How to Build Community with Other Editors

Editing can be a lonely profession. The number of in-house editing positions has declined in recent years, and more and more editors are working as freelancers. This means editors spend a lot of time at home, toiling away in Track Changes with only Merriam-Webster and The Chicago Manual of Style for company. But although editors are a notoriously introverted bunch, we all stand to benefit from a little social connection. What happens when you run into a truly perplexing problem—be it a difficult client or a questionable comma—and you need to turn to other editors for advice? Where can editors go to receive mentoring and to swap war stories? This post outlines some of the ways in which editors can connect with each other—virtually as well as in person—in order to grow as professionals and build a sense of community.

Social Media
Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to connect with other editors is through social media. Joining online editors’ groups will enable you to tap into vast networks of editors from all over the world—many of whom are sitting at home alone, faces illuminated by the bluish glow of their computer screens, just like you! There are various Facebook groups specifically for editors, the most prominent of which is probably the Editors’ Association of Earth. Boasting over ten thousand members, this robust online community includes various forums and subgroups where editors of all stripes come together to share tips and tools, ask each other for advice, vent their professional frustrations, and have a good chuckle over language-related jokes and memes.

It’s also a good idea to maintain an active presence on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, which allow you to follow other editors and publishing professionals and maintain a solid network. (It’s worth noting here that Merriam-Webster has an insightful, entertaining, and often combative Twitter presence—all editors should follow this sassy dictionary.)

Editors’ Associations and Guilds
While communities on social media are fun and free to take part in, editors should also consider joining professional associations. These usually cost money to join, but the benefits are often worth it. One of the major editors’ associations is ACES: The Society for Editing, which hosts an annual conference (although the 2020 conference was sadly canceled due to COVID-19) and offers membership benefits that include a free listing in a freelancer directory, access to the society’s quarterly journal, and discounts on editing-related conferences, publications, and tools. Membership costs $75 a year for regular members and $40 a year for students.

Another organization to consider joining is the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). The cost of membership with the EFA is steeper: $145 a year (or $260 for two years), plus an initial processing fee of $35. However, the EFA does offer some valuable perks, like discounts on editing courses, access to the EFA job list, and—in some regions—discounts on healthcare.

And then there are local editors’ associations, which offer more opportunities to get to know local editors and network face-to-face. For example, editors based in the Pacific Northwest might consider joining the Northwest Editors Guild. Membership costs $65 a year, and benefits include access to an online job board, local networking happy hours, and mentoring sessions with more experienced editors.

Conferences
Another great way to meet editors, writers, and publishing professionals is to attend conferences. In addition to the annual ACES conference, there are a variety of editing- and publishing-related conferences held across the U.S. every year (pandemics notwithstanding). These include large-scale national conferences like AWP, along with smaller local conferences like those hosted by PubWest and Willamette Writers.

In Conclusion
No matter what kind of editor you are, you’re never alone! By reaching out to other editors through social media, professional associations, and conferences, you can grow your professional network and develop a support system of like-minded word nerds.

Portfolio Tips for Beginners

Once upon a time, maintaining your portfolio meant taking hard copies to an interview or attaching them with your application. However, today most publishing employers prefer portfolio websites so they don’t have to worry about hanging on to (or worse, losing) the multitudes of work they receive from each candidate.

But those of you who haven’t spent much time coding or building websites are likely wondering: Where do I begin? Well, look no further. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Choose the right website builder for you.
    This is perhaps the most daunting decision for people new to website creation. Consider easiness versus functionality. How much do you want your website to be able to do? Sites like Weebly and Wix are easy for beginners to use but don’t have as many features. Squarespace is frequently chosen by people who want to display lots of images. And then there is WordPress. While this platform tends to take a little bit longer to learn, the sky’s the limit. With basic coding, you can customize your site endlessly. If you don’t code, WordPress includes hundreds of thousands of free plug-ins that will do the work for you. Tyton Media has an excellent article that breaks down the strengths of all four so you can decide which is best for you.
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  3. Tell employers about yourself.
    Portfolio websites are an opportunity for a potential employer or client to learn more about you. Keep an updated copy of your resume on your portfolio site, along with a basic description of your abilities. In addition, include a bio and a decent professional headshot. You want anyone who visits your site to get a sense of who you are and what you can do.
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  5. Create an appealing design and watch out for typos.
    This is a no-brainer. Clients will be turned off if all of your text is lime green, particularly if you are looking for a job as a cover designer. Similarly, an obvious typo in a copyeditor’s portfolio is a surefire way to make an employer toss an application in the garbage. At the same time, your personality should be reflected in the design choices and descriptions that you put on your site. After all, you want to find employers or clients who mesh with your goals and style.
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  7. Make certain your website looks good on a phone.
    Let’s face it: when you’re on the go, it’s easier to pull out your phone and look something up than it is to use your laptop. As such, it’s important that your website looks just as amazing on a tiny screen as it does on a bigger one. Sometimes the theme that you choose looks great on a laptop, but hasn’t been designed to scale to a smaller screen. If this is the case, then you will either need to add code like this to your site, use plug-ins that do the coding for you, or choose a different theme.
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  9. Plan how you want to show your examples.
    If you are an artist who owns the rights to your work, then you can display your art directly on your website without issue. For others, however, there are issues of copyright to consider. You will have an angry author on your hands if you post their book online where anyone can look at it for free. You have to get a little bit more creative with how potential employers or clients can access your samples. Always make certain you have permission from the author or publisher to give employers samples. To ensure that a sample is only accessed by approved individuals, consider offering to email samples upon request. Another option is to put the samples on your site but use a plug-in that password protects them so that only people with the login can access them. You can also put the samples on Google Drive and post a link from your site to the Drive files so employers can request access.
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  11. Use resources if you get stuck.
    If you choose a website builder that fits your needs, creating your own online portfolio isn’t all that difficult. WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are all designed to be easy for beginners to learn. Should you ever find yourself stuck, there are a wide variety of videos and blog posts to help you.

Designing your portfolio need not be stressful. In fact, picking colors, typefaces, and pictures can be a lot of fun once you get past your initial anxieties. Although you want to make certain you create a professional-looking site, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun while you create it. As long as you take the time to figure out what you need out of your portfolio website, you can create something you will be proud to show off.