Copy Editing, Writing, and Short Story Mentoring

My love of literature extends beyond reading, reviewing, and writing stories. I’m also a full-time freelance copy editor, proofreader, and writer. Since 2003, I’ve worked with many clients on academic non-fiction, PhDs, journal articles, ad-copy, short stories, novels (including translated fiction), and non-fiction. I’ve also written discussion questions for readers’ guides. In addition, I’ve attended the Editors’ Association of Canada seminars Usage Woes and Myths and Substantive Editing: The Big Picture.

Clients include Kobo Inc., Arabella Magazine: Canadian Art, Architecture and Design, Thomas Allen Publishers, ECW Press, House of Anansi Press, the University of Ottawa Press, the University of BC Press, the Canadian Journal of Development Studies, the International Journal of Canadian Studies, Loyalist College, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, authors, and small businesses and organizations. I also review books for the Quill & Quire and am available for hire for other review venues.


I also offer short story mentoring. For more on this one-on-one service, please visit my site


  • I work as a full-time freelancer. If you’d like an estimate for work, please contact me using the contact page on, or email me at steph.vandermeulen[at]gmail[dot]com.


“I worked with Steph VanderMeulen on my Reader’s Group questions for the US edition of my story collection. I knew Steph was a smart and thoughtful reader, but I was thrilled to find out she was such a gifted editor! She’s fast, focused and clear, and she has the laser-like perspective of a golden eagle.”

Sarah Selecky, Author of Giller finalist This Cake is for the Party


“Steph has been freelancing for us for several years, as a proofreader and a copy editor. She’s conscientious, very capable and always professional, as good with the mechanics of editing (which can be quite specialized with scholarly books) as she is working with the text. She is not one of those editors who think they know better than the author – on the contrary, she is respectful of them. She takes pains not to alter their voice and phrases her queries in a sensitive way. She also takes instruction well, adjusting her level of intervention depending on what I tell her about the author and/or the project.”

Ann Macklem, Production Editor, UBC Press


“Working with Steph is a pleasure. She’s thoughtful, timely, responsive, and thorough. It’s no wonder Steph quickly became one of ECW’s go-to freelance editors, and our authors are always grateful for her insight and great catches.”

Crissy Boylan, Managing Editor, ECW Press


“I have not only had the pleasure of working directly with Steph when she was a bookseller under my care, but I have also been privileged to watch her grow and expand the role that I helped teach her into something far more powerful than I ever imagined and with a style and flair that is truly her own.

Her intense passion for books, her dedication to excellence, the care she takes in serving the customer’s needs and her sincerity and integrity mark her as a leader and an inspiration to her colleagues from across our industry. I have fallen under the magical spell of her bookselling charm and have caught myself wanting to purchase a book I already owned after engaging with her in a conversation about it.

Steph is a tireless advocate for books, bookselling, authors and publishers and I have no doubt that I am going to continue to watch her shine and prosper in each new role she embraces.”

Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Kobo Inc, Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations; Author


“Steph is an enthusiastic and hardworking supporter of Canadian authors and publishers. Her blog ( is full of honest, thoughtful reviews and articles about topics that are relevant to current affairs in publishing. These qualities made Steph the ideal writer for the discussion guide for Half-Blood Blues— Steph took it upon herself to create additional content for the guide and supplied us with a comprehensive playlist of Jazz music as recommended listening. Contributing to publishing in a variety of capacities—reviewer, bookseller, and freelance editor and copywriter—Steph is an asset to the industry.”

Heather Goldberg, Thomas Allen Publishers


“I think these questions look excellent! I like the new open-endedness to them, the expansiveness—I think it should foster some interesting discussions. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness with this, and for being so generous with your time.”

Esi Edugyan, Author of Half-Blood Blues


“I thank you for your professionalism and intelligence.  Good work and many thanks! Hope to work with you again. ”

Patrick Crean, Publisher and Editor


“Steph is a tireless promoter of Canadian authors and Canadian Literature. She has a big online presence through her blog and through Twitter, and she’s always a thoughtful and timely contributor to the Canadian literary conversation. I’m a big fan.”

Trevor Cole, Stephen Leacock Award-winning author


“Steph has an excellent eye for language and a wonderful sense of exactly what needs doing in order to tighten a sentence. Her comments and suggestions have been invaluable to me as a writer, and I’ve no doubt that my work is much tighter and indeed much better as a result. Most importantly for me, however, has been her unflagging enthusiasm and encouragement. It’s a rare thing to find a copy-editor who’s also happy to become your champion and moral support! I know that Steph has extended this generosity to many other writers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that others feel the same way about her. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

Amanda Leduc, Author (ECW Press)


“I was writing my PhD dissertation and getting overwhelmed with editing problems that concerned my advisor. A friend recommended Steph as a resource. Steph stepped in and reviewed every detail of my manuscript from punctuation to footnotes, titles to block quotes.  We worked together on getting the manuscript ready.  When my advisor approved my thesis to go to committee, I was ecstatic. Steph was a key component of my success. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

Andy Hanson, PhD candidate at time of writing, Trent U, Canadian Studies


Steph naturally strikes the perfect balance as an editor. She encouraged when needed. I felt like she was my biggest cheerleader. And where there were problems with my manuscript she confidently, but kindly pointed them out. She did so mostly by asking questions, rather than telling what she thought the solution was. This allowed me to consider things from a new angle. Her objective opinion and expertise has allowed me to continue working on a final draft of my novel. I would not have known if I was on the right or wrong path (or any path at all!) without her help.

—Maryann, author



Bill Atkinson, Author (ECW Press)


“Thanks so much for your very quick turn around and your attention to every detail…[and for] your thoroughness and high standards.”

Bonnie Goldstein and Jackie Shulman of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto


“I’ve had the utmost pleasure in working with Steph several times. I hired her to edit and proofread several stories of mine and her work was excellent. She took great pride and pleasure in helping me and I highly recommend her!”

Katie Fleming, Award-winning Tomb Raider Author


“Steph, congratulations! You’re one of the top 1% most endorsed in Canada for Copy Editing. LinkedIn now has 200 million members. Thanks for playing a unique part in our community!”



    1. Oh, but I have to respond. If you are Daniel Woodrell: Jesus Christ! At the risk of sounding all fan-girl, you are my very favourite author. I cannot tell you how often I’ve read The Outlaw Album, how many times I sold it as a bookseller (I work full time as a freelance editor and writing coach now) and have recommended it to others. I have an entire large bookcase of short story collections, and TOA is my favourite. It’s my go-to when I need to get into the story state of mind.

      I’ve reviewed both Tomato Red and The Outlaw Album on this site, and also read The Maid’s Version and Winter’s Bone, both of which I enjoyed, like the others, on a level that seems cheapened by words (and god, the WB movie: excellent as well, yes?). I own all of your books and am reading them for influence for my own writing. I wish I could adequately express just how much I appreciate your skill, your way with words, the dialogue, your stories. Please write forever. (Your books have led me to other writers you’ve recommended, too.)

      If you care to read them, my reviews here are, and here:

      Thank you so much for sending along this link to your story! A bonus track! Yeah! I’m not ashamed to tell you that my pulse is erratic right now, anticipating it. I’m off to read it and then plaster it all over twitter and facebook. I eagerly await more. Please, feel free to email me any time at steph.vandermeulen[at]gmail[dot]com.


        1. Oh god, yes. Thank you! It was a treat to get to read a new story, and it was so engrossing that when I finished I felt weird about closing it out. I actually couldn’t close the page. I left your story open on my laptop for three days.

          I hope this one ends up in print in another collection. The idea of your stories scattered around the Internet rather than in one place, on my shelves, freaks me out. Anyway, I bookmarked JS, so I can go back to it whenever I want. I wish I could tell you how good it is, but how does one do that, exactly? It’s all in the way you put words together, make people talk, shine a flashlight on the underbelly of things, like when you lift a rock and see all the creatures scurry. The setting, the stuff that happens, just all of it; of course you won’t think it’s perfect, but that’s how it reads to me. I know you’ve read stuff that is just right, so you know what I’m talking about, that feeling.

          Thank you. Please keep sharing your stuff. You would not be imposing if you emailed me anything. steph.vandermeulen[at]gmail[dot]com
          Write on,

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