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Editor for Life: Pamela Capraru, Copy and Stylistic Editor

Interview conducted by Arija Berzitis.

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 Five Ws: 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.

Photo of Pamela Capraru

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

I’ve worked as a copy editor in Toronto for over 30 years, mainly for magazines: Toronto Life, Azure, and The Walrus, both in-house and freelance. I received a National Magazine Award as co-winner for best editorial package in The Walrus, a rare honour for a copy editor. I started out typing manuscripts on octuplicate carbon paper at Maclean’s, took a job at TV Guide as editorial secretary, got promoted to copy editor, and earned my master’s at UOTJ (University on the Job). Once I found my niche, I chose to specialize and hone my skills rather than climb up the editorial hierarchy. Except for internships, which don’t provide the same intensive hands-on training, those entry-level positions no longer exist. That long arc gave me a foundation in print production and took me from the introduction of desktop publishing all the way up to electronic editing today. Since 2001, I’ve been freelancing full time for a diverse range of clients, from marketing departments and custom content firms to government agencies, non-profits, and academic presses. I’m “content agnostic,” which means I can edit pretty much anything for publication.

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Editor for Life: Jane Warren, Freelance Editor

Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian.

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 Five Ws: 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.

Jane Warren

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

I’ve been in book publishing for close to 20 years, first in New York as a literary scout, then in Toronto as a literary agent, and then as an editor at (the late and lamented) Key Porter Books and at HarperCollins Canada. Between stints as an in-house editor, I’ve always gone back to freelance editing, as it enables me to pour all my attention into my favourite part of the work: the relationship with the writing and with the author. I perform substantive and stylistic editing, and primarily work on literary fiction, as well as some narrative non-fiction and commercial fiction. I live on the top floor of a house in Roncesvalles, in the west end of Toronto, where I try not to be too distracted by the proximity of High Park.

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Editor for Life: Paul Ling, Owner, Perfect English 101

Interview conducted by Indu Singh.

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 Five Ws: 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.

Paul Ling

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

I live west of Toronto, and I returned to Ontario a few years back, after some 20-odd years working abroad, from Australia to the Middle East, the Far East, the Caribbean, and Europe. Since I used to be a clinical professor, and I’d trained in various surgical specialties, editing insinuated itself into my life because fellow students, and even teachers and professors, would always ask me to check over their work. I suppose there’s a great similarity between dissecting treatises and dissecting tissues; in the end, one gains a reputation for being meticulous and fanatically determined to get the task done thoroughly.

In addition to editing scientific texts—and not just medical texts, either—I do a great deal of work editing business communications, such as letters, business plans, and résumés, since I used to work in private industry as an entrepreneur.

English-French translation, among other modern languages, is another area of work for which I receive many requests. My editing avocation has been going strong for over 25 years, and I retired from clinical practice about five years ago to concentrate on editing full-time [at Perfect English 101].

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Editor for Life: Janice Zawerbny, senior editor, HarperCollins Canada

Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian.

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 Five Ws: 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.

Black-and-white headshot of Janice Zawerbny

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

I’ve been an editor for more than 20 years in Toronto. I’ve worked in-house for most of my career: I’ve been an acquisitions and developmental editor, who also completes the substantive and stylistic edit after the books have been acquired. I mainly work on literary fiction and non-fiction but have worked on commercial fiction and non-fiction projects as well. I think one of the best traits of a good editor is versatility.

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

I like working with smart, kind, and humorous people, so I think I’d have to choose David Foster Wallace. I think working with him would have been both fun and intellectually stimulating.

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Editor for Life: Michael Mirolla, publisher and editor-in-chief, Guernica Editions

Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian.

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.

Michael Mirolla

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

Right now, I live in Hamilton (on The Mountain, as they call it around here—the bottom end of the escarpment). Before that, I lived in Montreal, Mount Forest (with its “Happy & High” motto on the water tower), Toronto, and Oakville—with a teaching stint in Nigeria just for a bit of variety. My partner and I have run Guernica Editions for ten years, a Canadian literary publishing house where I serve as editor-in-chief, cook, and bottle washer. One of my tasks is to evaluate and then help edit any accepted manuscripts that come in. The great thing about editing manuscripts at a literary press is you get to work on different genres. We publish between 30 and 40 books a year and the final editing always comes through me. In some cases, the manuscripts are shipped out (a metaphor really, as they are sent electronically) to some freelance editors we have on call. They do the heavy lifting. By the time the manuscript comes to me, I’m mostly looking for consistency and formatting. In other cases, I take on the task of editing from start to finish. That includes checking the final PDF typeset version and even making sure the title and author name are spelled correctly!

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Editor for Life: Alana Chalmers, editorial consultant, Bell Canada

Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian

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.

Alana Chalmers

Photo credit: James Harbeck

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

I’m an editorial consultant at Bell Canada and my job is a mix of editing and consulting on document design. Editing people who have to write for their job is different from editing writers and it comes with some interesting challenges. I have to be extra careful of how I give feedback and part of my job is educating the team on clear communication.

I’ve been an editor for about eight years. I live in Toronto with zero cats but two kids who sometimes pretend to be cats.

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Editor for Life: Jess Shulman, owner of Jess Shulman Editorial

Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian.

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.

Portrait photo of Jess Shulman

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

I spent 17 years at major international corporations, doing sales, process improvement, proposal writing and communications. Those last two involved a lot of editing over a decade, and eventually I took the leap (and studied hard) and tackled Editors Canada’s Certification exams. I earned my CPE, and that gave me the confidence to finally leave the corporate world and start a freelance editorial business in 2016.

I like to keep my options way open, both in the types of editing I do and in the topic areas I work on. I mostly do copy editing, stylistic editing, and proofreading, working on novels, trade non-fiction, textbooks, and all kinds of corporate materials. For indie authors, I also offer a quite detailed substantive manuscript-evaluation service. For my corporate clients, I do quite a bit of writing—web copy, social media posts, marketing materials, articles, reports. Never a dull day at Jess Shulman Editorial! I live in Toronto with my husband, two kids and, of course, a cat.

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Editor for Life: Alexandra Leggat, publisher and editor of Two Wolves Press

Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian.

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.

Alexandra Leggat

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

I live in West Hill [a neighbourhood in Toronto] with my partner, musician Cameron Watters, and my Alaskan malamute, Lupa. I am an author and an editor, a creative writing instructor, and a tutor, and I play in a band called Pineville. I’ve been editing for years. I used to be the managing editor of Write Magazine, even before the publication of my first book. As a creative writing instructor and final project supervisor at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, I have been editing students’ writing for the past 11 years. As a freelancer, I edit manuscripts for various independent clients, and two years ago I started my own small publishing house called Two Wolves Press. I am the publisher and the editor and have had the privilege of editing and publishing Aileen Santo’s debut novel Someone Like You and highly acclaimed poet Catherine Graham’s award-winning debut novel Quarry.

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