Occasionally when I’m out with the bookstore, folks ask how to get started in this business. If they’re serious, I tell them to go pro. Act like a professional. Pay your dues–which has the double meaning of having to prove yourself, but also of joining professional organizations.
Joining a professional group is always a plus, if for no other reason than to find people who are as passionate about their work as you are and have faced the same challenges, heartbreaks, and successes. You can find folks who can give you a hand up, and folks who need you for that same reason. You can also find opportunities to learn from the best in our business.
Are you a Christian editor or writer (or both) looking for a place to network with others in your field? Here are some organizations for you:
For editing, I recommend The Christian PEN (proofreaders and editors network). There are different membership levels, and the fees and services are different for each. The higher your membership, the better the benefits, of course. This site offers classes to help you hone your editing skills and to help you set up your business, among other things. They also have a private email loop where you can have access to professional editors at all levels of experience whenever you have a question. At the highest level of membership, jobs are presented for the editors to bid on, and discounts are offered for the courses.
For a writing career, I recommend American Christian Fiction Writers. ACFW isn’t just for fiction writers. This organization is a wonderful place for meeting other authors in our field, not to mention editors, agents, publishers, and publicists. Online loop courses are invaluable, but the conference experience, though expensive, is incomparable for networking, friendships, publishing opportunities, learning the craft. The next conference is in Dallas in September, and I can’t wait to get there!
There are other editor and author organizations too (a list of others can be found “here“), but these are the two I’m most familiar with. Both have membership fees, and things can get expensive, but consider it an investment in your future. As you get your footing in this business and start earning money, these fees are deductible from your income tax. I can’t stress enough how valuable both organizations are. Consider it a step toward professionalism.
On the flipside, if you’re not ready to go pro yet, try Christianwriters.com . I don’t have as much time as I’d like for the site anymore, so I’m not there very often, but it’s where I got my start and developed several lifelong friendships. It’s a free site of Christian authors and bloggers with varying degrees of expertise, from newbies to multi-pubbed pros. You’ll come across advice of all kinds, some sound, some not, but all valuable. There is a critique forum that I’d recommend you get into. You’ll have to establish yourself as a member by participating in the conversations on the site before they’ll give you access to the critique forum, but once there, you’ll be able to do two things: (1) critique others’ works, which is a great way to hone your editing skills and can also help set your online reputation, and (2) present your own works for critique, which can get you some great feedback (and some not so great, but you’ll know the difference) and establish you as a viable author.
These aren’t the only Christian editor/writer sites out there but these are the ones I’m most familiar with and can personally vouch for. They’re worth looking into–particularly if you’re serious about your career.