Category Archives: Conference

The hidden art of editing – the 2016 Whitcombe lecture

By Susan Greenberg

When I was first invited to give the keynote Whitcombe lecture at this year’s SfEP conference, they told me about the theme for this year – ‘Let’s talk about text’ – and explained: ‘Our members’ work is very varied, but we are all in the business of improving text.’

I feel a deep affinity with this approach. I have spent the greater part of my life thinking about what it means to improve texts; first as a practitioner, then as an academic.

When I started a PhD to go with this new career, about 10 years ago, I wanted to choose a subject that connected these two different lives. And I chose editing in particular because – like other behind-the-scenes work – it is mostly invisible; a hidden art. It would be interesting to bring it more fully into view.

Right from the start, my instinct was to look at the subject in the round. The analysis had to be comparative; it had to take the long view, and it had to include the insights of practitioners. The comparative aspect is crucial, because we already know how the different kinds of editorial work are different; why not ask how they might be similar?

Z_EditorsCoverSo far, one book has already come out of this research, and work on a second is advanced. In the first book, a set of interviews, we get to hear conversations on a human level about what people do when they are editing and what they think about it. This does three main things:

  1. It teases out the shared concerns of different kinds of editors.
  2. It gives a rough shape of a possible ‘best practice’.
  3. It underlines the extent to which good communication is hard; and so the extent to which people need help.

The second book is based on the idea that to bring this invisible practice into full view, we need not just description and definition, but also a really good theory.

We think of ‘theory’ as something high-minded and abstract, but it can and does affect everyday life. Compared to other cultural practices, publishing is very under-theorised. And this can end up undermining its value or status. The reason is that people need a framework in which they can fit random discoveries; otherwise the things they encounter are not fully noticed or remembered.

So, one needs a theory, but the type of theory makes a difference to visibility as well. Until now, the theorisation of editing often comes under the heading of ‘social constructivism’ and often uses the language of ‘gatekeeping’. This is a useful metaphor, but it can struggle to fit all sizes. And it sometimes makes too many assumptions about its subject. The assumption in the case of editing is usually that the ‘gatekeeper’ is always bad, and is always found only in whatever part of the media that the researcher does not like.

That is why I feel there is a need to define principles for textual work that make more allowances for the messiness of human practice.

Dr Susan Greenberg

Dr Susan Greenberg

Dr Susan L. Greenberg is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton [1], following a long career as journalist and editor. She teaches and offers doctoral supervision in her specialist areas of narrative nonfiction, and publishing. Susan is also the Publisher of the department’s in-house imprint, Fincham Press [2]. Publications include Editors talk about editing: insights for readers, writers and publishers (Peter Lang, 2015) [3]. Visit her blog at Oddfish [4] or follow her on Twitter at @sgediting. [5]

The new girl and the SfEP conference

By Karen White

My name is Karen, and I’ve been a member of the SfEP for about six weeks. I’m officially the New Girl.

I’m not used to being that new girl. I’ve been in publishing since 1997, working my way from Editor to Publishing Manager in an in-house role, and as a freelance editor, project manager and trainer since 2008. I specialise in ELT (English Language Teaching) and work with various international publishers on multi-level, multi-component print and digital products. And until six weeks ago I’d been functioning very happily without the SfEP, thank you very much.

In 2015 a colleague and I organised an Awayday for other ELT freelancers. We’d realised that there are quite a number of us, mostly working from home, and we’d like an opportunity to network, learn new skills and find out what’s happening in our industry. Freelancers don’t get sent on training courses, market visits or to conferences, and 100 people signed up for the event. One of those was Sarah Patey, who went away wondering why so few ELT freelancers are SfEP members. We organised another Awayday in January this year and Sarah offered to come back and tell us more about the organisation and how it could benefit us. Denise Cowle also came and added her voice, and since then Sarah and Denise have set up an SfEP ELT forum. I was convinced and signed up. I’m now the proud owner of an Advanced Professional Member badge and an entry in the database.

So do I need to spend over £400 going to the conference? I’ve got plenty of work, a good network to turn to for help and support, I already know about new trends in ELT methodology, and it looks like a big chunk of money to spend. In an attempt to find out what more I might get out of the experience, I contacted a couple of other SfEP members who are local to me. We met up for coffee and had a great chat for a couple of hours about editing, life as a freelancer, rates of pay, and how to use PerfectIt. One of them had been to the conference several times and raved about it, particularly the gala dinner in Exeter when there was a spectacular sunset. She still had the photos on her phone!

I left our meeting and had a think. I have no idea about PerfectIt, but do enjoy networking with other editors and learning new skills. Looking at the conference programme, I’m initially most curious about Richard Hutchinson’s session on LaTeX. New trends in comfy clothes for freelancers? That’s a must-see. [In case you’re wondering if the SfEP has gone a bit risqué, it’s LaTeX the typesetting sytem – Ed.] But there are lots more sessions of interest to me – managing and mentoring others, business skills and software sessions in particular. And the Tweetup! @KarenWhiteInk WLTM @LouiseHarnby, @espirian, @ljedit and the rest of the gang. I might also get some ideas for next year’s ELT freelancers’ Awayday. Breaking the cost down, it’s about £165 per day, including all sessions, meals and accommodation, which is actually pretty good value.

So, as a new member of the SfEP who’s keen to find out more about the organisation, an editor who loves talking about work, meeting new people and discovering new tips and tricks, and a huge advocator of networking, I’ll be there, walking the talk. And if latex trousers are as comfy as my current preferred slouchy brand, I might even bring a pair home!

If you see the new girl in the corner of the playground, please come and say hi.

Karen White
Karen White

Karen White is a freelance project manager, editor and trainer specialising in ELT publishing. She runs a Facebook page where ELT editors can chat and share information, and blogs about editorial issues at White Ink Limited. If you’re a Twitter user, you can find her @KarenWhiteInk.

Posted by Tracey Roberts, SfEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

SfEP conference newbie? Take the plunge and seed your brain!

With bookings for the 2016 SfEP conference opening soon, Katherine Trail tells us what it was like to pluck up the courage to go for the first time last year, and why she is glad she did.

seed

I took a deep breath, held my head up high and strode into the group of fellow editors and proofreaders milling around on the campus of York University. ‘Hi, I’m Kat. Nice to meet you,’ I said, the tremor in my voice no doubt betraying me as a nervous first-timer.

From subsequent discussions with fellow newcomers (and even conference stalwarts) over that conference weekend, I wasn’t the only one who felt a bit nervous about spending several days with a group of relative strangers. It seems that we editors are often quite an introverted bunch and would rather wrestle with three pages of incorrectly formatted references than say hello to a group of people we’ve never met. If you’re reading this in the grip of a similar terror, let me reassure you: Getting up the courage to say those seven words was the bravest I had to be all weekend.

I had only been an SfEP member for around three or four months by the time conference rolled around, and my decision to go was a last-minute one, helped by those devils on my shoulders on the SfEP forum. I’d been an avid forum user since I had joined, finding the blend of camaraderie and unrivalled knowledge of huge benefit to someone just starting out on their own. My use of the forums also had a very practical result, as I was able to put faces to names from afar. From seeing SfEP members’ photos online, I could spot internet director John Espirian at twenty paces across the crowded coffee room, nod sagely to myself when Rod Cuff spoke so eloquently at the AGM, saying, Ah yes, he touched on that on his forum post the other day, and recognise Sara Donaldson (green hair, that must be her).

I was very relieved to find that everybody I met was extremely friendly and eager to meet me too. From the conversations we had at breakfast, lunch and dinner (and the slightly more garbled conversations towards the end of the gala dinner), I learned a huge amount about others’ career paths and processes and was also relieved to find that ‘imposter syndrome’ was something shared among many of my colleagues. Phew, not just me then!

Going into conference weekend, I had so far in my solo career been doing a bit of everything: fiction, non-fiction, the odd thesis or dissertation, newspaper work as a hangover from my journalism career, etc. I felt like I was drifting a little bit without direction or a destination in mind, lacking the confidence or focus to pull out a map and draw a big X on it where I wanted to be. There just seemed to be so many opportunities, and so many great editors already doing each thing, that I wondered if there was a place for me in there.

I’d approached the SfEP programme of events with a military-like precision, honing in on the workshops and talks that I thought would give me the most benefit as I tried to figure out a path for myself. There was a lot of choice, and I had to miss some sessions as they clashed with others, but finally I had plotted out my master plan. Without fail, every one of those sessions gave me something to think about. As the weekend wore on, and I spoke to more colleagues and the experts who were giving the talks, a little seed at the back of my brain started to sprout leaves. By the time I was on the train home on Monday, it had blossomed into a flower. I had finally found the confidence and focus I was looking for. I was going to specialise in fiction.

Now, I might have told a little lie at the start; the one about how saying hello was the bravest thing I had to do. You see, I’d been gently persuaded into giving a lightning talk on the first full day of conference. ‘It’s just five minutes,’ they told me. ‘Hardly any time at all.’ I will grudgingly admit that the adrenaline from actually getting up in front of a (scarily large) group of people and talking for five minutes just about made up for almost having a panic attack during the session beforehand. And I felt immensely proud of myself. It gave me some of the confidence I had been lacking, and made me feel that I do indeed have a place in the editing world.

Back home, exhausted but happy, I bored my friends and family for days with conference tales. It seemed like my Facebook friends list doubled in the days following, and I’m still reaping the benefits months later, with people I met at conference referring clients and opportunities to me and vice versa. And I’m still on the path it gave me the confidence to follow; since conference, I’ve done three courses on fiction editing, I’ve totally revamped my website to reflect my new focus, I’ve joined the SfEP social media team, and I’ve signed up for the fiction professional development day in June, and I can’t wait to see some old friends and make some new ones. And I’m still on the forum and SfEP social media sites every day, and still amazed by the knowledge of other members and their unflagging willingness to share it with others.

Booking for this year’s conference opens on 7 March. Details can be found on the conference page of the SfEP website. Non-members welcome.

Katherine TrailKatherine Trail is a former newspaper chief sub-editor who nows specialises in fiction. She lives in Aberdeen and when she isn’t editing she can usually be found tramping through the wilderness with her spaniel, Daisy.
http://www.sfep.org.uk/directory/kt-editing-services-katherine-trail
http://www.ktediting.com/

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

Conferences can be for oldies too

By Rod Cuff

I have a couple of vivid memories of the first time I went to a conference of what was then in 2000 the SFEP (capital F for ‘[of] Freelance’, as distinct from today’s lower case f for … well, ‘for’). The previous afternoon’s AGM had been dull for a newcomer, everyone seemed to know everyone else and no one had spoken to me, so I was pretty apprehensive as I waited for the conference to start.

But then the chief organiser, John Woodruff, positively bounced onto the stage wearing a T-shirt that read ‘Daily sex Dyslexia rules OK!’ I just might enjoy this, I thought.

Soon I was sitting in a big circle of chairs for my first workshop, on time management and ways of becoming more efficient. As others responded to the workshop leader’s questions, my height shrank by a few inches per minute until I had almost disappeared from sight. But finally, a question I could answer: is there one thing you could do that you know would improve your productivity? ‘Yes!’ I squeaked. A thousand eyes turned on me and glared. ‘I could delete Solitaire from my PC.’

Suddenly, twenty beaming, laughing faces turned to me. ‘We love you!’ they chorused. ‘Please be our friend!’ I drew myself up to six foot one again. I was in.

Some of that may be slightly exaggerated, but what is true is that speaking truth to power (well, the facilitator) turned a key for me, and I learned that, to get the best out of anything, it helps to put in something in the first place.

But, a dozen or so conferences later, I was feeling uneasy about what York 2015 might be like. Old hands tend to fade away from the conference scene eventually because in previous years we’ve done something similar to all the workshops likely to be on offer this time around. The pull then tends to be people rather than learning – meeting up with old friends and contacts, striking up conversations with new people, propping up the bar, singing in the Linnets, enjoying the conference dinner.

I’m no different, but very much to my surprise I found that this year’s conference turned out to be full of delightfully informative events. Three workshops/sessions, all short ones, are likely to have a direct bearing on how I work, whether on the few paid jobs I still do or for voluntary or recreational projects such as editing the concert programmes for a choir:

  1. practical uses of corpora for checking when particular words, phrases or spellings began to be used or go out of fashion in various kinds of media context
  2. a bracing critique of various ‘rules’ of grammar, which has made me rethink my approach to style guides
  3. a long list of software tools useful for editors, bound to improve my time at the computer in all sorts of ways.

But (sentences in unimpeachable English literature have begun with ‘But’ for centuries – thank you, workshop 2) the really memorable sessions were quite unexpected:

  • the Whitcombe Lecture by John Thompson was the most thought-provoking one I’ve heard for years
  • a hands-on session on simple paper-book making and paper engineering was just a total delight (you rarely see so many happy faces at a workshop)
  • a two-hour run through the development of typefaces and methods of printing made a whole lot of past evolution, practices and technologies clear to me for the first time.

paper-book making at the 2015 SfEP conference

The lesson for me from all this is that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and moreover you can rejuvenate the old dog in the process. Needy spirit Serendipity rules OK!

Rod CuffRod Cuff took up proofreading and editing as a second career after a maths degree, thirty years in computer software development and a lifetime interest in astronomy. Naturally, he spent most of his time copy-editing books on the history of ballet and the maintenance of Swedish reservoirs. He is the SfEP’s Judith Butcher Award winner for 2015.

 

Proofread by Karen Pickavance.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

SfEP/SI Conference Fair 2015

sfep-si-banner@2x

Off to the SfEP/SI conference this weekend? Then come along to the conference fair, where you can:

  • see our showcase of delegates’ other interests, ‘More than words…’: this is an opportunity to find out about other delegates’ hidden talents and see what they’re up to, from running craft businesses to carrying out voluntary work in the community.
  • read about the history of the SfEP and SI: the Society of Indexers goes back some way and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (as it is now known) was formed from its sister organisation; our display shows some of the things the two bodies have achieved, both separately and together
  • find out who’s who on the SfEP Council and SI Executive Board
  • browse (and buy from!) the full range of SfEP guides and a selection of SI booklets
  • snap up a bargain SI-branded t-shirt, sweatshirt or stationery item
  • buy an environmentally friendly conference bag
  • see the tempting display of raffle prizes and buy your raffle tickets
  • buy a parking permit for Monday
  • pick up your tea and coffee (available during refreshment breaks only).

On Monday 7 September we will be joined by Daniel Heuman, managing director of Intelligent Editing and one of our sponsors. This is your opportunity to find out about, or ask him tricky questions about, PerfectIt!

Our sponsors:

PerfectIt
Sponsor of the something-for-everyone session ‘Digital tools for the efficient freelancer’

PerfectIt is an MS Word add-in that is used by more than 400 members of SfEP, and more than a thousand professional editors around the world. You can use PerfectIt to check consistency of hyphenation, capitalisation, abbreviations, heading case, lists, tables and much more. You can also customise PerfectIt to check house styles and enforce style preferences. PerfectIt is easy to install, easy to use, and it finds mistakes that even the most eagle-eyed editor can find difficult to spot. A free trial is available from www.intelligentediting.com.

Out of House Publishing
Sponsor of the workshop ‘It’s not just about existing: work–life balance for freelancers’

Out of House Publishing offers a comprehensive project management service for every kind of publishing project. We organise all aspects of the publishing process from concept to final delivery. We provide flexible solutions to deliver content in the format our customers need. From meticulous copy-editing in the UK to fast data conversion in India, we put together the right team to deliver projects on time and on budget.

With years of experience in traditional book production, coupled with hands-on knowledge of state-of-the-art front-end XML workflows and eLearning resource development, we deliver the most efficient plan to bring products to market.

Working effectively with editors, indexers and proofreaders is vital to our success and we value the friendships we’ve built up with our freelance suppliers over many years. We are always delighted to hear from anyone interested in working with us.

CINDEX Software
Sponsor of the ‘first-timer’ pre-dinner drinks

CINDEX™ was launched in September 1986. Originally for DOS, it was rewritten in 1997 for the Mac, and the following year for the Windows operating system. Over the years there have been countless upgrades and updates to keep abreast of operating systems and the changing needs of indexers and their clients.

Above all CINDEX remains powerful, yet simple to use. It handles, effortlessly and unobtrusively, all the time-consuming tasks in indexing, allowing the indexer to concentrate on the facts and ideas developed in the text.

 

Posted by Liz Jones, SfEP Marketing and PR Director.

#sisfep15 – Twitter competition

sfep-si-banner@2x

The hashtag for this year’s joint conference with the Society of Indexers is #sisfep15. Don’t forget to use it in the run-up to the conference, whether you’re planning to be there or would just like to keep up with what’s happening.

For the chance to win the mug that every thirsty Twitter enthusiast needs – ‘Go Away I’m Tweeting’ from the Literary Gift Company – make sure you’re following @TheSfEP or @indexers (of course we hope you already follow both!) and use the #sisfep15 hashtag. Every qualifying tweet will be entered into the draw for a chance to win, and the winner will be announced during the closing session of this year’s conference.

Tweetup

After the success of last year’s inaugural conference Tweetup, this year’s will take place from 5.05pm to 5.45pm on Sunday 6 September. Do take this rare opportunity to put faces to Twitter handles!

You can read a Storify of the Twitter highlights from last year’s SfEP conference.

See the SfEP website for the competition terms and conditions.

 

Posted by Liz Jones, SfEP Marketing and PR Director.

Proofread by SfEP Professional Member Louise Lubke Cuss.

Reference editing solutions for copy-editors

This is a guest post by Inera, who are hosting a workshop on their online reference editing tool Edifix at the SfEP/SI conference.

We’ve all been there. Eager to get started on a new project, you open the first document only to find yourself staring at a long list of poorly prepared references. You are now charged with the task of scrubbing the reference items clean so that they conform to a style (Chicago, AMA, etc.), and you begrudgingly come to terms with the inevitable long days and nights of work ahead before you even begin working on the text itself. Fingers crossed that the reference editing will go smoothly, you pull out the required style manual, take a deep breath, hunker down, and get to work.

Although many of us use time-saving macros to programmatically and quickly address some of the more routine reference editing tasks (see, e.g., the helpful tools offered by Editorium), it doesn’t take long to do some simple maths and come to the conclusion that even at your best, you will perhaps spend more time on reference editing than anything else pertaining to the manuscript. Further to this, if you are being paid a flat fee for the project, your hourly rate decreases dramatically the more time you spend on reference editing. You may find yourself wondering: ‘Aren’t my skills and attention better spent on polishing the author’s writing and correcting for grammar, spelling, and usage errors?’ The answer is yes, yes they are.

Fortunately, there is an online reference editing tool that successfully takes on the task of editing references – whatever their condition. Edifix, a cloud-based solution from Inera Inc., identifies the elements of a reference entry of any style, edits references to conform to the conventions of a selected editorial style, and corrects references with data retrieved from PubMed and CrossRef, automatically inserting PubMed IDs and CrossRef DOIs in the process.

The challenge of efficiently and accurately copy-editing a reference list or bibliography is not a new problem. For years both freelance and in-house copy-editors and managers have struggled with how best to structure a workflow that either reduces or removes entirely the process of reference editing from the copy-editor’s list of tasks. Various (good) online reference authoring tools are on the market (e.g., EasyBib and BibMe), and these have been reviewed on editorial blogs such as Copyediting. But these tools are only useful for the editor who is compiling a bibliography or reference list, and the results still need to be carefully reviewed and copy-edited. Further, these tools do not assist a copy-editor who needs to clean up an untidy reference list or, heaven forbid, transform references that were authored in one editorial style to another. Although there are some tools that assist in editing text content (see, e.g., PerfectIt), none address references/bibliographies.

Edifix allows you to simply copy and paste your unedited references into a web form, and with the click of your mouse retrieve those same references, edited to the style of your choice. The team responsible for Edifix includes not only software developers but also editors with decades of professional and freelance experience. The Edifix tools they’ve created are quick and user friendly, and the results not only save you time but also improve the accuracy of the reference data and your copy-edit.

Achieving accuracy in reference lists and bibliographies is no small challenge. For example, one study published in 2004 sampled three anatomy journals and found that of the references studied 27% contained errors, and of those 38% were major errors. By collecting PubMed and CrossRef data on the references processed, Edifix is able to quickly identify and correct errors in the source that may have been inadvertently inserted by the author.

Edifix gives you multiple options for viewing the results, which include a tracked layout so you can see exactly what Edifix corrected. Results can then be copied and pasted back into your Word document, or they can be exported to JATS XML or converted to RIS for integration with popular reference managers (such as EndNote).

Edifix

Dr Robin Dunford, of Inera Inc., will host an Edifix workshop on Saturday 5 September, at the SfEP/SI first joint conference. Be sure to sit in on this session to see how Edifix can help you save time and increase both your editing accuracy and bottom line! Also, join us on the SfEP Twitter feed to discuss your approach to editing bibliographies:

  1. Do your clients require that you perform fact checking to ensure the accuracy of reference/bibliography entries?
  2. What are the most time-consuming and challenging tasks related to reference/bibliography editing that you encounter in your daily work?
  3. What solutions have you developed or explored to ease the burdens of editing bibliographies?

Since 1992 Inera’s seasoned team of publishing and software professionals have pooled a unique set of skills to bring transformational change to the publishing industry. We develop and license the eXtyles family of Word-based editorial and XML tools, and the new Edifix online bibliographic reference solution. Learn more at: www.inera.com | www.edifix.com | @eXtyles | @edifix.

If you would like to join the discussion on editing bibliographies (in response to the questions above), please use the conference hashtag (#sisfep15) and tag @edifix. 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Judith Butcher Award shortlist 2015

The SfEP has issued a shortlist of members to be considered by this year’s sub-committee in charge of the Judith Butcher Award. It is presented to someone who makes or has made a ‘clearly identifiable and valuable difference’ to the SfEP.

Each year, all Society members are asked to nominate candidates for the Award, saying why they think the nominee should be considered, and the sub-committee draws up a shortlist. This is then studied carefully, and the winner decided upon.

The presentation itself takes place at the conference gala dinner on 6 September.

Three candidates are on the shortlist: Paul Beverley, Rod Cuff and Louise Harnby.

PBPaul Beverley

Paul is described as giving ‘unstintingly of his time and expertise, sharing freely what could be considered commercially valuable expertise (which he could easily have sold in ebook format instead)’, and as ‘helpful to me and countless others simply by responding to queries about, or requests to write, macros’. Another nominator writes that Paul ‘contributes a great deal to the continuing professional development of the SfEP membership’.

RCRod Cuff

In many years on the general committee (precursor of the current council), developing and looking after matters electronic, Rod ‘has been a driving force within the SfEP … developing and maintaining the website and the online Directory, and running SfEPLine’, managing the Directory until 2012 and somehow able to fit in being the official proofreader for Editing Matters for the last 12 years. In addition, he ‘has used his long experience of SfEP’s past by working voluntarily in the Membership Working Group and the Futures Group … to lead the many hours of research, thinking and work that led to the new membership arrangements now in place’. Another role is as a key member of the Linnets – the choir that performs at the annual conference – and he also ‘flew the flag for editors on Only Connect’.

LHLouise Harnby

Louise is described by one nominator as ‘a constant source of inspiration … [she] has helped no end of newer members of the Society’. The set of PDF proofreading stamps that she provides free to members of the Society, the books she has published on setting up as an editor and on marketing editorial services, and her inspirational blog are the most visible of many efforts on behalf of members, including what have been described as ‘always thoughtful, thorough and polite … posts on SfEP forums’.

A longer version of this article originally appeared in the July/August edition of Editing Matters, the membership magazine of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

Ten tips for successful conference networking

meetingBy Mary McCauley

By this time last year I had already booked my flight to my first ever SfEP conference. I had been invited to present a seminar and I was absolutely petrified. I lay awake at night worrying; not only was I going to a conference in another country, I was also going to have to get up and speak in front of a room full of strangers. I knew just one other person attending … and I had only met her once before. What on earth had I let myself in for?

I needn’t have worried. I went to the 2014 conference, met lots of lovely people, made some fantastic new friends, learned an incredible amount (and not all of it during the workshops and seminars) and I thoroughly enjoyed and gained from the entire experience.

Networking, according to our friends in the Oxford English Dictionary, is to ‘interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts’. That’s the formal way of looking at it: I think of it as getting away from my desk, hanging out with my tribe, meeting and learning from interesting colleagues, making new likeminded friends and having fun. So whether you’re a conference regular or a nervous newbie (as I was), here are my ten tips for making the conference networking experience a more fruitful and enjoyable one.

Network online before you go

Joining pre-conference online discussions will make it easier to join real-life conversations come September! You can find out who’s going to the SfEP conference and get lots of advice and tips on all things conference related by joining the pre-conference chats on the SfEP forums. If you have a Facebook account make sure to join any relevant groups in which members are discussing the conference. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow the #sisfep15 tweets – better still, if you use the likes of Hootsuite or TweetDeck, you can set up a dedicated #sisfep15 stream.

If you’re normally a social media lurker rather than an active participant, then perhaps make a special effort to comment more in discussions. If you don’t already have a social media account, then I recommend you join Facebook as a starting point. It seems to be the social media hangout of choice for many editors internationally, and it’s a fantastic tool for meeting editorial colleagues and learning from others.

Use a recent photo of yourself in your social media profile

Many people have genuine concerns about identity theft and privacy when it comes to using an actual photo of themselves rather than a substitute/default image in online profiles. However, it makes it easier to approach colleagues at the conference if you recognise each other’s photos from social media. Try and use a photo that was taken in the past five years – one that reflects the way you look now. It’s easier to make conversation with a new colleague if they’re not completely distracted by the differences between the social media you and the real you!

Make a wish list

Before you head off to the conference (or, following onsite registration, when you get a list of the attendees) make a note of all the people you’d like to meet in person during the conference. This can include both speakers and attendees. Perhaps you’d like to meet an industry expert, training supplier or publisher’s representative; or it may be a colleague whose blog posts or social media comments you admire; or a member of the SfEP council or admin staff (don’t forget to put faces to the names of all the hard-working SfEP office team!). If there’s a helpful colleague whom you haven’t met in person, but who has referred clients to you or helped you in any way, it would be nice to meet them in person to thank them.

Feel the fear and … smile!

So you’ve come out of social media lurking mode and taken part in online discussions; you’ve bitten the bullet and posted a lovely recent photo of yourself on Facebook; and you’re walking in the door for registration on day one of the conference … but all you want to do is find a nice dark corner in which to hide. Just remember that even the most confident person in the room is probably feeling a bit apprehensive – it’s normal, but don’t let it hold you back from having a productive and enjoyable conference. Often what we project is reflected back to us, so a smile goes a long way. The knots in your stomach may not be conducive to smiling, but the more you do it the more you’ll relax, and the more approachable you’ll be.

Arrange to meet up

Adjusting to your surroundings in the first few hours of the conference, particularly if it’s your first, can make networking difficult. If possible, pre-arrange to meet up with a friend, or an online or local group colleague, before registration. Attending registration and the AGM with someone you know will ease you into networking mode – it’s easier to approach other people when you’re with someone. This is especially true if you wish to approach one of the more well-known presenters, guest speakers or panellists!

Be interested

How does one actually network? Well, for a start, try not to think of it as ‘networking’: approach it as mere friendly chatting with likeminded people with whom you share a love of words. Don’t be afraid to use small talk to get you started – where would we be without that wonderful fail-safe topic of conversation that is the weather? You could also comment on your surroundings, ask colleagues about their journey to the conference, where they travelled from, which sessions they’re most looking forward to, which type of editorial work they do, etc. – be interested in them and listen to what they have to say. You’ll find that most people will turn the tables and ask the same questions of you (‘And what about yourself?’), so think through in advance what you’d like to say about the type of work you do.

Help others

I attended non-editorial business conferences in my previous career and I’m amazed at the cultural differences between those and editorial conferences. Editorial folk are a naturally friendly and helpful bunch, happy to reach out to others. That wasn’t always my experience at business conferences! When you meet new people at the conference, be open to helping them – share your knowledge or experience, offer advice if you think it’ll be welcomed, or refer them to other resources or people you think may help them. People will do the same for you, and it’s in this sharing of experiences and knowledge that understanding is formed and connections are made.

Having been the billy-no-mates person at business conferences on a couple of occasions, I know what a dreadful feeling it is. So if you see someone walk in to the conference canteen alone with no obvious group to sit with, or standing alone during the coffee break, why not smile and invite them to join your group. Likewise, if you’re the one alone, don’t be afraid to approach a friendly looking group and simply say, ‘I’m by myself – do you mind if I join you?’

Don’t skip meals and coffee breaks

There may be times when you’ll feel like running back to your room for a quiet lie-down or to catch up on your emails, instead of facing the canteen or coffee stand. Try to fight that feeling and battle through! It’s not a long conference, and you can catch up when you get home (though I do recognise that for some of the more introverted, those quiet times alone are what get them through the entire conference).

In my experience, a lot of the nuts and bolts of networking happens during the meal and coffee breaks, drinks receptions, etc. It’s often during these that new friendships are formed, some of the most valuable discussions take place and ideas are shared – so mingle, mingle, mingle!

Carry business cards with you

While some people feel business cards are becoming obsolete, I believe they’re still a valuable networking tool. When you meet someone at the conference whom you find interesting and friendly, someone you’d like to connect with professionally or socially, then ask for their business card and offer yours in return. Try not to stick the card in your pocket or folder immediately; take a moment to look at the details on it and ask any questions you might have about the person’s work, etc. It may feel really awkward at first, but the more you offer your business card and ask for one, the easier it gets.

Follow up when you get home

There will probably be colleagues and speakers whom you would like to stay in contact with after the conference. When you get home dig out their business cards, or find their details on the lists in your conference pack, wait a day or two and then connect with them online through social media. LinkedIn is a good medium for the more professional-level connections, Facebook for the more friendly and sociable connections, while Twitter is a good catch-all tool. If the person in question doesn’t have a social media account, you could send a ‘lovely-to-meet-you-and-let’s-stay-in-touch’ email instead.

When sending a LinkedIn connection request, personalise the message and refer to your interaction at the conference. If you think you can be of help to the person, mention this in your message. During the conference, perhaps you’ll promise a colleague you’ll share something with them – a contract template, for example, or a link to a helpful blog post. If you do, ensure you follow up after the conference and send the promised item. Likewise, if someone promises you something similar but forgets to send it, don’t be afraid to connect online and follow up.

I found my editorial tribe online; meeting so many of them in person at the conference last year felt like returning home. The conference is a wonderful experience, and while networking online is great, networking in person is even better. Best of luck to all my colleagues heading to editorial conferences in the coming months. Unfortunately, I can’t attend this year but I’ll be with you in spirit (and via the conference Twitter hashtags)!

MaryBased in Wexford, Ireland, Mary McCauley is a freelance proofreader and copy-editor working with publishers, corporate clients and independent fiction authors. She is a professional member of the SfEP and a member of the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers (AFEPI) in Ireland. She helps run the AFEPI Twitter account and also blogs sporadically at Letters from an Irish Editor. Connect with Mary on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Collaborate and innovate

Every year, the SfEP conference has a theme – a title intended to give a flavour of the programme that delegates can look forward to, and perhaps even capture something of the editorial zeitgeist.

It may not be iSfEPSIswirlmmediately obvious how freelance editorial professionals collaborate. We are often seen as a disparate collection of solitary workers, tapping away in front of our screens with only the cat or dog for company … ‘collaboration’ might not be the first word that comes to mind. But no editor is an island: we choose to form networks of friendly colleagues, both informally and through more structured local group meetings; we belong to professional associations such as the SfEP; we interact online, in forums and via social media. And when it comes to our work, even if we meet clients and colleagues relatively rarely, we are usually an intrinsic part of a much larger team of individuals with different areas of expertise bringing each project to fruition together.

In this spirit of collaboration, 2015 marks the first joint conference of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and the Society of Indexers. We are two societies with much in common, and indeed some membership overlap. Our members are all concerned with organising text. However, perhaps it will turn out to be the differences between the work we do as editors and indexers that prove most interesting. It’ll be fun finding out!

Christine Vaughan, the SfEP’s conference director, and Ann Kingdom, the SI chair, had this to say about what collaboration means in the context of the 2015 conference programme:

This year’s conference programme offers a number of opportunities to reflect on your collaboration with others, from understanding how indexing fits into the editorial process to exploring how to build your client base and maintain good client relationships. For example, in ‘Both sides of the self-publishing coin’, Clare Christian and Hattie Holden Edmonds will explore, amongst other things, the idea of ‘collaboration not competition’ as a means of enabling the independent author to find the right people to work with.

Sessions looking at the technological changes affecting journal publishing, how the production process can be adapted to take into new working practices and product formats, and how the roles of the editor and indexer are likely to develop in the future will, we hope, mean you leave the conference enthused and informed about the future of publishing. Or you could come away inspired to diversify on a more personal level, by getting to grips with social media marketing, becoming an SfEP mentor or using digital tools to streamline your working practice.

 But in with the new needn’t mean out with the old – we have several sessions on perennial topics, such as ‘Finance for freelances’ and a workshop on Word, while Paul Johnson will give a presentation on ‘The magic of the movable book’, proving that you can still make something new and different from paper.

Meanwhile innovation – introducing something new; making changes or alterations – comes from a base of solid knowledge and depends on an environment in which new ideas can germinate and grow. The conference represents a CPD injection of the kind that is simply not available to us for the rest of the year, with the chance to listen to a range of expert speakers, and take part in different workshops and seminars each day, as well as other activities and events such as the gala dinner. Past delegates have testified to the intense learning experience that takes place over the course of two and a half days:

What I didn’t perhaps expect was the openness and warmth which greeted me … continuing right the way through the conference. I learned a lot from the seminars and workshops, but so much more from my new colleagues, who were without fail willing to share their experience and make suggestions that I might like to follow up to boost my business.

Think of it as worth several days of training courses, useful tips galore, a confidence boost, dozens of useful contacts and probably several new firm friends.

The conference is also an unmatched opportunity simply to talk to colleagues. New entrants to the profession can pick the brains of veterans, and the other way round. Although we are in competition for work, in so many ways building relationships with other professionals can make us stronger and improve our chances of staying the course.

Recent conference themes have looked at the idea of change, and response to that change: A new publishing landscape (2013); Editing: fit for purpose (2014). All industries change over time, and ours is no different. We’ve seen a huge rise in self-publishing, a sector rich with opportunities for editors keen to work closely with independent authors; open access has altered the landscape of journal publishing; our clients continue to ask us to grapple with new software, mark-up languages and workflow tools; the outsourcing and offshoring of a range of editorial tasks continues to shape the market. Perhaps how we respond to these changes, and others, is one of the most important factors in determining our success and professional longevity.

So if last year’s conference was about responding to the contemporary climate, this year’s is about looking forward, and effectively stealing the march on what may come to challenge us professionally. In a marketplace in which we may feel at the mercy of time pressures, economic forces and client demands, it is empowering to consider how we can take back control and help our businesses thrive.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The 2015 SI/SfEP conference, Collaborate and innovate, takes place from 5–7 September at Derwent College in York.

For more information, and to book, see the SfEP website.

Posted by Liz Jones, SfEP marketing and PR director.

Proofread by SfEP entry-level member Karen Pickavance.