The objective of The Christian PEN is to provide proofreaders and editors with a venue for “cooperative competition” through mutual support and the exchange of information, leads, and resources.
Thanks to the time, work, and efforts of numerous volunteers—and to God, who gave me the idea for this organization in the first place and has consistently brought the right people here—we are accomplishing this exciting goal.
As I was handing out flyers and business cards for my editing service at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, one of my ongoing clients approached me. She said she’d had a lot of good feedback from publishers on the manuscript she and I had been working on. But she was concerned that I wouldn’t have time to help her finish editing it because I was going to be inundated with new clients after the conference.
At that point, I’d been a full-time freelance editor for six years. I’d gotten past the initial stage of getting established as a freelancer, and the longer “feast or famine” phase. I had lots of work on a steady basis. But I hated telling any author who needed editing, “Sorry. Can’t help you. I’m too busy.”
Even if someone asked me to work on a project outside my main fields of expertise, since I didn’t know anyone to refer such jobs to, my only options were to attempt the work anyway (and hope I did a decent job of it) or turn down the business. It occurred to me that there must be editors out there who’d be better at those job than I would be … and that maybe they had jobs that I might be better suited for. And there were probably good editors out there who were still in the “establishing” or “feast or famine” stages and could use some referrals. It’d be much better if I could tell an author, “That’s not really one of my specialties, but I’d be happy to help you find someone who does specialize in that.”
On my six-hour drive home from the conference, I prayed about this, and God flooded my mind with ideas. I knew of several organizations that provided great networking and fellowship for Christian writers. How great would it be if there were a group like that for Christian editors! And not just for exchanging leads. Together, there were all kinds of things we could accomplish.
When I got home, I contacted all the freelance editors I knew at the time (maybe a half dozen) and asked if they were aware of an organization for Christian editors. They all said, “I don’t know of any. But you should start one!”
I was caught up enough with my editing work to take some preliminary steps on this vision. I created an e-mail discussion loop and reserved the website address. Then I contacted the few editors I knew and asked them to get the word out. We decided to open the group to established freelance editors, and people who were thinking about possibly getting into this field, and everything in between. We started out with eleven members.
Soon I had people asking me, “Could I design a logo for the group?” and “Could I create a website for the group?” and “Could we put together a team of people to do an e-newsletter?” and “What do you think about doing online courses?”
We officially launched the website. By the end of the month, we’d nearly tripled our membership to thirty-one.
We got our first contributing members (people who paid an annual fee to get added benefits). We put out the first issue of PEN Points, our quarterly e-newsletter, which was sent to all contributing members. (The newsletter was created by an all-volunteer team … as it is to this day.) Also, we offered our first online course.
Some Christian PEN members expressed a desire to have a network of professional freelance editors. While they thoroughly enjoyed the networking, fellowship, and training among aspiring, beginner, and established editors, they saw a need for an organization of freelancers they could feel confident about referring authors to for high-quality editing. About that time,
I discovered that www.ChristianEditor.com was available. So I started a second organization: the Christian Editor Network. The sole purpose of this organization is putting authors, agents, and publishers together with established, experienced, professional Christian editors.
At that point, there was a lot going on in my life with my active writing, editing, and ghostwriting business. So I asked one of The Christian PEN’s earliest members and staunchest supporters, Jeanne Marie Leach, to take over the responsibilities of coordinating this wonderful organization. She graciously agreed, and she has been a tremendous blessing to me and to the PEN.
Founder and Director
The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network