A minimalist map of BC shows that 62% of Editors BC members live in the Lower Mainland, 20% live in Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, 11% live in the Okanagan and the Kootenays, 3% live in the Sunshine Coast, 2.5% live in Northern BC and Yukon, and .8% live in the West Coast of the U.S.

Getting to Know Our Members from All Around BC: Merielle Kazakoff

Written by Ana Scherders; copy edited by Annette Gingrich

Editors BC is a big chapter: in fact, we currently have 252 members.

In this series, our volunteer writers interview some of these members to find out what editing life looks like in this spacious province.

Today, Ana interviews Merielle Kazakoff.

Merielle lives in the Christina Lake area of the West Kootenay region, about 70 kilometres southwest of Castlegar, BC. She’s the owner of MMK Editing and Design and has been a member of Editors BC since 2018.

Hello Merielle! To start off, could you tell us what led you to a career in editing?

My working life started as a newspaper reporter, eventually moving into desktop publishing and marketing for different industries, so I’ve always been involved in polishing up writing to some degree. A few years back I was asked to edit a novel, which led into doing the layout and cover design as well. I loved the whole process of publishing a book and decided to look into training, specifically in editing. I went ahead and completed the Editing Certificate through SFU.

What type of editing are you involved in?

I quickly found myself gravitating towards book editing, from developmental to copy editing, and that’s been my primary focus and goal. I mostly work with new and self-publishing authors, both as my own clients and clients of a publishing company I freelance for. I work in all genres of fiction and non-fiction.

In addition to editing, you offer publication design and photography services. How do these areas complement one another? Do they often overlap when working with a client?

Having those extra skill sets has come in handy, though I’m more willing to simply consult on design these days. It’s pretty time intensive to do layout and there are designers out there specifically for that.

Understanding how a book is published, whether in print or electronically, is helpful to clients. Many writers don’t know what to do after they’ve written their manuscript, and the process doesn’t stop at editing. Photography is a passion, so I’m always happy to take an author photo or even a cover photo if a client wants to collaborate.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

Deciding to work freelance comes with a lot of extra stress, especially when starting out. I didn’t want to work in-house or nine-to-five anymore, so I had to go through a slow couple of years building experience and getting my name out there. The good thing is most writers don’t care about your background as long as you can help them with their spelling and grammar and give them some encouragement!

Another challenge was finding networking and learning opportunities as I live a fair distance from major city centres. Legit online work is hard to find too, especially work that pays fairly.

Frankly, the pandemic changed the landscape a lot and forced us to function remotely, for the better. Now most groups are meeting online, courses and learning opportunities have moved online, and employers seem to be open to offering remote work. Where you live doesn’t matter as much. I’m not sure if it’s finally time and hard work paying off, the pandemic, or a combination of both, but I’ve found myself busier than ever and coming across a lot of great opportunities to expand my career.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Everything! Each story and project is different with a different set of challenges, and I’m always learning because of that. The variety keeps it interesting. I also love seeing someone’s dream of publishing a book come to fruition, especially for the first time.

Many thanks to Merielle for doing this interview!

Ana Scherders is an independent editor living in Victoria, BC. She holds an Honours BA in English and Theatre & Film from McMaster University, and is presently pursuing her Editing Certificate from SFU. She started her editing business, Prism Editing, in 2019 and absolutely loves the work she does for her clients. Aside from looking at words, Ana likes to play with her three-year-old son, walk in the forest, and sing.

Annette Gingrich is a Vancouver-based editor, and chair of the Editors Canada student relations committee. Hailing from Ontario, she fell in love with the terminal city while on tour with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

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