Going from a writer’s conference the end of March to an editors’ conference the beginning of May was drastic. But you know what? I enjoyed both! Call me weird. I accept that descriptor. Gladly.
Gearing up for an editors’ conference is much like gearing up for a writers’ conference. You plan your sessions, choose the editors you’ll make appointments with, and you continue to grow in the craft—yes, craft—of editing, proofreading, formatting, or whatever form of editing you’re known for.
I’ll admit, the atmosphere is not like a writers’ conference. While the atmosphere at a writers’ conference is all about excited dialogue with others about your story, the atmosphere at an editors’ conference is all about excited dialogue about . . . um, well, grammar. And the rules of what makes good editing that shapes a really good book. Think it’s boring? Well, perhaps you might. But I thoroughly enjoyed being with my #grammar nerds and Chicago Manual of Style lovers.
For you writers, you may ask: What do editors talk about?
And to that an editor says, We talk about words, standard editing rules, our authors (it’s all good! We love helping our authors excel and we always find better ways to help them grow as writers), books that meet the expectations of great writing, and we talk about the style books. The manuals. Kinda boring, you might think, especially if you aren’t a word nerd, but not so because we attend editing conferences to help our authors exceed.
It’s a huge circle, this publishing industry. Each piece has an important part. The marketer helps the author, the publisher helps the reader, the editor helps the agent, the author helps the editor . . . do you see? We all support each other. And we all work very hard to produce good quality reading material and get it into the hands of hungry readers.
So . . . what did editors do at PENCON?
We drank gallons and gallons of coffee.
And we listened to and learned from Robert Hudson, author of The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, deliver poignant lessons on how to be listening editors for our authors and beyond.
We toured Our Daily Bread, a ministry that’s been around since the 1930s. If you’ve never been, you should visit!
Just like writers attend writing sessions, we attended editing sessions. We learned new ways to organize our comments when editing our authors’ manuscripts and learned the importance of copyediting and what it really means to fight for each word or not at all. We explored how a book is made and what that means for the publishing industry. We laughed about editing mistakes and how to handle those hard feedback comments with grace. We learned the ins and outs of The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
Yes. There was an entire session devoted to a style manual. Not just any style manual, but THE editors’ Bible across the Christian publishing industry. (Other types of publishing have their own “Bible” and may not refer to CMS as their top resource.)
We drank more coffee and had delicious snacks. We recommended books to each other—fiction, nonfiction, style guides and manuals, writing craft books, and editing craft books and online courses and editing networks to join.
We asked questions of and listened to a publishing industry panel share their thoughts about the direction of the industry, what their houses publish, and how publishers can work with freelancers (editors) in a more cooperative and encouraging manner.
We learned how to help our authors market their books better. Yes, Indie Authors, we’ve got your back whenever you have any random marketing question! And some freelance editors are also book marketers or social media consultants.
Overall, I had a wonderful time, reconnecting with friends and meeting new friends. And like writers meeting writers, editors meeting editors seek to make friendships for a lifetime. You never know how you may help someone you met at a writers’ conference, and vice versa.
And to top it off, as the assistant director of PENCON, it was super rewarding to work with Director Jenne Acevedo and to see all our hard work pay off. To see everyone enjoying themselves, learning, networking, talking about words—brought such a smile to my face. PENCON 2018 was the fifth year for a conference for professional editors. And to see it grow is so much like watering a seed and watching it grow into a rosebush.
That’s why editors attend an editors’ conference. We want to learn more about the craft of editing so we can see words and writers grow, as well as see readers grow. And learn. And love. And laugh. And encourage.
Yes. That’s our wonderful publishing industry.