WHO: Penny Caldwell, editor, Cottage Life; director of content development, Quarto Communications
ALSO TEACHES: Magazine and Web Editing, Magazine and Web Publishing certificate program, Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education
WENT TO SCHOOL AT: The University of Toronto, where she received her Bachelor of Arts
FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Assistant editor, Canadian Yachting
AWARDS: Named Editor of the Year by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, 2006 and 2010. Has steered Cottage Life magazine to numerous national and international awards.
Magazines Canada task force that developed advertising-editorial guidelines adopted nationally by the magazine industry in 2007. Has sat on the Curriculum Development Committees of both Magazines University and MagNet. Frequent guest speaker at magazine publishing and community events. Member of the board of directors and chair of the judging committee for the International Regional Magazine Association, based in Vermont. Past director and former chair of the judging committee of the National Magazine Awards Foundation in Canada. Past judge for the Western Magazine Awards and the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOU, PENNY?
When not at Cottage Life, I enjoy off-grid cottage life with my husband and two daughters on an island in Georgian Bay.
SO PENNY, TELL US...
WHAT MAKES A GOOD EDITOR?
Editors will be faced with content decisions every day, and pressure from a number of different directions, including the advertising community. The bottom line, though, is to create content that will bring readers back to the magazine (and any other media platforms you're developing) over and over again. With every decision, ask yourself "What's in it for the reader?" We call this the "so what?" factor. Good editors create a package that is relevant, timely and indispensable to the audience.
FAVOURITE PART OF BEING AN EDITOR?
Working with writers, especially the many talented professional writers who park their egos at the door and work with our editors to create wonderful stories for our audience.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EDITORS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS?
Be prepared to start at the bottom and do anything. If you start at a small publication, you'll have more chances to do more different things. My first job in publishing was as a sports reporter at a community newspaper. Though I was very green, I got to write a weekly column, shot and developed black and white photos, designed layouts, wrote general features in addition to sports news, and covered a murder! Never say, "This isn't my job." Be prepared to learn new skills: blogging, social networking, editing for different platforms, even shooting video.
WHAT MAGAZINE DO YOU THINK IS DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB RIGHT NOW?
Outdoor Canada, and not just because our magazines are stablemates at the Quarto ranch. Despite relatively small editorial page counts and a very small editorial staff, this little publication delivers a remarkable variety of well-written and engrossing stories and useful service pieces in every issue.
WHERE TO FIND PENNY ONLINE:
Cottage Life website: Cottagelife.com
Blog: Penny's Blog
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.