Trade Magazine Editor

Crystal, 24, has a degree in English from the University of Manitoba and a diploma in journalism from Red River College. Currently, she is the editor of two national trade publications. She has worked in various roles in the television, film and magazine industries. Based in Winnipeg, she is currently working on The Spark, a full-length screenplay, and her untitled first novel. She dreams of the day when she can live off her royalties.

Stephanie: What made you decide to become a trade magazine editor? How did you become a trade magazine editor?
I studied English in university because I love words. Then, after realizing that an English degree doesn't actually qualify you for much other than teaching, I took a two-year college communications program majoring in journalism. This job came about rather unexpectedly, as I was being laid off from my previous job and offered this one soon after. I actually hadn't intended to go the trade magazine route, but I find my job very challenging and interesting. I still harbour the fantasy that I'll become a TV sitcom writer or novelist, but this is a good way to pay the bills in the meantime, and I do get to write and edit other writers' work, which I enjoy.

Stephanie: What does a trade magazine editor do?
They're responsible for the editorial side of a magazine. Choosing stories, assigning them to writers, copy editing, writing the magazine's "departments" (non-feature copy). I work in conjunction with designers and sales people, but I basically oversee the magazine.

Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
That I get to write and "play with words". I also do a lot of research on different subjects, which is very interesting. Plus, the job has lots of different duties, so I'm always busy and doing new things.

Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
Trade magazines can be very dry and boring as they're targeted toward a certain group. One of my magazines focuses on travel, which I find very interesting, but some of the other magazines in our company deal with business (yawn!) and meat processing (I don't eat meat!) Trying to find interest in the subject matter can be hard sometimes.

Also, in magazine publishing, there can sometimes be a rift between the production team and the sales staff. The editorial department is concerned with content and quality, while the sales team is often only concerned with the bottom line.

Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a trade magazine editor?
You need to be fairly strong at all aspect of writing - spelling, grammar, etc. But be warned - you don't necessarily DO a lot of writing in this job. You also need to be fairly creative, and able to come up with good story ideas.

For someone interested in becoming a writer or editor, it's very important to note that in addition to a good education, you need to have a solid portfolio - samples of your writing to bring along to job interviews.

Stephanie: What kind of an education do you need to be a trade magazine editor? What kind of education did you get?
I have both a degree in English from the University of Manitoba, and a two-year college diploma in journalism from Red River College. While I enjoyed university very much, I really think for this type of work that college is the way to go. They provide you with specific job training, work placements and networking that will get you a job better than a university degree can.

Stephanie: What is your favourite magazine, and why?
I like Entertainment Weekly, because of its sharp writing. I also like reading Canadian magazines, such as Style at Home and Chatelaine. I often flip to the credits page of Canadian publications to learn who's who in magazine writing and to find out about possible freelancing opportunities.

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