Just this past weekend, we had colleagues at editing conferences in Rochester NY; Bedfordshire, England; and Brisbane, Australia. This year there were also conferences in Queensland, Edinburgh, Portland, Seattle, Kenmore, Barcelona, and Ottawa (Gatineau). After reading my note about attending one, a publisher I worked for replied “oh, I didn’t know there were editing conferences.” (Which illustrates one of the more insular effects of working in-house for 20 years.)
The truth is, if it exists, there is a conference for it.
What does this mean for you, the professional editor in search of continuing professional development (PD or CPD)? It means opportunities to cross-train in other English-speaking lands, to expose yourself to editors outside your workplace, and to write off some or all of the costs of travel. (Probably. Talk to your accountant.)
Editing conferences tend to be more affordable than other professional conferences where employers are footing the bill. (Refer to marketing, science, or medical conferences for really pricey examples.) That puts editing conferences in reach for a great number of freelancers. They also tend not to pay their speakers. So, while you might choose to gain exposure and increase the value of attending by being a speaker, the financial outlay will be about the same as attending.
This site has many articles full of advice on getting the most out of a conference, so here we are going to talk about how to choose. When it seems possible to spend half of your working life attending editing conferences around the world, even if you have unlimited funds, you’re going to have to make a choice.
Questions to Ask When Picking a Conference
- Which association is putting it on?
- Does it concern a particular niche you’re keen on?
- Is there a location you’d like to write off a trip to?
- Is there a location where you can board with a friend?
- Is one location nearby?
- What is the registration cost?
- Are there discounts for members or for members of other editing organizations?
- Who is speaking at the conference?
- Are the presentations particularly interesting?
- Who tends to attend the conference? Are the editors primarily working in journalism, in trade publishing, or corporate circles, for example.
- Is the conference small or large? Both have advantages.
- Where will some of your favorite online acquaintances be?
Since you are going to have to book travel and accommodation before the conference lineup is announced, examine lineups from past years. Many conferences post videos from previous years, and maintain web pages listing the speakers. While past years do not guarantee the coming experience, it is the best indication we’ve got.
When you discover the conference hashtag, search it on social media to find out what attendees were saying. Some niches are less likely to post to social media, and that might also be a good indicator of where you’ll fit best.