In a career devoted to written communication, I have over 25 years of professional experience in writing, editing, analysis, and proofreading. Among my areas of expertise, I do proposal writing for the not-for-profit sector and academic editing.
My background includes:
- a PhD in Professional Writing
- employment experience as an editor, proofreader, journalist, and copy-writer
- working as a business analyst on corporate documentation projects for large companies
- a parallel career as a fiction writer and artist.
From this background, I bring to my consultancy work a mix of the analytical and the creative, of macro-level thought and micro-level attention to the text.
A CV and samples of my work are available upon request. I also have many testimonials from clients, with most of my work coming from repeat business and word of mouth recommendations.
My clients have spanned the not-for-profit, public, and private sectors. Since 2000, many of my clients have come from the not-for-profit sector—particularly the arts, community, and health—and academia.
I have worked on-site on many occasions, but am equally comfortable working off-site, sometimes even a hemisphere away.
I work for individuals and organizations. Here is a selection of my organizational clients, past and present, in alphabetical order:
There was the business plan that helped a community arts centre to stay operational. Then there was the analysis and writing to help rejuvenate a not-for-profit organisation. There was even the book that accompanied a theatre performance and went on to be praised in some reviews, alongside the show.
These and other projects – corporate, academic, and creative – feature in my folio:
View my folio
I can work with a document at any stage of its development and I have considerable experience with salvaging documents that have major problems.
I have written many kinds of documents, including:
- funding proposals (see below for details)
- business and strategic plans (see also my work in analysis)
- annual reports
- corporate and sales brochures
- speeches and other presentations
- website copy
- policies and procedures
- media releases.
Learn more: Proposal writing
One of my areas of expertise is writing funding proposals for not-for-profit organisations, especially in the arts (for both arts organisations and individual artists). Over almost 15 years, I have built an excellent track record in writing successful proposals.
I have won grants:
- from all levels of government and from various philanthropic foundations
- for operational funding, as well as program and project funding
- for recurrent and one-off funding
- for multi-year and annual funding.
Grant proposals can be more than a means to acquire funding. Where relevant, I work with my clients so that the proposals I write can be used to:
- reposition or rejuvenate relationships with funders
- harmonise the varying narratives that are told to different funders
- leverage the writing of other documents, such as brochures and annual reports
- improve future grant-writing processes.
Editing and proofreading
I have formal training in editing and proofreading, and have been working professionally in this area since 1993. I have edited proposals, academic books and theses, marketing copy, a double-issue of a scholarly journal, policy and procedural manuals, software user guides, and much more. Documents that I have proofread include academic books, annual reports, the program for a major international arts festival, and even magazine advertisements.
I am skilled in both structural editing'Clarifying and/or reorganizing a manuscript for content and structure'. (Source: Definitions of editorial skills, Editors' Association of Canada) and copy editing'Editing for grammar, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style;' ensuring consistency of style and 'internal consistency of facts'. Can include other tasks, such as managing citations. (Source: Definitions of editorial skills, Editors' Association of Canada). I can also do ‘lighter edits’ to accommodate a client’s budgetary or other requirements.
One of my areas of specialisation is academic editing.
Learn more: Academic editing
I first began editing academic texts in 1995. Over the years, my skills have been enhanced through my own academic studies, including attaining my PhD.
I have edited academic books, journal issues, postgraduate theses, and proposals for research funding. I have editing experience in philosophy, psychology, anthropology, art history, linguistics, and Asian Australian studies, among other disciplines. I have applied many citation styles, including Chicago style and American Psychological Association (APA) style, as well as style policies specific to many individual scholarly journals.
Everyone has stories to tell about themselves – including organisations. Drawing on my dual background in business analysis and writing, I specialise in analysing these organisational narrativesAn organisational narrative can cover topics such as an organisation's history, major achievements, goals, values and unique selling proposition. (Source: Glossary of common PR terms, Gnosis Media Group), especially for organisations that are undergoing substantial change.
Following this analysis, I am able to:
- refocus these organisational narratives
- supply a corpus of refreshed language for an organisation to describe itself
- devise models to describe or re-cast an organisation’s work
- inform an organisation’s strategic thought, and write strategic plans and related documents.
I have done such analysis for Footscray Community Arts Centre, Leadership Victoria, The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, and—most recently—Dancehouse.
Advice, mentoring, and training
Whether as a separate service or as part of a project, I can advise clients on many communication matters, macro and micro – from document approach and structure, to improving authoring processes within their organisation.
I have experience mentoring writers and editors, and I have also presented proposal writing workshops and seminars.
Tom took on many of the formatting, copyediting, and proofreading duties for a series of four volumes that brought together leading scholars and philosophers of religion. As we mentioned in our Introduction to each volume, ‘without Tom’s consummate professionalism, the end product would not have been anywhere near as polished.’ Working long hours under a series of tight timelines, his efforts in preparing the volumes for publication were utterly amazing.
I had the pleasure of working with Tom for several months when he did a substantive edit of my book manuscript. Tom noticed important details in my manuscript that I and others had not seen. I quickly developed trust in his judgement and a deep respect for his work. I also found him to be an excellent communicator. In order to meet my writing timeline, Tom would often work until six in the morning and put in long hours during weekends. Tom is clearly an editor who goes above and beyond for his clients.
Tom copyedited my article for publication in the scholarly journal City & Society. I was impressed by his work and attention to detail. He improved my article and raised some really good questions, and I learned things from his comments. Who could ask for a better copyediting experience? Thank you very much indeed, Tom; it was a pleasure to work with you.
Tom Cho worked on Dancehouse’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, advancing and structuring our thinking, giving enormously detailed and relevant feedback on early drafts and finessing the final draft. His comments and sharp eye were extremely valuable – really a sort of eye-opener – and they prompted a very in-depth analysis on our side of what we were saying we were achieving and how we were doing it. The Strategic Plan is now a document that truly reflects the vision, philosophy and ethics of the organisation and makes us all feel very proud. We are so grateful to Tom for his fine thinking, energy and time he put into this job. We would have not managed without him.
Tom and I collaborated over a number of years in a number of different capacities at the City of Melbourne. The 100% Melbourne book
was the most recent and highly celebrated project where Tom was engaged as the writer and editor. He is insightful and talented, and he deeply engaged with the complexities of the work, resulting in outcomes that went beyond expectations.
Tom Cho provided strategic insights to the work of Footscray Community Arts Centre
and Leadership Victoria
. He developed major organisational documents and new organisational language that became the blueprint for the rebuilding of our brands. Tom has a great understanding of how to use the written word strategically. He also knows how to work collaboratively to realise an organisation’s vision, working effectively not only one on one with the CEO, but also with the broader team. I commend and recommend Tom’s work.
Tom Cho has edited both a major grant application and special double issue of an academic journal for me, and I could not recommend his services more highly. Tom’s work is excellent. He is meticulous, punctual, and proactive, with a usefully broad knowledge of many types of writing. He’s also just great to work with.
Tom worked incredibly hard, within an exceptionally short time frame, to copyedit and format my PhD thesis. His rigorous attention to detail, his knowledge of and complete adherence to my university’s rules governing editorial input, and his collegiate and calm communications, relieved much of the stress of the last weeks before submission. I absolutely look forward to working with Tom again on future projects. I recommend him unreservedly to anyone who is in need of his broad range of professional skills.
While I was an Artist in Residence at Footscray Community Arts Centre in 2006 and 2008, Tom Cho and I collaborated to write several grant applications. Tom is a great listener and a firm believer in specificity. He gently led me away from the obscure and the general, and from my ramblings, he constructed a clear and very readable document that retained a sense of the potentiality that art should inspire in us. Needless to say, these grants were successful. In fact, a member of the Dance Board of the Australia Council whispered to me that one of the proposals was the best grant application he had read in his four years on the Board!
Tom worked with me to edit my arts funding application. I asked him to work with me in a way that would let me learn from him. It was a wonderful process where he marked up my draft proposal with his suggested changes, making it much more focused on responding to the questions and maximising my message to the assessment panel. Importantly, Tom wrote notes for me, describing his thought process and explaining his suggested changes. I have learnt a lot about grant writing from working closely with Tom in this way. I was really pleased with the transformation of my first draft to a final copy that was focussed with a clear narrative.
Tom recently provided me with advice on how to create an appropriate budget for my first-ever literary grant application to the Australia Council. His guidance was extremely helpful, and the application resulted in my being awarded a substantial sum of money to write my next book. I myself have worked as a grant writer for non-government organisations since 2011 and—having now been a recipient of Tom’s excellent grant-writing advice—thoroughly recommend his services to prospective clients.
Read more testimonials
I have had the great pleasure to collaborate with Tom across a range of writing contexts. We’ve created successful arts grants applications together, written a book
together and every time Tom asks the best questions to make the best work come to life. Tom’s fierce curiousity, flexibility and good grace make him a formidable and spunky writing accomplice!
tilde brought Tom on board to write a grant for a state government arts funding body. It was an absolute pleasure working with Tom. He was extremely competent and professional in his communication and approach. As a growing small community organisation, we greatly appreciated the wealth of knowledge Tom brought to this process in terms of best ways to frame proposals, aspects of managing arts projects, articulating our project and vision, and contacts in the arts space and community arts organisations. Not only does he have top notch writing abilities but he has a strong sensitivity, understanding and ability to capture the essence of what tilde Trans & Gender Diverse Film Festival is all about. We would bring Tom on board again in a heartbeat!
Tom Cho first worked for me by writing a successful triennial funding proposal for an arts festival. We then developed a strategic plan for a neighbourhood house and two policies for a community services organisation. Tom blends his extensive knowledge of arts and community-based organisations with his creativity and exceptional skills in analysis, editing and writing. He also always delivers on time, even when deadlines are incredibly tight.
Tom edited my personal statement for my law school application. He asked me critical questions to explicate the most important messages in my piece. He helped me to connect the dots that I, being so close to my own work, took for granted as being obvious to the reader. Tom is careful, detail-oriented, and also a true pleasure to work with. Because of his professional, kind, and clear communication, I felt assured throughout our collaboration that he, too, was invested in the success of my application.
I worked with Tom Cho for over 10 years at Footscray Community Arts Centre. His writing, editing, and analysis work was both intuitive, in respect to his quickly grasping and researching thoroughly the requirements of his briefs, and of an exceptionally high standard.
I approached Tom Cho to help me apply for two literature grants. Knowing little about the process, I had no idea where to begin or what to expect. Tom took charge of the situation with skilled proficiency. In the time we worked together he was patient, diligent and thoroughly professional at all times. I knew I was in safe hands and do not hesitate to recommend him wholeheartedly to writers or organisations.
I work on a sliding scale based on a client’s ability to pay (for select not-for-profit organisations, it may even be possible for me to work within a bartering arrangement). My clients have varied considerably in terms of size and operating budget, and include individual artists, academics with and without associated research funding, a small publisher with two employees, not-for-profit organisations of varying sizes, government departments, statutory authorities, and multinational corporations.
Contact me for a quote or more details