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PENCON 2018: Grand Rapids, Michigan

2018 Conference Review_ for editors by editors

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.

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6 thoughts on “PENCON 2018: Grand Rapids, Michigan

  1. Tisha, while this was a fun read, there was one section that really resonated with me. That was the section in which you described the publishing industry circle. I have long believed that my book is not really “my” book. Yes, I wrote the initial contents, but it is more “our” book than it is mine. So many hands and minds touched that work. The circle! I am just one piece of that circle. Perhaps a more substantial piece than, say, the artist who designed the cover, but without that artist, there would be no cover. Or the typesetter, or the editor, or the marketing department. It’s our book! It just has my name on it.

    1. Damon, absolutely! It would have taken me at least 200 words to name every single piece of the publishing puzzle, so thanks for chiming in here about the designers too!

  2. Tisha, I admire anyone who can master the complexities of Chicago Style, but you certainly got my attention calling the Chicago Manual of Style “THE editors’ Bible across the entire publishing industry”! Under just one of my writer/editor caps do I use Chicago Style–a newspaper column. All my other writing and editing is done in the academic side of “the publishing industry” and academics I know do not use Chicago Style. Virtually all the professional journals in which I’ve been published and my clients use require APA, and writing a journal article in AMA was part one client’s requirements for her PhD in nursing from Duke. Two clients earning doctorates in a blended online and residency program from a university in Australia are required to use Australia’s nationally-adopted Style manual (minimal capitalization, so not even “manual” in the book title is capitalized). Academics definitely consider ourselves part of the publishing industry, too, even though we don’t use Chicago Style.

    1. Linda, thanks for pointing that out. Yes, while the publishing industry is huge, and each entity uses their own style guide (APA, MLA, AMA, Turabian, etc.), I believe I was mainly referring to the Christian book publishing industry. However, I will edit my article to reflect that. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Wonderful job and summary, Tisha!!!

    1. Thanks, Marilyn! And it was great to see you again!

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