Interview with Editor Laura Brestovansky

1. You have more than 20 years of writing and editing experience and have also produced newsletters, brochures, articles, press releases and other materials for a variety of clients. What's the most important thing you've learnt over the years?

The most important thing I’ve learned over the years is to be flexible and open to learning something new. All writing is not the same and each type has a particular purpose. What works for one client will not necessarily work for another. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you understand what the client wants.

2. You have edited several books, including novels and biographies. What are the most common mistakes writers make?

I think the most common mistake writers make is not taking enough time and care to proofread. I include myself in that assessment – I have made some real boneheaded mistakes in my time and will continue to do so. For that reason, I know that I must set aside a piece I’m working on at least overnight so I can edit it when I’m fresh. I also make sure I have someone else read it too, whether a professional editor, my husband or even one of my high-school-age children.

My own mistakes have taught me humility and empathy. So, when I go through someone else’s work, while I may get a good chuckle out of a mistake, I try to be kind in pointing it out because I know I will do something dumb next time. Editors and proofreaders exist to make sure the copy is as good as it can be. We are not ogres out to ruin anyone’s fun.

3. What advice would you give to people who want to get into editing?

Get your name out there, wherever and however you can. I was fortunate in working for local newspapers as a writer and proofreader, where I met many of my editing clients. I also placed classified ads and got some good responses that way. Get a website and a blog and keep them active. Join writers’ groups, both online and in person. The more you get your name out there, the better the chance that work will come your way.

For editing practice, take some time to go through some publications and consider what you would do to make them better. If you like fiction, find a book that you thought was really bad and mark it up with what changes you would make. It’s fun and it keeps your skills sharp.

Lastly, it really helps to read a lot and be a trivia junkie. While editors do check for grammar and typos etc., I think more people would actually notice a factual mistake than a grammatical one. I’ve always been a trivia nut – my fantasy is that I take Ken Jennings’ place at all-time Jeopardy! champion J. Reading a lot has helped me catch a lot of errors in my clients work.

4. What would you say has been the finest moment of your career so far? why?

Wow! That really is a tough question because there really have been so many. I suppose my finest moment occurred when I worked at a fledgling newspaper as a proofreader/editor. Several times I mentioned in passing that I worked there and the response was, “Oh! That new one! I love it! There are never any mistakes in it!” While I don’t take sole credit, I know I played a large part in that paper’s reputation for accuracy. An editor/proofreader is the first reader. It’s better that the editor and proofreader catch something before the publication reaches the general readership.

5. How can people find out more about your services?

People can contact me by checking out my websites:

or by emailing me at or


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