Written by Ana Scherders; copy edited by Annette Gingrich
Editors BC is a big chapter: in fact, we currently have 259 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 Heather van der Hoop.
Heather has been editing professionally for over six years. She lives with her partner in Kimberley, BC, where she works as a freelance editor in several specialized areas. Currently enrolled in SFU’s Editing Certificate program, she is a student affiliate of Editors Canada.
Hello, Heather! How would you describe your work as an editor? And what brought you to this career?
I joke that I’ve been editing my last name for as long as I can remember. As a book-loving kid, I was always the go-to second set of eyes on things like the family Christmas letter, and in university, I proofread my rugby teammates’ senior theses and resumes before I really understood that editing was a career. Based on volunteer experience, I was lucky enough to connect with a mentor who hired me to edit blog posts as part of her small communications agency. We actually had our first Skype call while I was backpacking around Southeast Asia, trying to stay connected to a cafe’s shaky Wi-Fi, and navigating a 12-hour time difference! I’m so thankful she was willing to take the chance and offer feedback, and we’ve worked together on and off since 2013—even though we’ve never actually lived in the same place.
My work is varied, and I love it. A lot of my projects are scientific and academic: I edit grants for researchers applying to National Institutes of Health funding opportunities, policy papers for NGOs, and books for health and wellness professionals. Many of my other projects rely on my background in editing personal finance, and I enjoy helping ensure that such important advice is clear and accessible to all readers. The common thread through most of my work is that it promises to help people, whether through service journalism or education or accessing funding to explore potential clinical treatments.
How has your career as an editor evolved? Or deviated from your initial plans or expectations?
I’d say it has definitely been an evolution. My first gig was editing posts for a careers blog aimed at recent grads, and soon I was helping my mentor launch a website that helps writers earn from their work. A little while later, she asked whether I had the bandwidth to edit another blog as well, and we took on a new client: a personal finance site called The Penny Hoarder. The Penny Hoarder eventually hired both of us in-house, and I helped build and lead a team of writers and editors there for about a year and a half.
When I moved home to Vancouver, I combined my love of editing and the outdoors by taking a role as a copy editor at MEC, where I worked with a fantastic creative team and got to think about adventures every day (and edited academic manuscripts at night).
My partner and I had always dreamed of living in the mountains, and so in 2018 when we moved to Kimberley, BC (80 ski runs, 180 trails, and 1 traffic light), I embraced full-time self-employment again. I have always enjoyed the variety of working with individual clients in different industries, and while I originally expected that I would need to “niche down” to succeed, I’m grateful to be able to switch between several specialties.
What program are you currently enrolled in?
I’m working my way through SFU’s Editing Certificate program, which has been a fantastic way to fine-tune some of my editing skills and explore new ones, like creating plain language.
I see you’re a student affiliate of Editors Canada. What have you found most valuable about your association?
In normal times, I enjoy the camaraderie of gathering with fellow editors at meetings and learning from one another. I also enjoy the webinars, and I’m looking forward to the conference this year. Finally, the online access to Chicago Manual of Style is fantastic—it’s definitely my most-used perk!
Many thanks to Heather 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 four-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. She specializes in short fiction, children’s books, and healthcare editing.