2018 State of the Guild

December 2018

By Pm Weizenbaum

Note: Pm delivered this message at our annual potluck on October 7. Her term as board president ends on December 31, 2018.

Pm Weizenbaum

Pm Weizenbaum, 2018 Guild President

Hello! My name is Pm Weizenbaum, and I’m president of the Northwest Editors Guild. Thank you all for coming and for contributing to this year’s potluck, our eighteenth (although we’re now twenty-one years old, so drink up). It’s great to see so many familiar and new faces here.

I joined the Editors Guild about seven years ago, to get the member discount on Red Pencil 2011. When I was a new member—didn’t know anyone, feeling shy and unconfident—I used to experience the Guild as a sort of theatrical troupe, with member meetings as the bimonthly performances, and the Red Pencil conference as the star-studded gala event.

By joining the board, I got to step behind the curtain and learn about all the backstage activity that goes on in support of our members. One of the very first things I learned about the board was that each one of these people takes our mission to heart, weighing decisions against these words:

“The Northwest Editors Guild connects writers with professional editors of the written word in the Pacific Northwest. We also foster community among our members and provide resources for their career development.”

As president for this year, I’ve had the privilege of being “guest director” for eleven bright, engaged, and funny board members. In place of set design, lighting, and costume staff, much of our work is done in committees: Operations, Board Development, Programming, Communications, with the Executive committee providing a supporting role overall. And as a group, the board votes on larger decisions affecting the membership, as well as putting on our potluck and other special events.

Keep in mind that the board consists of volunteers—working editors who are busy building businesses, or working full time in-house, and sometimes even both—while I show you what our repertory theater has provided to our audience of 375-odd Guild members, as well as prospective members, clients, and even the broader national editorial community in our 2018 season. I’ll describe highlights of what each of these committees has accomplished this year.

First, the Operations committee. It handles the internal nuts and bolts.

  • Talk to our dedicated administrator Jen Grogan about these unsung essentials.
    Most visible to you was moving our email list from an increasingly obstinate Yahoo to Google Groups.
  • This committee includes our treasurer, who this year has helped the board develop a more strategic budgeting process, and craft banking and investment policies regarding Guild assets.
    —Curious? Talk to Michael Schuler.

And the Board Development committee:

  • In another behind-the-scenes role, this committee of one keeps the rest of us happy in our roles and ensures that the board is well supplied with future board candidates.
    —Talk to Valerie Paquin if you’d like to hear more.

Here, some Programming committee highlights:

In addition to fine member meeting topics that the Programming committee presents, of which you’re all aware . . .

  • Over the past two years, we have held half of our meetings in South Seattle, in response to numerous requests to accommodate our more southerly Seattle-based members.
  • We’re launching a writer-editor mentorship program in the next few months.
    —Talk to Matt Bennett about this.
  • PerfectIt, the premier editorial consistency software tool, was the topic of this year’s workshop. Attendees learned how to enforce and enhance style sheets. The cost was a steal for this one-time opportunity to learn from its creator.
    —Talk to Valerie for more.

The Communications/Outreach committee achieved many highlights:

  • You may have noticed our tweaked logo; more about this in a few moments, but the design work was accomplished by board member Sue Cook.
  • We’ve placed our blog on a regular monthly schedule this year. Contributing a post is a terrific way to showcase your editorial business.
    —Talk to Karen Parkin, who is always on the alert for new content.
  • The Speakers Bureau page is now up on our website. Presenting at events is another way to spread the word about editing and to make your own presence known.
    —Talk to Jessyca Yoppolo and Polly Zetterberg.
  • As a matter of fact, right about now, Guild member Christy Karras should be just finishing up her presentation at the Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds.
  • I bet you’ve all witnessed the social media highlight of this year: the debut of our mascot, Giant Pencil, and the regular Wednesday appearance of StetPet! Designed to give editors a midweek smile, StetPet has attracted a dedicated following.
    —Talk to Jill Walters for this.
  • Our Facebook tally has reached 1,150, including many from outside our membership area! Our Twitter count is not far behind, at 930—nearly one-third of those in the last six months alone. All credit for that increase goes to Giant Pencil, who has made appearances at major national editing events and hosted the Editors of Earth Twitter account for a week in July.
  • Another social newcomer is the Oregon/Southwest Washington Facebook page. Is that why we’ve seen a surge in Oregon memberships this year?
    —Again, talk to Jill Walters.
  • Speaking of Oregon, we tried something new as part of our outreach energy there: We sponsored an editorial retreat on the Oregon coast just last weekend, organized by Portland members. We’re hoping this can be a self-sustaining event in the future.
    —Talk to Alison Cantrell and Julie Swearingen via email, because they’re in Portland. [Editor’s note: Alison was recently voted in as a 2019-2021 board member.]
  • Kick-started by last year’s president, the very same Jill Walters, our outreach to writing-related conferences has been growing. Starting from no presence in 2016, we set up three exhibitor tables last year and will have staffed five by the end of this year. Next year, we hope to move into the corporate world as well.

The full board has been looking to the future:

  • Renaming. One of the first things the board did was to vote on a name change, from Northwest Independent Editors Guild. After several years of consideration, we’re having our name more accurately reflect our mission of serving all editors of the written word: we deleted “independent” and are now the Northwest Editors Guild. You’ll soon start seeing our renamed signage and promotional materials.
    —Ask Christina Johnson how many documents required updating.
  • Strategic Plan. Did you know that the board developed a strategic five-year plan in 2016? At the start of the year, we spent time analyzing it and reprioritizing. Most of our 2018 goals have already been met, with the remaining ones on target to be addressed by the end of the year.
  • We have begun creating a business plan. One of our members, Dawn Bass, is a marketing consultant as well as an editor, and she volunteered time to help us start moving from a strategic plan to a business plan. With a summer workshop by Dawn, the board began the process of sharpening our goals, adding metrics and timelines. This process will continue through 2019 and will likely include a formal marketing plan to ensure that the way we present ourselves is consistent for every audience, in every setting.
  • We also began work for Red Pencil 2019. After the board voted to return to Bastyr University for our next conference, a board subcommittee did the necessary preplanning work this summer.
    —Shout-out to Betsy Berger, Roberta Klarreich, and Polly Zetterberg on this.The board then typically outsources the bulk of the planning for our biennial conference to member volunteers. In addition to assembling an enthusiastic planning committee, for the 2019 conference we’ve also hired an event-planning group that specializes in nonprofit events (including conferences at Bastyr). The planning committee is working with these planners to build a marketing plan, after which you’ll be hearing a lot more about our biennial gala. By the way, the 2019 Red Pencil is likely to sell out this year for the first time, so register early and often once registration opens.

Finally, the most important component of the Guild is our audience: you, the members.

  • YOU have extended our tradition of monthly coffee hours to West Seattle, South Seattle, Portland, and Eugene this year. I’ve heard rumors of one to come on the Eastside as well.
  • I’ve already given a nod to our growing membership throughout Oregon; many have come from member referrals.
  • With the 2019 board term we’re converting one at-large position to be a volunteer coordinator, to help more of our members meet each other (also known as easy networking).
  • We’re launching a rates survey later this month, to be followed next year by a general member survey.
    —Talk to Valerie about this, too.
    (By the way, we’re collaborating with Portland State U’s publishing program to have them analyze the survey data as part of their Book Marketing class—a much-anticipated event.)
  • In 2019 we’ll be analyzing where to direct more reserve funds into enhancing our offerings in several dimensions—possibilities include supporting diversity, speaking opportunities, multiple workshops, possibly even merchandise—so please, at any time, relay your wishes to myself, any other board members, or info@edsguild.org.

As my curtain closes, let me thank you all for supporting our Editors Guild by your presence here, and by all your other contributions, past and to come. Thank you!

Check back next month for even more Editors Guild news. And if you’re a member with a blog idea, we want to hear from you. Contact Karen Parkin, blog coordinator, kdparkinedits@gmail.com.

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