Editor Profile: Chantel Simmons of The Kit
Editor Profile: Chantel Simmons
WHO: Chantel Simmons, hair editor, The Kit.
OTHER JOBS INCLUDE: Instructor (magazine writing, editing, online magazines), post-grad Book and Magazine Publishing Program, Centennial College; beauty expert, The Marilyn Denis Show; freelance writer ("I mostly focus on beauty, relationships, travel and home decor") for Elle Canada, HGTV, Food Network and a few other mags; author of two bestselling novels.
WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Journalism, Ryerson
FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Editorial Assistant, Elle Canada
SUBSCRIBES TO: "I'm a newsstand shopper because I'm too impatient to wait for [magazines] to come in the mail. Here's what I bought this month: Elle Canada, Fashion, Toronto Life, Style at Home, Canadian House & Home, Elle Decor, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, Seventeen and US Weekly. Online, I read Lonny, Apartment Therapy, Sweetspot.ca, The New Yorker.
BEST PART OF NOT WORKING IN AN OFFICE: "Sitting in the sun with my laptop."
WORST PART OF NOT WORKING IN AN OFFICE: "Having no one at my water cooler to discuss last night's episode of trashy TV/new restaurant/Justin Bieber with."
ADDICTION: "Manicures. There are weeks when I have to decline an event invite and say to myself, maybe I don't need a third manicure this week."
SO CHANTEL, TELL US...
WHAT MAKES A GOOD EDITOR?
A good editor is someone who knows how to both manage and mentor her writers. It's not just about fixing the mistakes in an article, it's about helping a writer understand why and how the article could be improved, so that the next time she writes an article, she can take those tips and apply them. A good editor grooms her writers so that they barely need editing. (But a good editor should also know how to spell.)
FAVOURITE PART OF BEING AN EDITOR?
Reading a story about a topic I know little about and learning so much.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EDITORS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS?
1. Leave your ego at home. A good editor knows that it's not all about her. For the most part, you give up the byline and recognition being an editor and hand it over to the writer. And you should want to. Your writer's work should shine because of your help behind the scenes.
2. Say yes. You might think you're spreading yourself too thin to take on a freelance copyediting job or work a booth at some event, but I think the more things you can say yes to, the more experiences you'll get, the more contacts you'll make, and the more opportunities you'll be offered because you're so well rounded. Plus, if you get laid off at your main source of income (if you have a steady gig), you'll have backup sources of income – and people to call on to let them know you're looking for more work. And no stress.
3. Change with the times. I have a Kindle and a Kobo and people are always scolding me, because I'm an author, telling me that I should boycott technology and support paper books exclusively. But here's a question: How many new bands have you discovered because you were able to try one song on iTunes rather than committing to a full album you weren't sure you'd like? I'm already spending more money on books than I ever did buying them in paper because it's so convenient. And because of digital, I'm now a subscriber to the New Yorker without even realizing it. [See below.] You can change with the times, or they can change without you. Your choice.
MOST MEMORABLE EDITING MOMENT?
When I left Elevate after being the editor in chief for five years, I couldn't believe the number of thoughtful cards and gifts I received from my freelance writers, saying how nice it was to work with me. I was so touched. I hope it was true!
WHAT MAGAZINE OR WEBSITE DO YOU THINK IS DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB RIGHT NOW?
I'm addicted to XO Jane (Jane Pratt launched it in May 2011). I've loved Jane Pratt since her Sassy days, so to see her back in action is a great way to waste time during the day. And that's always the sign of a good magazine.
I also think the New Yorker is brilliant in their e-blasts. For the most part, I'm pretty exhausted by e-newsletters. But every time I get one from the New Yorker, there's always a story I want to read. Click the link, enter your email address, and you get charged for the article, but you get to read the rest of the issue for free. I think I end up buying every issue this way – which makes me wonder why I don't just get a subscription, but then I think it's a lot of money/I don't have time to read another mag. But I bet they're doing really well because I can't be the only one who actually, unknowingly, does have a subscription to the New Yorker because of their great articles, and great marketing of them.
The Kit website: Thekit.ca
- Corinna vanGerwen
About MeCorinna vanGerwen
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.
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