For editors, industry conferences are like chicken soup for the soul. Editing can be a lonely profession, but combining learning with camaraderie is a spirit-boosting elixir.
Many of us are still brimming with ideas and newfound confidence following June’s 2017 Editors Canada conference in Gatineau. Such learning and networking need not stop with membership in Editors Canada, though. When travelling to another country, check with its association of editors to see if you can attend a conference or workshop. I did while visiting Edinburgh, Scotland, this past spring to see family, and struck gold.
Presentations with cross-border appeal
The United Kingdom’s Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) happened to be having a one-day Scottish mini-conference in early May at the ethereal City of Edinburgh Methodist Church. At £40 (less than $70), the event was a steal. The day’s marquee sessions featured University of Edinburgh linguistics professor Geoff Pullum and U.S. author and editor Laura Poole, co-owner of editorial training site Copyediting.com.
Pullum’s take on language usage was refreshingly contemporary: “You’ve got to make what you’re editing sound like sensible language of 2017, not from the early 1900s.” Books to avoid included Fowler’s Modern English Usage (“too old and idiosyncratic”), and “books to burn” featured, among others, The Elements of Style (“vapid and silly”). On the other hand, Merriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage and Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style were reference book favourites for the professor. But consulting handbooks alone is not enough, he stressed. To find answers to language dilemmas, editors need to do factual investigation, something Pullum demonstrated with Google searches substantiating popular language usage.
Poole, an exuberant and entertaining speaker, delivered savvy tips for growing your freelance business. (Those who attended her Freelancing 201: Level Up! workshop at this year’s Editors Canada conference can attest to that.) Consider doubling your rates, amp up productivity with time management software like Tomato Timer and think of value-added services to fatten your revenues. The latter includes creating broadly appealing workshops that you could present, for a fee, at all kinds of conferences.
Other tips came in SfEP member Ashley Craig’s talk on Word macros. In addition to PerfectIt, a growing favourite of many editors, two other handy editing and proofing tools are ToolKit PLUS 2014 from The Editorium and wordsnSync software with EditTools Version 8 datasets.
New discounts for Editors Canada and SfEP members
Learning how associations manage their affairs differently is instructive, too. For example, attending the mini-conference provided two points toward a continuing professional development score. That score can count toward an application to upgrade one’s SfEP membership to intermediate, professional or advanced professional level.
Thanks to a new partnership between Editors Canada and SfEP, all members of both associations can now benefit from discounts for each other’s conferences and training. See the members’ area of the Editors Canada website for details. And remember — the next time you’re travelling abroad, think about exploring a conference, too.
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