If you want to be a successful freelance editor or writer, you should go to a conference. It’s the best way to meet others in the industry and make connections with potential clients or future partners. But how do you know which conferences are worth going to?
There are a lot of different ways to figure out which conferences are best to attend, and one of those ways is by word of mouth. What conferences have other editors attended that they found useful? What workshops have writers attended where they learned about the craft?
If you’re looking for writing conferences, the waters are varied and deep, ranging across the spectrum of genres. But as far as I’m aware there aren’t as many editing conferences, which is one of the reasons I was so excited to attend PENCON in Atlanta, Georgia, this May.
Writing vs. Editing
I am a writer first. That’s my first passion and my best skill, but I’m also an editor. An editor has to hone the ability to look at someone else’s writing and spot the inconsistencies, the errors, and the holes. And while I’m more of a line editor and proofreader than anything else, getting the chance to spend some time with really talented editors was an awesome opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.
Granted, I didn’t meet any other editors at PENCON who work in the plumbing and heating industry, but I did bump into several technical editors. I met a ghostwriter. I got some awesome perspective from a novelist who taught on the relationship between editors and writers. And much much more!
The keynote speaker, Cecil Murphey, was one of the highlights of PENCON for me. This gentlemen has accomplished so much in his lifetime, yet he’s so humble and kind and generous. He’s also awfully funny. He had so much knowledge to share about being a ghostwriter for celebrities (like Ben Carson and John Piper), but he also had tremendous, uplifting words about being a writer in general.
A Realm Makers Reunion
The next most awesome thing for me was getting to catch up with some buddies from the Realm Makers conference I attend every year. Realm Makers is probably the high point of my year every year, getting to hang out with other geeks and nerds who love writing. So it was unbelievably cool to meet up with these beautiful ladies, and it was incredibly satisfying to be able to crack Doctor Who jokes and have someone get the reference!
Hands down the best sessions I went to were on website security, taught by Don Catlett. This guy knows his stuff, and he had wonderful information to pass on about how to make sure your website is as secure as you can make it. I took tons of notes!
Beyond everyone else, it was just a truly encouraging time with fellow Christ-followers who are dedicated to helping others tell the best stories possible. I’ve been to conferences where I’ve made “conference friends” before, and that’s wonderful too. “Conference Friends” are great because you can add them into your professional network and expand your reach as a freelancer.
But the people I met at PENCON weren’t just conference friends; they are real friends. These are people who I feel like I’ve known for years, even though I only met them a few weeks ago. These are people I would ask for help, for prayer, for encouragement and direction. Seriously, PENCON felt like a family, and I was so privileged to be there.
I also received some pretty startling confirmation about a project I’ve been working on in the background for about a month. You’ll be seeing more about this project soon, The Creative Techie. But finding so many people who were interested and supportive of this exciting project really lit my fire, and I can’t wait to get started!
Not every conference is created equal, and you want to make sure you do your research before you attend, especially if it costs you a pretty penny to go. But if you’re a freelance editor looking for a way to enhance your business, your web presence, or your client base, PENCON is an event you don’t want to miss.
You can get more information at The Christian PEN or the Christian Editor Connection, and don’t forget the amazing educational opportunities through the PEN Institute. Next year’s conference is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, so start saving your pennies now!