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John McAllister


Surrey, BC V3R 8K7
Primary contact: 


I am a highly experienced freelance editor who excels in substantive and stylistic editing of short fiction, academic writing, project reports, memoirs, feature articles, speeches, and presentations. I particularly enjoy working with texts on sexuality, gender, human rights, and international development. 

My Background

I have a PhD in English from Queen's University at Kingston and taught English literature, writing, speech arts, and theatre at universities in Canada, Kenya, and Botswana for more than 20 years with consistently excellent student and peer evaluations. For several years I was the senior editor at Arcadia Communications in Nairobi, which specialized in research, writing, editing, and communication planning for NGOs. From 2003 until 2006, I was the founding managing editor of Future Positive, a lifestyle magazine for people living with HIV and AIDS in southern Africa, and since 2011 I have been lead editor of Q-zine, an online review of African LGBTQ arts and culture.

In my own name, I have published scholarly articles on African postcolonial literature and LGBT activism. As ghost-writer or editor, I have written, co-written, or edited numerous sectoral studies, annual reports, backgrounders, project reports, academic articles and other materials on a wide range of topics. From 2005 to 2008, I was a consulting editor with the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). At the University of Botswana, I coordinated the Writers Workshop and mentored a number of young writers who went on to careers in journalism, public relations, technical writing, or communication management.

My broad general knowledge enables me to edit texts in any area outside the hard sciences, while my PhD in English and experience as both an editor and a writing teacher guarantee that everything I edit will be as clear, elegant, and effective as possible. Because of my long experience abroad, I have a particular knack for working with authors whose first language is not English.


...[F]inding an editor is a stressful activity....The sheer quantity of freelance editors makes it difficult to slog through the pile....I wanted someone with a literary voice, and someone who didn’t show anxiety in the presence of adverbs and the passive voice. I also needed an editor who would follow the rules until it was necessary to break them. I found one.  His name is John McAllister. He is well-educated, well-trained and experienced. He has a nice writing style.... [H]e did excellent work, he did it on schedule, and he answered my extra questions for free. Yes, I’ll be using his services again.
– Sheila van der Heuvel-Collins, author: "To Be Human Again" (short story anthology)

A very punctual, detail-oriented, and professional editor with vast experience and a plethora of good advice...together with diligence, a positive approach, and an experienced perspective....
– Rafael Carreras, author: "The Runaway Trilogy" (non-fiction social commentary)

John brings fine details and creativity into any editing project and a commitment to preserving the stylistic integrity of the author. His interests and skills cut across many fields – from editing academic papers and NGO reports to polishing the work of a first-time writer – always with a keen interest in making texts accessible to many different audiences. At the core of his approach is care and attention, and his challenging feedback and uncommon insight help authors fine-tune their work. Over the years, John has become my go-to Editor for all my writing projects. After a round of editing by John, I publish my work with pride. 
– Mariam Armisen, Head of Programs, The Other Foundation, Johannesburg

Having interviewed several editors in an attempt to find the best fit, John stood out as the clear leader after sample edits. Throughout our work together, John was consistently professional, thorough, and he genuinely cared about working with me towards a final copy I was satisfied with, providing insights and meaningful questions as we went. Most importantly, I can say with confidence that the work John edited is richer for his having worked on it. I am confident recommending John to fellow authors.
– Chris Pickrell, author: "Freedom and the Animal" (novel)

Thanks. Your editing improved the proposal a lot.
– Faculty member, University of British Columbia






Editorial Skills

  • Abstracting
  • Copy editing
  • Online editing
  • Plain language
  • Proofreading
  • Referencing
  • Research and fact-checking
  • Rewriting
  • Structural and substantive editing
  • Stylistic editing
  • Writing


  • Academic books and monographs
  • Academic materials, general
  • Academic papers and essays
  • Books, self-published
  • Briefs, précis, and executive summaries
  • Conference materials
  • Fiction
  • Magazines
  • Public relations materials
  • Reports, other
  • Speeches
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Websites


  • Africa
  • Arts
  • Biography
  • Communications
  • Culture
  • Developing countries
  • Gender studies
  • Humanities, general
  • Literature