Caroline began her editing career in 2006. She edits fiction, memoirs, and self-help books, finding great satisfaction in helping authors refine their writing. She works in several fiction genres including children’s books, young adult novels, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, and historical fiction. As well, Caroline has edited auction catalogues, museum exhibition guides, university-level textbooks, academic articles and dissertations, and websites. Past clients include the Royal Ontario Museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Pearson Education Canada, and Scholastic Canada.
Caroline earned an Editing Certificate from George Brown College in 2008 and is a member of the Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC). You can access her EAC profile here. She frequently updates her editing skills by taking EAC seminars and writing workshops. In 2015, Caroline contributed the “Editing children’s and young adult fiction” section to Editorial Niches, A Companion to Editing Canadian English, 3rd edition, published by the EAC.
Before working as a freelance editor, Caroline was an antiques appraiser and cataloguer of glass, ceramics, and silver at a Toronto auction house for nearly fourteen years. She channelled her expertise in the antiques field into editing and ghostwriting for appraisers. She also wrote a number of feature articles on nineteenth-century pottery that were published in Antiques and Collectibles Trader magazine.
When not editing, Caroline writes fiction. She released her self-published cozy mystery, Virginia’s Ghost, in September 2014. Her short story, “Scruggy’s Shining Moment,” a tale of a disruptive dog, was published in Canadian Imprints, Volume II in 2013.
An Interview with Caroline
How did you get into editing?
I fell into editing at the auction house where I worked. We regularly produced catalogues, and I was the only one in my department who seemed to care about embarrassing errors, so I started proofreading the catalogues, and then other things like advertising and press releases. A colleague who knew I was thinking about a career change suggested I pursue editing, and I realized she was right–it was an excellent fit. I then signed up for night courses at a local college.
What do you like and dislike about editing?
I love helping people achieve their dreams of publishing a book, and it’s fun polishing sentences to make them sound more elegant; stylistic editing is really my favourite type of editing. I find tinkering with language very satisfying. On the less positive side, freelance editing can be very isolating. I’m not an extrovert, but I do need to get out and talk to people. And all that sitting at a computer isn’t healthy–I keep hearing it’s “the new smoking.”
What sorts of things do you like to tell your self-publishing clients?
First of all, there’s no hurry. Slow down and do this self-publishing thing right. Don’t blow it when you’re at the end stage of the process. Yes, you hired an editor, but you’ll need a proofreader too after the book’s been designed. As well, don’t keep writing the book when you’re in the proofreading stage. It will result in a lot of expensive changes, and you’ll likely introduce errors. Then some pesky reviewer on Amazon is going to say you should have hired an editor!
What do you like to do when you’re not editing or writing?
My lovely rescue dog Trinka, who has her own neighbourhood fan club, insists I go for walks with her in all kinds of weather. Who am I to argue? Road trips with my significant other are great fun, though lately he and I haven’t taken as many of these as we’d like. When travelling, we’ll go to art museums, hunt for beautiful pieces of art pottery or glass, and do a little birdwatching. I also love movies, particularly glamorous ones from Hollywood’s golden age. This might sound strange, but few things delight me more than watching Busby Berkeley dance numbers from the ’30s showcasing scores of dancers moving in kaleidoscopic formations. It’s absolutely gorgeous. As well, I enjoy baking, but because of dietary sensitivities, it’s got to be dairy-free and gluten-free for me. This is a challenge but not an insurmountable one.
Besides editing, what have you studied?
Graphic design! But that was a hundred years ago, before anyone was doing it on a computer. I also have a B.A. in psychology from York University in Toronto, as I once entertained the idea of going into counselling. Ultimately, I didn’t feel cut out for that sort of work. As well, I once took a course in hypnosis, so I know how to hypnotize people. And I’ve been hypnotized myself—it happens easily when you don’t resist the process, and it’s wonderfully relaxing.
What were your childhood ambitions?
I had a fascination for birds, nurtured by my father, and as a little kid I wanted to be an ornithologist. But I soon realized I had few scientific bones in my body. As I got older, I became more and more drawn to creative pursuits, and in high school I wavered between wanting to be an artist and wanting to be a writer. Both were equally appealing.
What are your ambitions currently?
I’m writing a sequel to Virginia’s Ghost and will eventually publish it. It’s going slowly because my editing work takes precedence, and I’m usually very busy with it. I’d also like to develop the writing side of my business more, which means writing more query letters, cover blurbs, synopses, and chapter summaries to help my clients find publishers/promote their books. As well, there are certain types of projects I would like to edit, but the opportunity hasn’t arisen yet. For instance, I hope someone will give me a cookbook to edit. I’ve edited a few recipes in a couple of self-help books, but never an actual cookbook. Editing work gods, are you listening?
My biggest ambition, however, is to fully regain my health. I have an illness, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), that it’s possible to recover from. In 2016, I did a great deal of healing work and have made some amazing progress, but I still have a ways to go. I’m active in editing and writing, but other things, like getting out and about, are challenging. CFS is exasperating because people who have it can’t be nearly as active as they’d like. And they look perfectly well, so no one even imagines anything’s wrong. Doctors have little understanding of the illness and very little money goes toward researching it, both of which need to change. I’ve blogged about CFS before on this website because it’s time for this illness to come out of the shadows. It’s a debilitating and isolating condition that affects approximately four hundred thousand people in Canada. The number is closer to a million in the US.
What’s your sign?
I’m not just a Virgo—I’m such a Virgo. This is ideal if you’re an editor, as it imparts the necessary nitpicking perfectionism. I’ve learned over the years to confine my perfectionism to my work, but that process wasn’t easy. When I was younger I always felt I had a lot to prove to people on all sorts of levels. That’s less true now. In Chinese astrology, I’m a water rabbit, a sign that likes to sit back and relax.
Dogs or cats?
Dogs. I don’t dislike cats–they’re graceful and beautiful–but dogs tug at my heartstrings in a way cats don’t, and to my mind, a roomful of dogs equals fun. Probably 80 percent of editors prefer cats, so I’m in the minority. I remember being at an editors’ conference where all the dog people sat together in a bar, and it was a very small group. This interest in dogs has sometimes nabbed me editing work, and lots of my clients are dog people. I’ve worked on numerous manuscripts that feature dogs.
Oldest, middle, or youngest child?
Youngest of four mostly much-older siblings, which should have made me spoiled, but I never felt that way growing up. I was from a middle-class suburban family in Toronto, and growing up I always worked hard, whether it was at school or part-time jobs. I never expected opportunities to simply be handed to me. My father was a practical man and my mother a dreamer, and I inherited both qualities, so I dream big and work hard.
What’s the dumbest cliché anyone’s ever thrown at you?
As a student I worked for a florist for about two days. He wanted me to run the front of the shop but didn’t provide any training. When he fired me, he said, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” I still remember his crabby red face and the smoke issuing from his ears. Later I realized he was right—it probably did hurt him more than it hurt me.
You’re of the opinion that living in the early twenty-first century leaves a lot to be desired. Which era would you prefer?
It’s really no wonder I dream of other eras when the news is a daily parade of ugly behaviour. Sometimes I just can’t watch. If I had my way, I’d travel back in time to the 1920s and hope they’d let me stay. All eras have had their problems, but the ’20s had grace and extraordinary beauty on its side. Design reached an apex of elegance during the art deco era that to me has never been equalled. And many women began to experience a thrilling sort of freedom then and make choices that weren’t possible for their mothers. It will soon be the ’20s again, but I shudder to think what that might bring this time around,
How old are you?
A lovely friend of mine, who has on occasion called herself the Greta Garbo of editors, refuses to divulge her age. I too prefer to be a woman of mystery, so you’ll have to guess.