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.

Regulations about SfEP local groups

  • Section 4 of the SfEP by-laws sets out the regulations for SfEP local groups.
  • SfEP local groups are for SfEP members only, with two 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.
    • Members who have notified SfEP of their retirement from the profession before leaving the Society may continue to attend local group meetings.

Communicating with group members

  • A simple way to keep everyone informed is to set up and use a local group forum; if your group does not yet have a forum, contact the community director to arrange for one to be set up. Encourage interested parties to join the forum and to check it regularly. You can use the forum to post details of meetings, requests for help, and notes of past meetings.
  • You can, of course, communicate by email. The forum has big advantages, though: it builds a record of past activities and ideas; it's a one-stop place where everyone knows they can find information; and, for the coordinator (you), it means that you needn't keep track of who needs to be added to your mailing list or taken off it, as people self-select to be registered for the forum.

Organising meetings

  • Try to encourage people to take an active part by asking them to organise a meeting, sort out refreshments, arrange a venue, suggest topics, etc. If you have to collect money to pay for a venue, get someone to help with that. Coordinators shouldn't have to do everything on their own.
  • Meetings must be self-funding. If there is a charge for room hire, make a small charge to each member to cover this. If possible, find speakers locally – say, from among your members. If speakers belong to the SfEP, offer them only their expenses.

Publicising meetings

  • You can use your local group forum to publicise meetings and to ask people to confirm whether they will be attending. Some coordinators post a reminder a week or so in advance of the meeting.
  • Please also give details of your planned meetings to the community director as early as possible. The simplest way to do this is to post on the Local Group Coordinators' forum. The community director will ensure that details are included in the monthly Announce about local group activities, in the calendar of events page on the SfEP website, and in Editing Matters, the SfEP's magazine.

Record-keeping

  • Again, this responsibility can and should be shared.
  • Please keep a record of people's contact details and of who comes to meetings.
  • Please have someone take brief notes of what's discussed at each meeting and post these notes on your forum. This needn't be a long document; a few sentences is fine. This job could be done by the same person each time or could rotate among group members.
  • You (or other group members) are encouraged to send reports of meetings to the Editing Matters editor for publication in the magazine. Such a report may be an account of whatever your members have found interesting: a visit or outing, a presentation from a local business person, a novel meeting venue, or a discussion that produced useful or intriguing ideas.

Guidelines for running meetings

  • Style Local group meetings don't have to be formal – sometimes just a chat over a drink can be both productive and pleasant.
  • Venues When choosing a venue, please bear in mind accessibility. Some members are reliant on public transport. Others may have difficulty with flights of stairs.
  • Local groups meet in pubs, cafés, restaurants, people's homes, church halls or even in a university meeting room at the weekend. They also go on outings to local companies (typesetter, publisher, publishing services, digital design agency), libraries, exhibitions, museums, festivals, parks and gardens.
  • Times Morn to midnight: coffee, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, evening, sometimes whole days.

Possible themes, topics and focal points for meetings

Many local groups choose a topic for discussion each time they meet. Sometimes this is just an informal chat, or a group member may give a brief presentation on their area of expertise. Sabine Citron, a previous community director, has compiled a list of topics chosen by the various local groups to serve as inspiration.

You will see many variations on a theme: chat, discussion, presentation, guest speaker (from macro maven to font guru, via senior editor at major publishers and lecturer in publishing, not to forget our own Editing Matters editor), regular topics or one-off topics, workshop, training course, focus group; or meal, 'bring-and-share' meal, afternoon tea, drink, picnic, family picnic, outing, Christmas lunch.

If your group is interested in having one-day SfEP training courses come to your area, contact the training director.

Support for you – the coordinator(s)

We have a special SfEP forum for local group coordinators. Please use it to share tips, ask questions, look for ideas for meetings, seek guidance, find speakers, etc. Ask the community director to add you to it.

The community director is your representative on the SfEP council. Please bring to her/his attention any issues that are raised by members of your group that you think the council should be aware of.

The community director is also there to support you, so do feel free to email the community director with any questions you may have about coordinating your local group.

Topics of past local group meetings

General

  • an informal chat on all things editorial
  • to share work experiences, topics of interest, problems, advice and tips
  • 'tips and techniques' sessions
  • we shared a number of 'war stories'
  • 'something you have learned in 2010 that you think will be useful in 2011'
  • 'what I learnt from my last job'
  • 'A Proofreading Day in the Life'
  • what exactly constitutes proofreading and copy editing
  • educational publishing and the future of textbooks
  • editing fiction for self-publishing
  • Society of Indexers conference

Software

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
  • Word 2010 and 2013
  • Word templates
  • Track Changes
  • problems typesetters have with different versions of Word
  • Excel
  • LaTex
  • InDesign
  • on-screen editing
  • on-screen proofreading: PDFXchange and Adobe Acrobat Reader, stamps
  • editing websites
  • wildcards
  • search and replace
  • search-engine optimisation
  • data security

Tools

  • our favourite resources
  • reference books
  • online resources
  • notes, references and bibliographies
  • fonts
  • QR codes
  • corpora

Freelancing

  • how to set up as a freelance
  • finding work, especially (but not only!) for new members
  • finding work with non-publishers
  • marketing
  • business development
  • accounts, invoicing, tax returns, VAT
  • record keeping
  • insurance and 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 continuing professional development

  • training courses (including new ones and local ones)
  • brainstorming CPD ideas
  • upgrading SfEP membership

Networking

  • social media, Facebook, Twitter
  • business websites, LinkedIn
  • local networking
  • links with other publishing organisations, e.g. the Society of Young Publishers
  • work hubs
  • coworking events

SfEP

  • feedback from the conference
  • SfEP Directory
  • local groups page on the SfEP website
  • council survey on local websites and directories
  • questionnaire sent out to local members to see what they want from local group meetings

Other

My all-time favourite:

  • 'to see the hellebores'