Top 5 Things I Learned at the 2019 Editors Canada Conference by Becky Noelle

It’s been a month since the 2019 Editors Canada National Conference in Halifax, and I am still processing all that I learned! It was an incredible experience that has helped me jump start my freelance editing business and get excited about all the possibilities.

1.  Editors are Important

Of course, we all already know that editors are important, or we wouldn’t have chosen this career! Being at the conference though, and getting to see the work that editors do and hearing about the difference they make for authors and academics, really brought this point home for me.

I attended Glenna Jenkins’ session on editing scholarly papers for ESL authors and got excited about the prospect that an editor could mean the difference between getting an academic’s work published or having it be rejected. Cathy McPhalen, Rhonda Kronyk, and Becka Barker, in their session on navigating funding proposals, showed how editors can help companies find and obtain grant money they didn’t know existed. Without the help of editors, these authors and companies would not be able to achieve their goals.

2.  Diverse Opportunities Abound

Before attending the conference, I had a rough idea of what an editor might do all day. But after talking to editors throughout the conference and hearing many of them speak about their businesses and positions, the world of editing was truly opened up to me.

An editor may liaise between a children’s book author, the art director, and the illustrator to create beautifully experiential children’s picture books, as I learned in Whitney Moran’s session.

An editor may use sensitivity reading—reading carefully, looking out for bias and stereotypes—to ensure that a book respectfully represents Indigenous populations, as Tiffany Morris spoke about in her session on Mi’kmaw Two-Eyed reading.

Or an editor may ensure the mathematical facts and reasoning are accurate in math textbooks, as Julia Cochrane does, whom I met during a speed mentoring session.

Before attending the conference, I knew that editors edited words. I now understand that the diversity of the works an editor edits is only limited by their own creativity, interests, and passions.

My biggest take away on this lesson was meeting with Janice Dyer during speed mentoring. Before taking my editing certificate, I was a teacher. I am interested in finding work editing educational texts—Janice showed me the way. In our short 20-minute session, Janice gave me pointers to get in touch with educational publishers and gave me great encouragement that there is work out there in my hoped-for niche.

3.  Business Data Increases Profits

I had the great pleasure of hosting Erin Brenner’s session on using business information to increase your profits. I have already used Erin’s fantastic templates to start tracking the time I am spending on business leads, sample edits, and the like.

Erin shared wonderful insight on the importance of tracking your business data over time to develop your own understanding of how quickly you work and how much you need to charge to make a living. Do you charge hourly? By the word? By the project? For Erin, it doesn’t matter—you should track it all.

If you charge by the hour, for example, tracking your data will allow you to see how many standard 250-word pages you edit in an hour and therefore how many words you edit in an hour. From your hourly rate you can then determine what your per-word or per-page rate is.

You can use excel to track the data and then decide if you are charging enough for the work you are doing and adjust accordingly. Tracking business lead data allows you to see which means are most effective in gaining work—and thus most worthy of your time. And tracking client types allows you to seek out those long-term, high-paying clients that will make your business sustainable.

4.  Clarity is Key

I attended two sessions that focussed on writing clearly: Eight-Step Editing presented by Elizabeth d’Anjou and Using Plain Language Principles to Improve Your Editing Practice by Nicole Watkins Campbell.

Elizabeth’s half-day session laid out the essentials for editing to increase readability. In Nicole’s session, we had the opportunity to discuss the frustrations with—and possible reasons for—unclear writing.

Both sessions again reminded me of the importance of editors. Without proper editing, writing may not communicate the intended message. Our world is full of distractions, yet writing remains one of the primary means of communication. Editors are essential in ensuring that the message is clear and accessible for the intended audience.

5.  You are Enough

My favourite session was Laura Poole’s pre-conference session on being bold in your freelance business. Laura talked about creating your own opportunities and authentic networking. The thing that really stuck for me was using the word “just”. Or not using it, actually.

Laura pointed out how we often introduce ourselves and what we do using words like “just” or “only” rather than really selling what we do. I quickly caught myself saying things like, “I’m just a student,” or, “I’m only just starting out in editing.” For the remainder of the weekend and beyond, Laura’s words have rung through my head as I introduce myself to someone new. I find myself about to say, “I’ve just finished my editing certificate,” or, “I’ve only written casually in the past,” when what I need to say is, “I have an editing certificate along with a bachelor of science and over five years of teaching experience where I wrote frequently for a variety of audiences.”

Having a freelance editing business is all about marketing yourself and showing clients that they need your skills to make their writing great. I may not have been “officially” editing for very long, but the reality is that I have skills to offer and those skills will only improve with more practice and time.

Thank you Laura and all of the other presenters at the conference for motivating and inspiring me to get started on creating a freelance editing business of which I can be proud!


2019 Editors Canada Conference Report By Becky Heaman

I attended my first Editors Canada conference a few weeks ago, June 7-9, 2019, in Halifax. I had hummed and hawed over the decision, as I had only started taking editing courses in January and wasn’t sure it was the right time for me to go. But finally in mid-May, I made the commitment and bought my ticket!

I can say now that it was the best decision – such a kind, and welcoming group! Everyone was super approachable and friendly, whether they were a speaker, an experienced editor/conference attendee, or a first-timer like me.

20190609 - Becky, Becky, BeckyI used the billeting option and was very fortunate to be placed with a wonderful woman and her family, Becky Skillin. Becky also hosted two other editors, Marie-Christine Payette and Mary Newberry.

I signed up for two of the pre-conference seminars and attended these on Friday.

Eight-Step Editing – Elizabeth d’Anjou

The morning session was on a topic I thought would be extremely useful as I get started as an editor. Elizabeth was a dynamo! She usually gives this talk as a full-day session, so we went very quickly through the material. We didn’t cover all the examples in the handout, but I am grateful to have them as a takeaway to work on later. We also received an excellent one-pager to post by my workspace!

Macros 101 – Amy Schneider

My afternoon session was a bit more technical. I have always been a quick learner with technology and am usually the person who others in my office come to when they have a question about how to do something in Excel, Word, or PowerPoint. But Macros is something I had never really explored, so I was very happy to learn so many tips & tricks from Amy. Using macros is about saving time on things you do repetitively. This session has laid the foundation for me, and I know this knowledge will be invaluable as I progress as an editor.

20190607 - axe throwingFriday continued with the Welcome Reception. A free drink plus yummy nibbles – my favourite kind of event. There was also surprise entertainment, the Halifax-based Maritime Bhangra Group. They were such fun to watch. Unfortunately, I did not get to stay and be a dancer with them as I had signed up for the Axe Throwing event and our group had to head out. I have never been axe throwing, but it had been on my bucket list for over five years, so I was thrilled to finally get a chance at it. What a great night!

The conference kicked into high gear on Saturday morning. There was a continental breakfast followed by the opening keynote, renowned journalist and author Linden MacIntyre. His talk about truth in journalism and how journalism has changed since he started his career was very interesting.

There was a wide range of sessions to choose from during the conference, and I tried my best to use the opportunity to learn more about what I could do as an editor. I attended four sessions on Saturday and four sessions on Sunday. My favourite sessions were:

Bad graphs: Editing graphs for readability, fairness, and impact –Robin Marwick

The biggest takeaway I had from this session (besides the point that pie charts should be done away with!), is that it is important that graphs are accurate, readable, fair, and support the story. Remember to look at the words and pictures together early and often!

Life begins at 40: The future of editing – Marianne Ward, Wendy Barron, Claire Goulet, Heather Buzila (moderator)

This panel presented some interesting stories about their personal journeys in editing. The biggest takeaway for me was that editing will be increasingly focused on plain language and inclusiveness, especially as publishing is happening on more diverse platforms.

Atlantic editors: Editing from the edge – Christine Gordon Manley (PE), Shelley Egan (NB), donnalee Moulton (NS), Sandy Newton (NL), Julia Cochrane (moderator)

20190609 - editors from the edge panelFour freelance editors, one from each Atlantic province, discussed how they have created their careers and grown their networks. I found the ladies’ stories really interesting, such a diverse range of experience. Each member of the panel had a nugget or two for me to takeaway, plus there was some hilarity! And really, it didn’t matter that the focus of the session was on being based in a smaller or isolated community, as I found all the lessons and suggestions super relevant for building an editorial business in general.

From the failing files: Learning from (big) mistakes – Laura Poole

20190609 - laura poole failure.jpeg

Laura shared some very personal examples of when she has made mistakes plus also opened the floor for others to share. The examples and stories were all very eye opening, but the biggest lesson in this session was not what will you do IF you make a mistake but WHEN you make a mistake. Laura outlined four steps to gracefully recover – apologize, make it right, examine how it happened, and implement changes to prevent it from happening again.

I skipped the Annual General Meeting and enjoyed a nice walk along the waterfront with a few other student affiliates I had met. J But I did attend the Awards Banquet on Saturday night. A big congratulations to the winners!

The conference wrapped up late Sunday afternoon with the closing keynote speaker, Sheree Fitch. She spoke about the relationship between the author and the writer, and she was marvellous! A great storyteller! And then the announcement for the 2020 conference – it will be the second international conference, hosted in Montreal!

I came away with a brain full of ideas and a nice stack of business cards! I have been slowly connecting with my new friends and colleagues, and already put next year’s conference in my calendar.

Frances Peck Presents Usage Traps and Myths

Frances and group 1
Thank you to all of the Editors Calgary and community members who joined us on Friday for Frances Peck’s presentation. The thoughtful questions and in-depth discussions made for an even more engaging and exciting seminar.
We also want to say a huge thank you to Frances Peck for taking the time to stop in and host such an amazing event. She not only took us through topics such as the trends of “verbing” and word usage throughout history, but she also took the time to lead us through hands-on exercises.
As always, it was a pleasure to get to learn something new while catching up with our fellow Calgary editors. If we missed you at this event, we hope to see you at our social event in June, or at our next professional development seminar in September. Keep an eye here and on our social media for upcoming details.

2019 AGM Minutes and Social Media

Hello Everyone,

For those interested, we have attached the minutes from the AGM to this blog post. Please feel free to email us at with any questions you may have.

To make sure everyone is on the same page (pun intended), below are the links for all of our current social media. Information for our events, as well as information about other events in Calgary, will be regularly posted to each of our pages.

Twitter – @editorscalgary
Instagram – editors_calgary
Facebook group – @editorscalgary
LinkedIn group – Editors Calgary

We look forward to connecting with all of you soon!

Editors Canada Calgary Twig AGM minutes Feb 23, 2019 FINAL

EVENT ALERT: AMPA’s Annual Alberta Magazine Conference April 4–5

Join your industry colleagues as magazine publishing leaders and visionaries from across North America share their expertise at the largest magazine media event in Western Canada, on April 4 and 5 at the Carriage House Inn in Calgary. Make connections, expand your professional knowledge and supercharge your inspiration in 14 break-out sessions and 4 keynote presentations at the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association’s 24th Annual Alberta Magazines Conference.

A Successful AGM

After a very productive AGM last Saturday, we are happy to announce that the twig will continue to bring social and professional development opportunities to Calgary’s editors. Watch here, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, for upcoming event information!its-alive

New workshop, brunch, 2018 conference & volunteer opportunities

Hello Editors Calgary and Calgary-area members. I trust you’ve had a good winter and that, like me, you’re ready for spring to arrive – or at the very least, for all this snow to melt!

It’s been quiet on the Editors Calgary front, since our social on January 30 – which a group of seven editors attended. Somehow, February and March zoomed by on hyperdrive, and we are now into April. Time just doesn’t seem to want to stand still!

It may have been quiet, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been working to design new professional development and networking opportunities for Calgary twig members and their editing friends and colleagues. Read on for more information about our workshop on productivity tips for Word, a brunch gathering in April, the 2018 Editors Canada conference, and volunteering opportunities with the twig.

Supercharge Word: 7 tips for boosting your productivity in Word

Calgary twig member Andrea Martin is keen to share her years of expertise and knowledge with local editors, and has designed a special half-day workshop that will leave you with seven ways that you can boost your productivity in Word.

The workshop is co-hosted and co-sponsored by our friends at STC Alberta, and will be offered on May 5 at Innovate Calgary.

More information here >

April brunch

It’s been a few months since we last gathered, so it’s high time for another Editors Calgary social. Some of our members at the last soirée suggested a downtown Saturday brunch on an upcoming Saturday.

Might I suggest:

Original Joe’s, downtown location
Saturday, April 14, 11 a.m.

I’m told their menu is quite good, and they offer a MealShare option that allows you to purchase an item off the menu that they will then offer to a youth in need.

RSVP to by no later than April 11.

Editors Canada conference

By now you’re probably aware that the 2018 Editors Canada conference is set for May 25-27 in Saskatoon. Are you planning to attend, and would you like to travel with local editors? If so, please email and I’ll be happy to connect you with other editors who will be traveling to the conference.

Still looking for volunteers!

At the moment, the Calgary twig is a one-woman show. Hence, in part, why this post is so lengthy – it’s the first time I’ve had in a while to sit down and attend to twig matters – and why things have slowed in terms of twig activities.

Volunteering is not only a great way to connect with other local editors and have a say in what activities the Editors Calgary twig can offer. It’s also an excellent professional development opportunity!

Learn more in this Editors Canada presentation:

Develop and maintain your skills: Volunteering as professional development >

Want to discuss how you might get involved with the twig? Have suggestions for upcoming events? Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

I hope you’ve all been doing well, and look forward to connecting with you at an Editors Calgary event in the near future!

All the best in the meantime,

Editors Calgary Chair

January get-together: What’s ahead for 2018?

Dear Calgary editors,

You’re invited to join us for the first Editors Calgary gathering of 2018! This will be an opportunity to meet other local editors, share your plans for the coming year, and help brainstorm events and opportunities for the twig for 2018. Or, find out about volunteering with the twig!

When: Tuesday, January 30, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Hotel Arts, Raw Bar
RSVP: (by Friday, January 26)

Please feel free to forward this invitation to other local editing colleagues and friends.

Hope to see you there,

Editors Calgary Chair