Copy Editing, Proofreading, Writing, and Transcription

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 have included Kobo Inc., Scribendi.com, 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 transcribe recordings, correcting, as necessary, any grammatical or syntactical errors, and leaving out any non-essential utterances (e.g., uh, um). I can transcribe from various digital files, but am also familiar and experienced with the traditional form of dictatyping, using tapes.

Because I’m often asked the difference:

Proofreading: Proofreading is typically done on page proofs, once a document has been typeset, or on a .pdf. I do a line-by-line read-through and ensure that corrections were made for grammar, spelling, punctuation, inconsistency, and other errors, as well as check for formatting issues.

Copy editing: Here I’m looking at the mechanics of style. I want to maintain your voice but ensure your writing is polished and effective. I look at syntax and word choice, tautness of text, paragraph structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation, consistency, and cross-referencing for accuracy. This is done to the Word file of your manuscript, with comments, and using the Track Changes feature if preferred.

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

What people have said

“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“Steph is an enthusiastic and hardworking supporter of Canadian authors and publishers. Her blog (www.bellasbookshelves.com) 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—http://bit.ly/HBBguide. 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

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“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

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

Patrick Crean, Publisher and Editor

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“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

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“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)

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“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

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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

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“STEPH, YOU TAKE MY BREATH AWAY, AND I DON’T MEAN THAT SARCASTICALLY. GOD SEES THE LITTLE SPARROW FALL, BUT YOU KNOW THE FORMULA OF THE SYNTHETIC ORGANOCHLORINE THAT KILLED IT.”

Bill Atkinson, Author (ECW Press)

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“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

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“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

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“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!”

LinkedIn