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Reading list

fall leavesA short list to read as we creep into September and the season of back-breakingly heavy magazines (Vogue is packing 902 pages this year – Anna Wintour’s letter doesn’t appear until page 276).

Did you know that Canada’s magazine industry has a Best Practices Guide? D.B. Scott explains how editors, publishers and writers can benefit from following its principles. The guide was created by the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors and Magazines Canada.

New words added to Oxford Dictionaries Online: apols, cakepop, foodbaby, jorts, phablet, selfie, twerk, omnishambles and more. Check out the definitions here. (Thanks for the link, Corinna vanGerwen.)

A new marketing tactic for magazines? Mr. Magazine gets the lowdown on the “Cheeriodical” (I’d rather get one of these than a flower arrangement).

Network before you network: four tips that make use of social media, from Ilise Benun of The Marketing Mix.

Three weeks to go until The Word on the Street in Toronto! On Sunday, Sept. 22, check out what’s going on at the Wordshop Marquee (workshops for writers), Nothing But the Truth Tent (literary non-fiction) and Toronto Star Tent, among others. Visit the site for dates and info for Kitchener, Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Halifax.




Words Around the Web

Sign with text "Zombies Ahead"I’m back to blogging. Let’s start the week with recent online resources for both editors and writers.

Here’s an easy editing tip—complete with zombies—to detect passive voice (via MediaBistro and USMC prof Rebecca Johnson, @johnsonr).

Unsent emails, unreturned phone calls…instead of repeatedly dropping the ball, should you say “no” more often? Fast Company offers seven steps to a cure.

If you cover science and health, sign up for news from the Science Media Centre of Canada, a non-profit organization that helps reporters understand current topics and find expert sources.

Pick up the phone! On The Renegade Writer blog, freelancer Suchi Rudra explains why writers should call (not email) their editors.

Great blog alert: “Notes From My Desk” by freelance journalist Mridu Khullar Relph. Recent topics include: how freelancers can better handle sick days; what she learned from hiring other writers; and how to choose blog topics.

Summer slowdown? Try my ideas for productive downtime.

Healing words for a community: how literary magazine Newtowner responded in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting.



Reading list: Career advice, Mr. Magazine’s new vids and more

In a videotaped interview for CBS, More Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Lesley Jane Seymour, offers career advice for aspiring editors: “If you’re young and you’re getting out of school, you must go digital, you must know how to code, you must start in the digital area. You can always go backwards into print.”

Mr. Magazine, a.k.a. Samir Husni, has a new series of short videos called “Mr. Magazine Minute.” Watch clips featuring American magazine luminaries such as Chris Johns, editor-in-chief of National Geographic; David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines; and Richard Stengel, managing editor of TIME Magazine.

The horror! In a bid to reduce confusion, officials in southwestern England’s Mid Devon District proposed that “All punctuation, including apostrophes, shall be avoided” on street signs. Find out who won here. Thanks to Corinna vanGerwen for alerting me.

Freelancers are often nervous about saying “no” when they’re offered work (what if the editor never calls again?). WordCount and Freelance Folder have good suggestions on how to decide, and how to offer value even when you can’t accept the gig.

Is it tax season already?! Self-employed people have until June 17, 2013, to file their income tax returns, says the CRA—but any money they owe is still due by April 30. Check out Story Board’s tax tips for freelancers, and consult a tax pro if you’re not sure what expenses you can deduct.


Reading list

Industry checkup: Magazines Canada has released its new Consumer Magazine Factbook and Digital Magazine Factbook.

September 24th was National Punctuation Day. Learn more about your favourite punctuation marks (what do you mean, you don’t have one!?).

LinkedIn, the networking super-site for staffers and freelancers alike, has launched an “Endorsements” feature, which lets members endorse their contacts’ skills and expertise. It’s not yet available in Canada (so far, only people in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and India can use it), but it’s coming in the next few weeks. Let the mutual admiration begin!

Freelancers, is your tiny home office just not doing it for you? A co-working space might be the answer. Check out a few via Story Board.

The Language Portal of Canada is going mobile. The website turns three in October, and it’s celebrating with the launch of on the go!, the Canadian government’s first mobile linguistic application (free; available for iPhone and BlackBerry in English and French).

Reading list

Freelance writers and editors, September is a great time to refresh your business. Here’s a handy to-do list from WordCount’s Michelle Rafter.

Laura Spencer covers “10 Marks of a Self-Disciplined Freelancer” for Freelance Folder. This is sound advice for writers at all career stages. Don’t learn #8 the hard way (like I did).

Some editors are actually giddy when the Chicago Manual of Style website adds content to its Q&A section. Browse the archives and sign up for free Q&A Alerts.

The sleuths at have a methodical approach to factchecking new words—read their two-part explanation. Also check out the “What’s new” page of Oxford Dictionaries Online. Those of you who copy edit fashion mags may be gratified to hear that “bandage dress,” “boy shorts,” “shootie,” “hobo bag” and “jeggings” are recent additions. Beauty editors, don’t feel left out—“mani-pedi” also made the cut. (Sign up for the newsletter to catch all the lexicographic action.)

Word geeks will enjoy the musings of John E. McIntyre, self-described “modern prescriptivist” and a Baltimore Sun editor. In his blog, You Don’t Say, he picks apart obscure words and offers candid advice, such as last week’s reminder to writers: “Your copy editor is going to read your text more closely and carefully than anyone else. And ‘anyone else’ includes your editor, your subject, and your mother.”

Reading list

Keyboard with hot keys for man and woman

On J-Source, Katie Toth looks at gender pronouns: is “they” replacing “he/she”? My reaction upon reading the headline was “I hope not” – but then I’d never considered this in the context of gender identity, which Toth thoughtfully does.

The International Freelancers Academy has tips for staffers thinking of going solo—or anyone who wants to build a backup plan. Writer Ed Gandia focuses on copywriting, but the advice applies to other freelance work.

Freelance Switch has “12 Important Questions to Ask as a Freelance Subcontractor” before you partner up with other creative types.

Copy editors weed out “echoes” – repetitions of words in the same sentence or paragraph, or even within a column, page or story if they really stick out (the exceptions are those that slide by unnoticed, such as “the” and “says”). Carol Saller reflects on the subject for Lingua Franca.

Save the date for one of my favourite events of the year: The Word on the Street National Book & Magazine Festival is on Sept. 23 in Toronto. There will be no Canadian Magazines tent this year, but lots of offerings for writers at the Wordshop Marquee tent, including a session about e-books. Visit the website for Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener and Halifax events.


Weekend reading

“Traditional magazine brands are too often missing the key point of the internet’s allure for their readers: immediacy.” Bonnie Fuller on why print mags aren’t attracting millennial women online, from Ad Age Media News.

“Editors don’t do rewrites for the heck of it” and six other myth-busters for freelancers, courtesy of Word Count’s Michelle Rafter.

Thinking of adding Pinterest to your magazine’s social media mix? Good timing – as of this week, the site is ditching invitations and wait lists, reports Folio.

Oooohh, The New Yorker has a new iPhone app.

Do you abide by the Typographic Oath? “Do no harm” and six other commandments for copy editors, brought to you by

Eye candy for magazine junkies: Mr. Magazine’s Launch Monitor.

Weekend reading

Blank white speech bubblesConferences and awards events are coming up at the end of May and in early June (including the EAC conference, MagNet, the NMAs, the KRWs, the CSME awards and the PWAC AGM and awards). I like Michelle Rafter’s advice about getting the most out of writers’ conferences (and other events).

We’re in the age of e-everything, but I still find business cards useful, especially at events. Instead of using a template, I asked a graphic designer friend for help, and as a result I often get compliments on my card — it’s printed on good-quality stock, my services are listed on the back, and the copy is oriented vertically, which is instantly eye-catching. Cards are just a small investment and are worth designing well. Here’s a helpful post from Freelance Switch on what NOT to do.

When I worked on staff, I freelanced on the side. These gigs brought in extra money, which was great, but there was another benefit: having a network of contacts and clients made the transition to full-time freelancing easier (and it was a life-saver when I unexpectedly found myself unemployed at one point). Should you moonlight as a freelancer? Check out Freelance Folder’s article on the rewards and challenges.

The Editors’ Association of Canada has announced the date for its next two certification tests: Nov. 17, 2012, for Proofreading and Structural Editing. Details at the EAC website.

Freelancer Karen Briggs (whom I met at a recent PWAC seminar) shares her thoughts on hackneyed writing advice, including “constructive lifestyle suggestions.”

And in case you missed it: Shawn Achor’s hilarious TED Talk on “The happy secret to better work.” It’s a great video to wind up the week.

Weekend reading

French toastWhat goes better with this weekend’s French toast and fresh-squeezed OJ than a round-up of compelling links? Nothing, I say!

A collection of stunning infographics, courtesy of the great people at GOOD.

So long to the print edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica. After two centuries of filling bookcases, it will be available only online. My parents bought my sister and me the junior version shown in this Telegraph article about the books’ demise. Ever useful, the set is now holding up my parents’ shoe shelves.

Freelancers, when a client gives you a compliment, are you milking it for all it’s worth? Find out how, courtesy of The Renegade Writer.

Susan Cain, author of New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking, recently did a TED talk on how we undervalue introverts (and overvalue group work). As an introvert myself, I urge you to watch…and unpack your own “suitcase.”

A graphic designer friend told me about, a handy website for sending large files — no fees or sign-up required, just the recipient’s email address. We’ve been using it during magazine production this month, whenever sources need to send multiple large image files.

Weekend reading

Before you dismiss an idea, give it five minutes, says this post from 37signals.

Freelance editor Bonnie Zink explains the intricacies of copy editing in a handy fact sheet.

Think before you Pinterest, says this post from ReadWriteWeb (via

National Grammar Day is March 4 – ready to party?

I heart MagNet. Details for this year’s conference are online. Are you attending?