When I heard that the North East Editors were organising a one-day SfEP mini-conference in Newcastle, I was very tempted. The train journey from Essex would be relatively easy, with an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn. On the morning of the conference, I headed to the venue – the stunning Royal Station Hotel – adjacent to the railway station. Victoria Suite was sumptuous and spacious for the 68 delegates.
An interesting variety of sessions had been planned. They were:
- Marketing your editing business, with Denise Cowle
- The changing world of academic publishing, with Matt Deacon (from Wearset)
- Ministry of (Business) Training (MO(B)T), with Melissa Middleton
- Efficient editing – how to make the most of your fee, with Hester Higton
- Panel discussion: Navigating a course in publishing, chaired by Luke Finley, with Sarah Wray, Debbie Taylor, Alex Niven.
Eleanor Abraham (@EBAeditorial) wrote excellent summaries in her live tweeting throughout all the sessions. I have relied on some of her tweets for accuracy.
Marketing your editing business
Denise is the SfEP marketing director and she belongs to the Content Marketing Academy. Some of her points included:
- It’s important to make the shift from ‘freelance’ to ‘business owner’.
- Have a website. Your website is yours to do with what you want.
- Be brave and network with colleagues.
- Like, comment and share content from colleagues.
- Be helpful and demonstrate your knowledge.
- Add value. Give away brilliant free stuff on your website (be like Louise Harnby, the room chorused!).
Time for coffee and CAKE!
The changing world of academic publishing
Next, Matt Deacon, the project manager at Wearset (one of the conference sponsors), talked about the pressures that publishers are against. Pressures from profit-driven markets, the internet, expectations on speed of delivery, globalisation and increased competition. He asked if artificial intelligence is going to take our jobs. No. Context, style and subtlety of language need the human element. Automation tools (such as PerfectIt) can carry out mundane tasks and reduce the time taken to edit, leaving us to focus on language and sense. Matt suggested how to future-proof editing: spot change, embrace and innovate, and spearhead development. Another thought was, how can we as editors encourage standardisation of templates among publishers? He suggested that the SfEP has a role to play in encouraging cleaner formats for editing by sharing discussions between publisher and author clients.
Ministry of (Business) Training
The third session, with Melissa Middleton, was lively. She runs Project North East, promoting enterprise. In groups, we listed all the ways we do daily CPD … what? It turns out we do quite a lot, especially if we use the SfEP forums. One activity had us listing our top skill on a sticky note placed on a poster of collective skills, then listing a weakness to improve on another sticky note for a second poster. By the end we had created a ‘Skill Swap Shop’ to be shared. Very simple and effective. Melissa finished by sharing a useful Interactive CPD Toolkit.
After lunch, Hester’s session was fascinating, if intensive. Our task was to judge what can and can’t be done in a job when clients are cutting costs and driving down schedules. Given non-fiction texts to discuss and prepare for copy-edit, we analysed each brief and project.
Hester’s tips on efficient editing were:
- What essential work must be done within budget and by the deadline?
- Know what your key priorities are and stick to them.
- Use clean-up routines, keep track of the project and analyse when finished for timings and cost.
Navigating a course in publishing
The last session was a panel discussion chaired by Luke Finley. On the panel were Sarah Wray, Debbie Taylor and Alex Niven. Some questions from the delegates for discussion were:
- How do editors deal with …?
- How have you tackled a ‘muscular’ (*top* word of the conference) or heavy editing job with an author?
- When do you get time to work on your own novel when you are an editor and enjoy writing?
All in all
Mini or one-day conferences are valuable for a variety of reasons.
- Lasting only a day means they are not expensive in terms of time or money.
- Their location may be nearer to you than the main SfEP annual conference.
- They present more regular networking opportunities than waiting for the annual conference.
- Participants are eligible for upgrade points.
After the surprise raffle, the final (unofficial) session headed to a nearby bar for drinks, which I had to miss in order to catch a train. But bravo and cheers to the NE Editors, especially Kia Thomas, for a valuable day!
Annie Deakins was a primary teacher in Essex for 30 years before retraining as a proofreader three years ago. An Intermediate Member of the SfEP, she runs Proofnow Proofreader. Connect with her on LinkedIn. She tutors primary children, edits her local parish magazine and blogs as #TallTartanTells.
Check out all the tweets from and about the day: #SfEPNEConf
The annual SfEP Conference takes place in Birmingham this year, on 14–16 September – booking is still open!
Proofread by Victoria Hunt, Entry-Level Member.
Posted by Abi Saffrey, SfEP blog coordinator.
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.