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Sue Archer

Confessions of a Conference Buddy (Coordinator)

Photo by Sue Archer

I remember when I signed up for my first Editors Canada conference back in 2014. At the time, I’d never held the job title of “editor,” but after years of working in jobs where I’d managed to feed my need to wrangle with words, I’d come to realize it was the role I’d been living all along. I was excited to meet other people with the same word-nerdy interests — to learn from them and hopefully make some new friends, ones who wouldn’t roll their eyes at my passion for punctuation.

But I was also terrified. I didn’t know a single person who worked in book publishing. I had no idea who was going to be there, or whether we would have anything in common. I pictured myself smiling stiffly at the outside edge of a group conversation, having nothing to contribute as some experienced full-time editor laughingly related some anecdote I just wouldn’t get. What if they thought I wasn’t a real editor? What if I spent the whole conference feeling nervous and uncomfortable?

Then I found out about the conference buddies program. It was like the conference organizers had read my mind. Here was an opportunity for me to meet some other conference-goers ahead of time, in a way that appealed to my introverted self. The conference buddies coordinator would do all the managing to put everyone into small groups and introduce everyone through email. All I had to do was share a few things about myself in writing, and then our buddy group lead would help us figure out how we wanted to meet up at the conference.

As I read everyone’s introductions, I realized that not everyone attending the conference was from book publishing. In fact, most of us did other types of word-related work. We were a mix of newbie and more experienced editors, coming from different locations, but we already had one thing in common — we were conference buddies!

Knowing my buddies would be there gave me the confidence I needed. I had people to sit with in sessions and chat with over lunch. That didn’t mean we all stuck to each other like glue — we did branch out and do other things — but we had a starting point, and I know it made all the difference in the world to me.

Now I’m going to my fourth conference. This time it’s in Ottawa, a city I’m completely unfamiliar with. But that hasn’t stopped me. I’ve even stepped up my game. Because this time I’m the one who’s become the conference buddies coordinator, so I can help foster those connections that made my first Editors Canada conference such a welcoming place.

If you’re excited about going to the conference, but would love it even more if you had some buddies at your back, I know exactly how you feel. And I can help! Just send me a note, and I’ll take care of the rest!

See you soon,


The Editors Canada Conference 2017 will be held in Ottawa-Gatineau June 9-11, 2017. The deadline for registration is May 29.


Previous post from Sue Archer: Review: The Complete Canadian Book Editor by Leslie Vermeer.

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