February 11, 2011

“Hi I’m…” Developing a Professional Peer Network

Hi all,
Happy Friday!

OK, I’ve come down off my soapbox of earlier this week.

But in my last post, I wanted to cover volunteering in our professional community not only because most of these organizations are continually in need of help, but also because I’ve found that joining and becoming actively involved in professional groups are one terrific way for freelancers to develop a solid peer network.

Developing such a network can not only provide you with a community to toss questions and ideas out to others with similar (or more) experiences; it can also land you referrals and work partnerships. It does numerous times a year for me.

I cover this topic in my online class, The Business of Freelance Developmental Editing, because especially in conversations with new editors, I find that many often first think that a job board is the main reason to join a professional group. Indeed it often seems that a peer network alone is an overlooked tool in our editors’ toolbox. Why?

Well, it’s not always easy. Many freelance editors don’t know where to meet others in the field. Here in Seattle, we have the Northwest Independent Editors Guild, where you can become a member, and the Author-Editor Clinic, where you can take classes, and where many students keep in touch afterward. But I’ve had students from other cities (Boston!) as well as smaller towns like Ashland, Oregon, who have had a lot difficulty meeting peers.

So, where to start? At the national level, many freelance editors join the Editorial Freelancers Association (www.the-efa.org), a large group based in New York, but with some regional meetings as well. You can also look for a regional editors group, like the NWIEG, or San Francisco’s Bay Area Editors Forum (www.editorsforum.org).  

Classes and workshops are also a terrific avenue. I met most of my current peer network several years ago when I was new to town and enrolled in the University of Washington’s yearlong Editing Certificate program (www.pce.uw.edu). While much of the material wasn’t new to me, the time and money I spent on the classes was worth it for the sheer amount of editors I metmany of whom have passed my name along to potential clients, or invited me to help on a project. (And I’ve done the same, of course.) Bottom line: people want to work with and recommend people they know.

Others have tried attending book fests or book readings, retreats, or even meeting others online through meetups and blogs.

I'd love to hear more ideas. Where do you meet other editors?


  1. I think if you're looking for referrals and editing work, besides peer networking, networking with those who are writing is your best idea. Ways to do that could be attending organizations where the writers attend. In Seattle, you might attend SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), Pacific Northwest Writers Association Meetings, or RWA (Romance Writers--Seattle or Eastside). You might consider presenting a workshop with tips for writers about editing manuscripts at one of the organization's conferences. You'll be networking with writers, many of whom, very well may hire you to do freelance editing.

  2. I think Mindy's suggestion is a great idea. My background in networking is very similar to Karalynn's -- a year in the editing certificate program, then networking through the Editors Guild and by volunteering with Guild projects.

    To branch out, in 2010, I attended several science fiction and fantasy conventions. I had a great time. And although I thought I might network with writers, in fact I spent even more time chatting with other editors. We editors do tend to like to talk shop, I've noticed.

    I'm also interested in meeting graphic designers, book designers, and other people who help authors self-publish. I've done some of this through Biznik events (www.biznik.com) and also started having coffee with graphic designers to hear about their work with writers. This last, of course, was not my idea but the idea of a fellow editor I met through the Editors Guild. And I'm looking forward to hearing more ideas here!

  3. There was nowhere in NI specifically to meet other writers and editors, so I'm starting ScribeTribe: http://www.facebook.com/ScribeTribe, a business and professional writers' network.

  4. Great ideas, all. This was going to be my next post: networking with potential clients...thanks for the input!

  5. Glad to hear you're going to address this, Kara. I'm always happy to talk to writers who are considering professional editing -- even if I'm not the right fit. But I do find myself unsure sometimes how to contribute to a conversation about writing among writers, such as at a convention or writers workshop. I hope Mindy and Dawn will stick around for the conversation!

  6. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!