SfEP guidelines for local group coordinators
Page owner: Community director
Thank you for being a local group coordinator! Local groups are one of the greatest assets of the SfEP and one of the greatest benefits to its members, and by taking on this role you are making an essential contribution.
- What do SfEP local groups do?
- Who can attend SfEP local group meetings?
- What records do I have to keep?
- What’s the best way to communicate with my local group?
- What about the local group forums?
- How do I find potential members?
- What is the best type of venue for local group meetings?
- How can my local group cover its costs?
- Are there official rules for SfEP local groups?
- What help and support is available to me as the local group coordinator?
- Examples of topics explored by local groups
What do SfEP local groups do?
Local groups bring together members at all stages of their editing and SfEP journey, from those just starting out to those who bring years of experience to the table. Every SfEP member is welcome and it’s our aim that everyone will be able to participate, whether that means sharing experience and helping each other to solve problems, or simply soaking up the supportive atmosphere that positions local groups alongside the forums at the heart of the SfEP community.
Local groups are led by volunteer coordinators and each may take a different direction. Some groups have social get-togethers, where members simply meet and chat over coffee or a meal; others facilitate more focused meetings, delving into a chosen topic in depth (for inspiration, see the list below); yet others set up special events, such as a visit to a local literary festival. A group may meet on a monthly, six-weekly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis. What’s common to every local group is that it’s the members who direct its activities.
Some SfEP local groups also add value to membership by offering opportunities for training and CPD. Several have seized the initiative and arranged regional mini-conferences, delivering day-long special events that bring a taste of the SfEP’s annual conference to members’ doorsteps. Groups can also arrange to host SfEP training workshops locally, such as PDF Mark-up, Going Freelance and Staying There, and Efficient Editing: Strategies and Tactics. If your group is interested in hosting an SfEP workshop, contact the SfEP training director.
Who can attend SfEP local group meetings?
SfEP local groups are for SfEP members only, with some exceptions.
- People interested in joining the SfEP are welcome to attend up to three meetings, but they must join the Society to attend subsequent ones.
- Retired members may continue to attend local group meetings.
- Members of the Society of Indexers (SI) are eligible to attend SfEP local group meetings (and vice versa) under a partnership arrangement between the two societies.
What records do I have to keep?
The main record that you will need to maintain is your mailing list, ie your list of members. You can update this periodically, checking for new members in your area, by requesting a redacted copy of the SfEP membership list from the community director, under strict conditions of use.
You will also want to maintain a record of attendance, including not only members, but also non-members, because the local groups are one of the SfEP’s key member benefits and so non-members must join if they are to be entitled to attend more than three meetings.
While record-keeping responsibilities can be shared, remember that GDPR mandates that records of personal data should be limited to only what’s necessary to accomplish your role as LGC and that access to such data should be similarly restricted.
What’s the best way to communicate with my local group?
You’ll need to communicate with your group to notify them of upcoming meetings or to schedule dates, topics of conversation or activities in a way that maximises participation.
One way of communicating is through the local group forum. You can use your forum to post details of meetings, requests for help and notes of past meetings. You might also encourage group members to check the forum regularly, and to use it as a more localised source of support and advice – or simply to chat.
You should also communicate directly by email. While we should be encouraging them to do so, not all SfEP members use the forums, and it’s essential that we maximise inclusion and participation by using all of the different communication channels available to us.
You will also receive an email from the community director once a month asking you to submit your local group’s entry for Local Group News, which goes out to all SfEP members by email. This entry is then converted into a listing for the SfEP calendar of events, which appears on the public-facing pages of the SfEP website and so can be a route through which interested non-members make contact.
NB. If you have ideas for other forms of group communication, such as social media or telephone, please take care to respect your members’ right to privacy and to personal–professional boundaries.
What about the local group forums?
All existing groups have access to their local group forum and some are more active than others. Indeed, there are some local groups that now function in forum form only.
- To join an existing forum, follow the steps on this help page.
- Anyone in the SfEP can join a forum by following the links on the Forums home page.
- Alternatively, if you, as LGC, need to add a user to a forum, the community director can give you a document that explains how.
- To arrange for a new forum to be set up, contact the community director in the first instance.
How do I find potential members?
Often, new joiners will contact you directly, but you may want to check periodically for new SfEP members in your area against the SfEP membership list, redacted to include only those members with postcodes in your area. You can request this from the community director, under strict conditions of use.
What is the best type of venue for local group meetings?
Local groups meet in a range of different spaces, including cafés, restaurants, community halls or similar. Groups may also host activities that involve visits to local publishers, specialist libraries, relevant exhibitions or museums, festivals of literature, etc.
Among the key considerations are capacity and cost. You will know the size of your group and the size of the space you need to accommodate it. It will be easier for some groups than for others to find an appropriately sized venue – and it will be easier for some groups than for others to identify a venue that is happy to host the group free of charge. There are considerations around costs that you must bear in mind and, if in doubt, do email the community director for advice.
It’s also essential that you bear in mind accessibility and inclusion when assessing a venue for suitability. The SfEP is developing an accessibility checklist that will help you to do so and public spaces have access duties under law, so there should be less difficulty in this regard now than there has been historically.
Think about accessibility not only in terms of obvious physical disability, such as wheelchair use, but also hidden disabilities; think also about members’ travel arrangement and try to ensure that any venue is accessible by public transport. You may need to make special arrangements or even reasonable adjustments to ensure that a member with a disability has access to a meeting and the best approach will be to avoid barriers to access in the first instance.
NB. For these and other reasons, the SfEP asks its LGCs not to host local group meetings in their own or other members’ homes.
How can my local group cover its costs?
Local group activity – particularly any special local group events – must be self-funding. This does not mean, however, that LGCs should shoulder the financial burden of sustaining local groups and the SfEP is committed to putting administrative mechanisms in place that support you.
- Most commonly, regular meetings may be held in a venue that grants space free of charge in return for patronage, eg a café that anticipates SfEP members buying coffee and cake.
- Some groups may be able to find only a venue that grants space for a regular meeting in return for a charge for room hire, in which case you may ask your members for a contribution towards those costs and you must contact the community director to discuss the VAT implications.
For bigger meetings or special events, ranging from eventettes (a half-day meeting involving one or more local groups and special activities or special guest speakers), through training workshops, to regional mini-conferences, costs will be higher – and the SfEP is developing guidelines that will help you to navigate your way through budgeting, ticketing and accounting for VAT to ensure that the SfEP meets its liabilities.
NB. If your local group is considering hosting an eventette, a training workshop or a mini-conference, please get in touch with the community director at the very outset to discuss your proposal.
Are there official rules for SfEP local groups?
Section 4 of the SfEP by-laws sets out the general regulations for SfEP local groups. You can access these by going to About the SfEP: Important documents.
In addition, the SfEP has certain obligations around issues such as accessibility and VAT on events, and guidelines on these are in progress, but you should contact the community director if you have any immediate enquiry in the meantime.
Remember that data protection requirements are strict and that, for example, you should be using the Bcc… field to conceal all addresses when communicating with your group by email.
The SfEP is also developing an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy, of which all LGCs (and indeed all members) will need to make themselves aware, as well as a policy on dignity in all SfEP activities, which will include procedures that LGCs will need to follow in the event of a complaint of discrimination, harassment, victimisation or bullying.
What help and support is available to me as the local group coordinator?
In the first instance, your local group should be a cooperative effort. Try to encourage people to take an active part in, for example, exploring venue options, suggesting topics for discussion or activities, etc. In fact, some local groups have not one coordinator, but a team of two or three co-coordinators – although at least one coordinator must be the named contact, whose email will be listed on the SfEP local groups web page(s) and who will take the lead on communications with the community director.
You will also have access to the local group coordinators forum, in which you can ask other LGCs for advice and draw on their experiences so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel.
In addition, remember that the community director is not only available to answer any questions or concerns that might arise, but also your representative on the SfEP Council, and so – whatever the issue arising – if in doubt, shout!
Examples of topics explored by local groups
- all things editorial
- work experiences, topics of interest, problems, advice and tips
- ‘tips and techniques’
- ‘war stories’
- ‘something you have learned in 20xx that you think will be useful in 20xx’
- ‘what I learnt from my last job’
- ‘a proofreading day in the life’
- distinguishing between proofreading and copy editing
- the future of educational publishing
- editing fiction for self-publishing
This might be a brief demo, an exchange of tips, or a longer, more organised session.
- what software we use, how and why
- time-saving tricks and shortcuts
- macros (FRedit, Textalyse, etc)
- PerfectIt editing software
- Reference Checker
- MS Word top tips
- using Word templates
- Track Changes in MS Word
- problems typesetters have with different versions of MS Word
- MS Excel
- Adobe InDesign
- on-screen editing
- on-screen proofreading: PDF-XChange Editor: Adobe Acrobat Reader; stamps
- editing websites
- find and replace (especially wildcards)
- search-engine optimisation (SEO)
- data security
- our favourite resources
- reference books
- online resources
- notes, references and bibliographies
- QR codes
- how to set up as a freelancer
- finding work (especially for new members)
- getting work with non-publishers
- business development
- accounts; invoicing; tax returns; VAT
- record keeping
- professional indemnity insurance
- rates of pay; pricing jobs; estimates and quotes
- tendering in Europe
- publishers’ contracts
- work styles – anything to improve our daily working life, from better posture to improved file management, health and safety, lighting, chairs, taking breaks, document saving, chocolate, etc
- work–life balance
Training and CPD
- training courses (including new ones and local ones)
- brainstorming CPD ideas
- upgrading SfEP membership
- social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- business directories (Reedsy, Upwork)
- local networking
- links with other publishing organisations, eg Society of Young Publishers
- work hubs
- co-working events
- feedback from the conference
- usefulness of SfEP Directory
- running local groups
- SfEP Council business
- how to get the most from your membership
- how to use the SfEP forums
… and too many more topics to list here!