Substantive, Stylistic and Copy Editing 

Scholarly and Literary Roots

My first projects were substantive and stylistic editing for scholars, often adapting their theses into first books. At the same time, I was editing for the literary journal Descant, working closely with brand new authors as well as some of Canada's elite writers. As new authors found publishers, I was picked up by these, many of which were university presses. 

In scholarly publishing the final copy edit in the publication process is often very basic: grammar, spelling, punctuation and consistency of style and documentation. By this time, the book has gone through peer reviews and revisions. Neither the publisher nor the author is looking for major changes. But there will inevitably be sentences and paragraphs that have lost their meaning, so I read carefully. The result is a more focused argument, made with clarity and grace.

Literary Non-Fiction and Memoir

Now, my favourite projects tend to be working with experienced authors writing outside their usual genre or language or new authors writing about something important in their lives. On some projects, all that is required of me is an outline for a revised structure. On others, working closely with the author, and sometimes a publisher, I implement major structural and editorial revisions. These projects can range over weeks, months or years.

In 2021, I was shortlisted for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence, honouring the work I did with Julie Macfarlane on her powerful book, Going Public: A Survivor's Journey from Grief to Action.


Over the ten years, I worked with Descant magazine, where we published fiction, poetry, essays and visual art, I developed an already nascent love of poetry. Since then I have enjoyed the privilege of working with a few poets. 

I make special mention of Karen Mulhallen, poet and editor-in-chief of Descant.

Mary Newberry worked as both an early consultant and, later, my copy editor ... Her attention to detail and her ability to decipher and clarify many threads of argument at once are rare gifts.
— Jennifer Nelson, Razing Africville: A Geography of Racism (University of Toronto Press 2008)

Sample Projects

For PDF of complete CV click here