Working with Words: Tim Coronel

Tim Coronel is an editor, writer and former bookseller. He’s currently the editor of fortnightly community magazine MetroWest and works with the Small Press Network to coordinate this year’s Independent Publishing Conference. He was publisher of Bookseller and Publisher magazine, has edited two film magazines and is a freelance editor and proofreader for various publishers.

We spoke to him about ‘real real’ deadlines, chasing payment as a freelancer and sharing his name with a Dutch racing-car driver.

What was the first piece of writing you had published?

It was a review in what was then called Australian Bookseller & Publisher (now Books+Publishing). I honestly can’t remember the title of the book but I do recall I didn’t like it very much!

What’s the best part of your job?

I still get a thrill seeing and touching printed things I’ve played a part in: opening that box of magazines fresh from the printer, or getting that first copy of a book in the mail.

What’s the worst part of your job?

As a freelancer, it’s chasing payment. Some clients pay promptly … and some don’t.

What’s been the most significant moment in your writing and editing career so far?

It’s hard to pick a single most significant moment. A recent highlight was last year’s Independent Publishing Conference that I coordinated for the Small Press Network. It was well-attended and well received and I’m hoping we can build on its success with this year’s conference, which will be held in Sydney in mid-November.

What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve received about writing or editing?

I probably shouldn’t let this trade secret out, but editors have a real, real deadline and then they have the deadline they tell contributors: always build in a bit of a buffer to your schedules because things will inevitably not go entirely to plan.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve ever heard or read about yourself?

I’m always surprised when ‘I’ win the Dakar Rally or a round of the European Saloon Car championship – I share my name with a Dutch racing-car driver.

If you weren’t making your living by working with words, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

I’d like to be a professional tester of mattresses, pillows and doonas. Being paid to sleep is my dream job!

There’s much debate on whether writing can be taught – what’s your view?

For people who already have an affinity for writing, I’m sure that the structure of a course helps: you’re meeting other writers, getting feedback and advice and hopefully good, practical advice on how to improve your writing and your chances of publication.

What’s your advice for someone wanting to be a writer or editor?

Read. A lot.

Do you buy your books online, in a physical bookshop, or both?

Both. Sometimes if I know exactly what I’m after it’s quick and easy to buy online, but nothing beats the serendipity of browsing in a good bookshop and coming across a book you wouldn’t otherwise know about.

If you could go out to dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

I have this odd belief that fictional characters aren’t real people and don’t have a life beyond that page, so whoever I chose I’d also have to have the author sitting alongside so they could write the dinner party into existence, and the author would be the one responsible for the dialogue.

What’s the book that’s had the most significant impact on your life or work – and why?

There have been so many books that have influenced who I am and how I think, but if I have to choose a single book that I call on again and again as an editor I’d have to nominate the Style Manual. No matter how long you’ve been editing, every now and then you need to check if it’s ‘per cent’ or ‘percent’ or whether a previous prime minister deserves capitalisation.

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