing work and illuminated the variety of sectors that editors work in—everywhere from trade publishing to government branches. The question addressed was, how do we connect editors with people who need work edited?

Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa spoke about the importance of not being shy and reaching out to online networks: social media platforms are great places to meet people and connect with other professionals in the industry. Maintaining a presence online makes you easily discoverable by people looking for editorial services. She also discussed cold emailing ideal clients—in addition to the possibility of getting work, cold calling gets your name out and recognized. Turnbull-Sousa also suggested trying mentorship programs, such as the one that Editors Canada offers, to work closely with someone in the industry who can share their experiences and expertise. Finally, Turnbull-Sousa shared her number one tip: volunteering! By offering your skills and services for the greater good, you not only gain valuable experience, but also express your interest in becoming more involved in the editorial field.

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How to Find Freelance Editing Work

When: Tuesday, April 23, 7:30–9:30 pm

Where: Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) Spadina, 192 Spadina Ave., Third Floor, Room F

For the penultimate program meeting of 2018–19, we are pleased to feature publisher and Editors Canada co-founder Greg Ioannou, who will speak about how freelancers can generate work, and what Editors Canada plans to do to help freelancers find jobs in today’s evolving marketplace. We’re also treating members to a specially curated collection of short video presentations, by a diverse group of editors adept at generating freelance work. Please join us for what will surely be an informative program devoted to the practical and business side of the editing profession.

More about our speaker:

Greg IoannouGreg Ioannou has a long history in publishing. He’s worked on well over 3,000 books, on topics ranging from cannibalism to vegetarian cuisine, and from science fiction to how to design a helicopter. He’s taught publishing at Ryerson University, George Brown College, and elsewhere, and served four terms as president of Editors Canada. He is the CEO of Colborne Communications, a writing and editing company, and president of the Toronto hybrid publisher Iguana Books. Through Colborne, Greg and his team have worked on everything from websites and self-published books to board games and government reports. As a hybrid publisher, Greg has helped more than 100 authors publish top-quality books in genres ranging from mysteries to political thrillers to humour, and in 2018, Iguana Books co-published with Canadian Authors Association the first in a series of planned anthologies of new Canadian writing.

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Prize-winner learns value of mentors

by Deborah Joy Innes

I was the very lucky winner of two (yes, two!) raffle prizes at the Editors Toronto meeting in September.

The first was the book The New Vine by author Robert Marrone. There were two authors present that night (Robert Marrone and Trevor Cole), along with their editors, speaking about the author-editor relationship.

The second was the last prize of the evening: a one-hour mentoring session with Jennifer D. Foster—editor, writer, mentor, co-chair of Editors Toronto, and administrative director of Rowers Reading Series.

Embarrassed as I was to have won two prizes, the timing of the mentoring session was perfect. (The book set in Italy was also very good.) I’d recently lost my job after 10 years as an in-house copy editor, proofreader, and writer in a legal marketing and communications department. I was now in the process of setting up my freelance copy-editing business. I had many questions.

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No editor is an island: The follow-up

Editors drink Wine too!

Editors drink Wine too!


by Carol Harrison

It was a dark and stormy night when I met with fellow editors at Editors Toronto’s coffee-shop event last week at Boxcar Social. We were a small group with varying levels of experience and comfort with social media. These meetings are a great way to alleviate the isolation that sometimes comes from working from home. Plus, it’s good to see the real-life faces behind the online names!

Janet MacMillan and I are both active on social media, with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogging. Marg Anne Morrison and Alicia Peres, not so much. Admittedly, these platforms can be time-consuming, but they also help you connect with people who you would most likely never meet, especially if they live abroad.

Marg Anne raised the question of what “working remotely” meant. We agreed that it most often means working from home. However, there are those who work in remote regions or rural towns, which underscores the role social media plays.

Alicia said it was good to talk shop without having to explain yourself. That’s why editor meetups are so good! They’re not so much to learn something as they are to let off a bit of work-related steam.

Having drained our wine and drunk our beer (kudos to Boxcar for having Dieu du Ciel and making me one happy editor), it was time to return home. For me, it was good to meet people and reconnect with colleagues.

If you couldn’t make it out, we hope to see you at the our next event: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go: A Bookstore Crawl” on November 19, 2016.

Carol Harrison is editor-in-chief of BoldFace and freelance editor and writer at Muse Ink. When she isn’t focusing on words, she’s focusing her Nikon D3200.

This article was copy edited by Nicole Osbourne James.