Photo of Nicole Aquino

Nicola Aquino has a master’s degree in microbiology, but chose to be a stay-at-home-mum while her children were growing up. Nicola volunteered with La Leche League Canada, a national charity providing breastfeeding support, eventually spending nine years as a national administrator. That role included a lot of editing (newsletters, information sheets, handbooks). She is now is a fantasy fiction editor and the sole proprietor of Spit and Polish Editing. She recently completed the Professional Editing Standards Certificate through Professional Studies at Queen’s University.


Professional Studies: What drew you to editing?

When I was in university, my parents asked me to review a conference abstract that they intended to submit the next day. At the time I didn’t know the difference between proofreading and structural editing, and I tore it apart. Once they got over their annoyance, they agreed with most of my suggestions.


PS: What kind of editing work do you do?

I mostly do developmental editing of fiction. I define developmental editing as a combination of structural and stylistic editing. To date, most of the books I’ve been involved in have been fantasy, but I’ve also done a thriller and proofread a historical fiction novella.


PS: What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started editing?

I wish that I had taken more time to explore the field and business of editing before I jumped in with both feet and hung out a shingle.


PS: Why did you decide to take the Professional Editing Standards courses?

Impostor syndrome. I felt I needed to have a piece of paper to prove my skills. As I was considering my options I saw an advertisement for the Professional Editing Standards courses certificate in the Queen’s Alumni Review, and the rest is history.


PS: What was your experience while doing the Professional Editing Standards courses?

I enjoyed all the courses. I took them one at a time to allow me to focus on the specific scope of each type of editing. Overall I learned a lot, both directly from the courses and through identifying gaps in my knowledge. I have a significant number of resources saved for future reference and to help fill the gaps.

I enjoyed all the courses. I took them one at a time to allow me to focus on the specific scope of each type of editing.


PS: What opportunities do you hope the Professional Editing Standards Certificate will make available to you?

I am hoping that authors will recognize that I have the skills required to edit their novels.


PS: What advice do you have for editors who are interested in taking the Professional Editing Standards courses?

Participate in the forums! I found that committing a short period of time each day to course work meant none of it felt overwhelming. For me, that time was first thing in the morning (before opening email or social media) as I am a morning person. Because I do developmental editing, I started with the bigger picture courses (Fundamentals then Structural) and then followed the process a manuscript would follow: stylistic, copyedit, proofread. The courses are all stand-alone so I don’t think order really matters, but I did find with this approach each course built on the last.


PS: What’s next for you?

I am a lifelong learner, so I will continue to seek out professional development opportunities, such as conferences and webinars—I’ve learned a lot from the Editors Canada webinars I have taken. I am hoping for a busy fall, as a regular client is working on a trilogy for rapid release. I plan to spend time working on my business: marketing, setting up an entry in the Editors Canada online directory and creating a system for onboarding new clients.

I am a lifelong learner, so I will continue to seek out professional development opportunities…


PS: What are your goals for your business?

In an ideal world I would have sufficient clients to be editing about 20 books per year (with minimal marketing 😉). That would give me the work–life balance necessary to allow me to volunteer, follow a healthy lifestyle and still have time to knit and cross-stitch.


Spit and Polishing Editing Logo

PS: Where can our readers find you?

My website is Spit and Polishing Editing. I also have a Facebook business page. I am active in a number of Facebook editor groups, and will soon have a profile on the Editors Canada online directory. Like many introverts, my preferred method of contact is email: