Christina M. Frey, Co-executive, Editorial Freelancers Association
How might we best support the unique needs of freelance editorial professionals? In the early 1970s, a handful of freelance editors began meeting in New York City to discuss that question and to network and share resources as they took on the gig economy. Over time the group formalized into the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), which has now grown to nearly 2,500 members located across the United States and internationally.
Nearly five decades after its beginnings, the association continues to adapt to the evolving needs of the publishing industry. No longer limited to a single geographic location, the EFA has moved many of its member benefits online—including the job list and member directory, where potential clients can find the right freelancer for their projects—and has capitalized on our ability to connect globally. EFA members are no longer only editors, either; we are writers, translators, indexers, proofreaders, and other editorial professionals. It’s the freelance life that unites us and gives us a common goal.
Mutual support remains a key element of what it means to be an EFA member. Freelancers may operate solo, but EFA members provide a vast network of committed, generous colleagues who often go out of their way to help each other navigate the realities of freelance life. In fact, almost all of our programs and benefits are coordinated by volunteer members who are looking out for the needs of their fellow freelance professionals in the rapidly changing world of publishing and media.
The online discussion list is active, collegial, and energetic; we discuss language issues, as one might expect, but members also share resources and ask for advice on specific business situations. Just scrolling through the questions and replies is an education in itself some days!
But we have a formalized education program too; because editorial professionals take their work and businesses seriously, we accommodate the need for professional development with a diverse array of webinars and online classes. A few selections from our fall catalog include sessions on websites for freelancers, advanced developmental editing, editing marketing copy, indexing basics, business building for experienced freelancers, and working with macros in Microsoft Word. Each term, we ensure that freelancers have new opportunities to develop their business and editorial skills, depending on their personal needs.
Professional networking is still a big part of the organization. We have active chapters throughout the United States and one in India; official chapters meet on a regular or occasional basis to hear industry speakers, network, and discuss the unique ups and downs of freelance work. In 2016 we held our first national conference in over a decade, and we’re planning for another sometime later in 2018 or in early 2019.
EFA members and volunteers keep abreast of new developments and trends in writing, editing, and publishing, and we’re constantly evolving to serve the needs of our membership. Our recently redesigned website is more navigable and is tailored to draw potential clients; we’ve expanded our presence at conferences, book fairs, and publishing events around the country; we’re pursuing partnerships with other organizations with mutual goals and interests; and each year we publish informative booklets, written by members, on various aspects of freelancing, editing, and writing. We’re also proud of our Diversity Initiative, which was formed earlier this year to support a more diverse membership and promote equitable access for all.
The EFA will be exhibiting at AMWA’s national conference in Orlando next month, so stop by our booth and say hello to our volunteers! You can also find information about the EFA, membership benefits, and educational offerings at our website, www.the-efa.org.
And don’t forget to follow the EFA on social media: