In a career devoted to written communication, I have 30 years of professional experience in writing, editing, analysis, and proofreading. Among my areas of expertise, I do proposal writing and academic editing. My background includes:
- a PhD in Professional Writing
- employment experience as an editor, proofreader, corporate writer, and business analyst (for the latter role, I wrote and edited corporate documentation 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.
I am now working in a permanent, full-time writing and editing role.
Due to these changed circumstances, I am restricting my freelance work to occasional non-urgent, smaller jobs. Such jobs might include reviewing a book proposal, copyediting a journal article, formatting a report, doing a sensitivity edit of an essay, writing part of an arts funding proposal (but not the entire proposal), etc.
If you’d like to discuss the possibility of hiring me, please book a time to chat. Let’s see if we can make things work.
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. I have done most of this work for not-for-profit organisations, especially in the arts (for both arts organisations and individual artists). However, over the last 18 months, I have been reviewing, writing, and advising on healthcare-related tender responses, and have thus far contributed to securing over $60 million of work.
For the past 25 years, I have built an excellent track record in writing and reviewing successful proposals, and helping organisations to redesign or otherwise improve their proposal writing processes. Since immigrating to Canada in 2015, I also have maintained a 100% success rate in writing arts funding proposals.
Throughout career in my proposal writing, 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.
Moreover, 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, whole issues of academic journals (including a special double issue of the Journal of Intercultural Studies, as well as two issues of City & Society), 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, dissertations, journal issues and articles, 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 Studio 303, Dancehouse, The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Leadership Victoria, and Footscray Community Arts Centre, amongst others.
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 revolutionized InkWell’s grant-writing process. Not only were we successful in our application to the Toronto Arts Council (receiving the full amount requested for the first time ever), the program framework he developed for us
, along with the mentorship he provided, will serve our organization for years to come. Tom is highly skilled, flexible, professional, and accommodating—I could not recommend working with him more highly.
We approached Tom about helping us with a quadrennial grant application, and got much more than we bargained for! Tom helped us look at what we do and how we do it, with fresh eyes. His perceptive observations and questions prompted us to reframe our mission, mandate and program arms, as well as consider and embrace some new strategic directions. Tom’s skill, speed, good humour and generous unwavering support made it so that we truly missed him once our work together was done. And all of it happened via Skype and Google Docs. Remarkable. We look forward to meeting Tom in person—and to working with him again.
We’d like to say a massive thank you to the brilliant author Tom Cho for his help in writing successful grant applications to Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council with us this season. His skill in putting these applications together is incredible. If you or your organization is looking for some grant-writing support, you should send him a message.
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.
Unit 2 would like to thank Tom Cho not only for slowing down his deep and careful writerly magic so we could learn from it, by helping us write a very successful Canada Council grant. He went above and beyond and by acting as a kind of mentor through the grant writing process, we realized our grassroots QT2S/BIPOC skill-share workshop series proposal before it was even submitted.
We worked with Tom in two areas of our arts business—grant-writing and strategic writing. Tom’s process is very strong. He asks excellent questions that facilitate effective collaboration. He can also synthesise vast quantities of information quickly. His command of language allows him to create concise, powerful, and inspiring articulations of purpose and mission, and to respond to funders’ enquiries in a way that captures not only the substance of the programming proposed, but its philosophy and ethos. He is a generous collaborator, a strategic thinker, and capable of providing well-informed advice if you let him! We would work with Tom again in a heartbeat. He is a great asset.
Tom assisted me in writing successful Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council grant applications for my first novel. He provided extensive feedback and suggestions on multiple drafts, with a focus on making the application cohesive and persuasive to jury members. His experience and dedication strengthened my applications significantly. I highly recommend working with Tom.
Tom worked exceptionally long hours within a very tight timeframe to copyedit my first sole-authored book on Australian identity and masculinity. Tom’s attention to detail is excellent, and he raised important questions that I believe have greatly improved the quality of my manuscript. As this is my first book. I was incredibly nervous about it, but I could not have asked for a more professional or trustworthy copyeditor. More recently, Tom edited my second book, which explored the cultural phenomenon of the dick pic. His work included developmental editing and copyediting. I was so grateful for all of his help, especially doing a last-minute Zoom call with me to resolve his remaining editorial queries. Editing the manuscript was a big and time-consuming job and I really appreciated his insight, editorial support, suggestions, and sensitivity edits.
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.
I have worked with Tom a number of times and he has always been a consummate professional in delivering high-quality work promptly. Several times now, I have asked Tom to edit proposals for my scholarly monographs, with an eye to making those books more marketable. Tom’s edits have helped these works find a home with publishers including Bloomsbury. I would heartily recommend Tom to anyone looking to sell an academic book.
Tom copyedited the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society’s 2018 Annual Report. His work was of an exceptional standard and his attention to detail is superb. He also was very generous in suggesting changes to the structure of the annual report that made it flow much more easily. I cannot recommend Tom highly enough.
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.
We engaged Tom at short notice to copyedit our resource Practice Considerations for Creating an LGBTIQ-Inclusive Family Violence Refuge: Learnings from Rainbow Health Australia’s Mentoring Pilot Project. He provided both macro structural editing and micro text editing, resulting in a much better product. Tom has an incredible eye for detail and also made use of existing subject matter knowledge and sector relationships to strengthen our content. We would definitely use Tom’s services again.
Tom was an absolute pleasure to work with. As a first-generation immigrant, I have always been anxious about the quality of my writing. In advising me on my doctoral application, Tom provided editorial feedback to strengthen my letter of intent and then gave additional advice in a phone consultation—and he did so with such care and kindness. I look forward to working with Tom on my future projects.
Tom copyedited two of my film studies articles, and was very professional, thorough, and attentive. He did excellent work, making valuable editorial comments and suggestions, and the communication with him was always very pleasant. I have no doubt that I will work with Tom again and I recommend him highly.
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 a 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.
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, which resulted in an Australia Council grant. 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.
Floundering to do justice to a decade-long creative project that I had become way too close to, I got Tom on board late in the grant application process. Working to tight timelines and even tighter word counts, Tom built a strong and eloquent case for my novel and my creative practice. I can’t commend Tom enough for his skill, efficiency and perceptiveness. He is altogether personable and professional.
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!
Tom copyedited an article I co-wrote with colleagues for publication in the scholarly journal City & Society. Thank you very much for your wonderful copy editing, Tom. We appreciate your work and skillfulness.
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.
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. My clients have varied considerably in terms of size and operating budget, and include individual artists, not-for-profit organisations of varying sizes, academics with and without associated research funding, small businesses, government departments, statutory authorities, and multinational corporations.