Three Decades of Editing

                                  Member of

Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island

Thereís nothing like messing about with words.

And messing about with othersí words on boats helped me sail into the writing profession from a very practical perspective. I asked endless clarification questions for my first assignment,   a boatbuilding manual for both beginners and professionals. Clearing up my complete ignorance of the topic, while applying my natural excellence in grammar, helped turn an eminently useful, sensible, how-to-do-it collection of information into a bestseller.

This first editing job was in 1970. The book was called Practical Ferro-Cement Boatbuilding, by Jay R. Benford & Herman Husen. Critics raved about this first truly practical, professional and thorough approach to a previously unpopular method of boatbuilding. International Marine Publishing Company took the 216-page manual through 3 editions. Criticsí comments proclaimed: ďThis is unquestionably one of the best manuals to appear...a real advance.Ē (National Fisherman)Ö. ďThe whole book is worth the price of admission...itís essential.Ē (Boating magazine)Ö ď.The definitive work on the subject.Ē (NoríWesting magazine).

For the next three years, I edited my partnerís prolific articles on yacht design, read many more, studied his favourite yacht design and boating books, went with him to boatbuilding sites across the U.S.A. and Canada, attended boat launchings, met other yacht designers and many of the boating magazine editors and publishers, helped him organize and run creative boatshow displays, and lived aboard a 50í yacht cruising along the northwestern Washington State and B.C. coast. Finally, I felt Iíd learned enough to be able to write some of my own yachting articles. For the next ten years, we wrote and edited each otherís articles, as well as co-authored booklets, books on yacht design, brochures and ads for clients. For one of those years, I was the editor and chief writer for an in-house journal called Boatbuilding & Design Forum.

When I returned to Canada with a young son, my editing work steered itself towards the nearby University of Victoria studentsí essays. I also tutored high school students in English in the mid-1980ís, helping them with their essays. In 1991-2, I studied for a Diploma in Applied Linguistics, including the most Advanced Grammar courses offered at UVic. Subsequently, teaching English-As-A-Second Language students forced me to explain all aspects of English, thus constantly honing my editing skills, both orally and in writing.

I have worked on a broad variety of editing, including resumes, a Masterís Thesis in Environmental Design, another on Sustainable Agriculture, books and articles on Peace Education, websites, brochures, posters and editing work for a variety of non-profit associations. I would enjoy hearing about your projects which could use my curious, objective and grammatically skilled eye.

Oscar absorbs the heat of the moment, while Robin takes distancing time for contemplation between edits
What Do Clients Say About Robin's Editing Services?

"I was overwhelmed with your wonderful professionalism.... You are doing a wonderful job of making the book flow and read well.... It is amazing how you can craft the book.... You are naturally a great writer, as one can see when you are editing, for it is obvious that you love it with the heart of an artist.... Many thanks for your intelligent replies to my e-mails when I am talking out loud.... Your editing is excellent; you're light years ahead of anything I've experienced. I'm learning a lot from you.... I've never seen anything so precise, so clear, so organized, so logical in my blows me out of the water. Everything I've read through is letter-perfect. It's quite something. I'm just quite stunned." Dr. Terrence Webster-Doyle, California, U.S.A. (Taken from Dr. Webster-Doyle's emails and phone notes regarding my editing of the book, Brave New Child, by Liberian author, Marvin Davis, whom the Webster-Doyles sponsored through their Atrium Society's Youth Peace Literacy.) For more on Brave New Child and on Dr. Terrence & Jean Webster-Doyle's Youth Peace Literacy website, see

"You know, I thought I had written that article really well, and I didnít think youíd need to do any editing. So when I opened it up and saw all the Track Changes, I said 'Oh my god.' But then when I looked at each one, I thought, ĎYes. Thatís right. Yes, thatís right. Youíre right on.' I donít know how you do it. I called Jean over and told her to look at it. And she [gasped], and then she agreed, too. Your work is amazing. Iím so impressed. I donít know how you do it.Ē (From phone notes of a conversation with Dr. Terrence Webster-Doyle, USA, regarding my editing of one of his articles.)

My fear of applying for employment was alleviated through the services of Robin Roberts. With Robinís editing assistance, I provided a dynamic and powerful resume. This resume opened doors and was also instrumental in obtaining my present job.  

As I work for a not-for-profit organization, we are required to both look for and write funding proposals. With Robinís assistance with editing, we have received all the grants applied for.

Needless to say, I highly recommend the services that Robin Roberts provides.                                           

Braude, Victoria, B.C.

Working with Robin to edit my Masterís thesis was an extremely positive experience. Not only was I able to submit a high-quality final product, but I learned a great deal as well.

To begin, Robin and I met to discuss the type of editing I needed and my timeline for completion. Using Adobe Acrobat Professional (Version 7) Robin addressed spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and offered suggestions to correct or rearrange sentences for greater clarity. In addition to correcting these mistakes, Robin explained grammatical rules and then provided links to websites that thoroughly explained specific rules. This ensured that she did not have to repeat explanations if mistakes occurred again and also helped to teach me the correct usage, which will serve me in my future writings.

Throughout the two weeks, Robin kept in touch with me by email and telephone. This was effective for both of us, as we were able to identify and correct any confusion early in the process, and prevent recurring confusion in later chapters.

Robinís positive, encouraging and professional approach to editing my thesis made the final stage of this stressful time valuable and enjoyable. Thanks, Robin!

 Kate Lambert, Masters of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Alberta


Please plan a generous amount of time in your schedule for the editing process. Editing a piece well involves:

  • reading
  • assessing
  • editing
  • distancing time for contemplation
  • re-reading with a fresh eye
  • re-editing and
  • proof-reading.
To do a good editing job, we need:
  • time upfront communicating your goals and concerns,
  • time along the way communicating the pros and cons of contemplated changes,
  • time asking questions throughout, to make sure your intent and overall style are best honoured, and
  • time at the end for you to re-read and communicate any final questions or concerns.
I have caught myself more than once jamming in an overnight editing job to meet the excruciating deadlines of a frantic writer, only later to wish I hadn't: it served neither of us well. If you're reading this now while facing a deadline, see if you can get that time crunch extended. Everybody wins in the end.


Rates: Editors commonly have a variety of ways to charge for their services: by the hour, the word, the entire project. Much depends on the complexity of the individual job. Please contact me for a quote:



I'll help your writing blossom.

Portrait at top of this page by Joanne Terry