In March 2004, as I was handing out business cards for my editing service at a writers’ conference, one of my clients expressed concern that if I got a lot of new clients after the event, I wouldn’t have time to help her with her manuscript. “Don’t you know some other freelance editors you could pass on some jobs to?”
I didn’t … but realized that I should! At that point, I’d been a full-time freelance editor for six years. I had plenty of work on a steady basis. But it occurred to me that there must be editors out there who had different specialties from mine … and that maybe we could pass on jobs to one another so authors could get the right editors for their projects.
I knew of several organizations that provided networking and fellowship for Christian writers. How great would it be if there was a group like that for Christian editors! And not just for exchanging leads. Together, there were all kinds of things we could accomplish.
I contacted the half dozen or so freelance editors I knew at the time 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 started by coming up with a name for the organization: The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. Its objective: “to provide freelance proofreaders and editors with a venue for cooperative competition through mutual support and the exchange of information, leads, and resources.”
I reserved the website address and created an e-mail discussion loop. Then I contacted the few editors I knew and asked them to get the word out. 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?”
In October 2004, we officially launched the website. A few months later we put out the first issue of PEN Points, our quarterly e-newsletter and we offered our first online course.
In 2006, some Christian PEN members expressed a desire to have a network of established, professional freelance editors. I secured the URL www.ChristianEditor.com and started a second organization: the Christian Editor Network. The sole purpose of this organization was putting authors, agents, and publishers together with established, experienced, professional Christian editors. (That organization’s name was later changed to the Christian Editor Connection, to better reflect its purpose of connecting people, and to differentiate that purpose from The Christian PEN’s, which is networking.)
In 2012, 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 became a tremendous blessing to me and to the PEN.
In 2014, we held our first editors’ convention in Yorba Linda, California. When that small group met that weekend, we decided to make it an annual event. We named the convention PENCON, and the 2015 event was directed by Jenne Acevedo. We had an amazing second convention in Austin, Texas.
At that event, we brainstormed ways to update the PEN by changing the branding and creating a new professional membership level. Through the incredible efforts of the PEN coordinators, we researched and planned for a new look for the organization, with added benefits and opportunities. In January 2016 we launched our Silver and Gold Membership levels, new branding, and a new website.
About that time, Jeanne Marie Leach retired as the PEN’s coordinator, and daily administrative operations were turned over to Jenne Acevedo. She oversees a fantastic group of volunteers who make this community of freelance proofreaders and editors such a wonderful blessing to so many people.
What began as a spark of an idea in March of 2004 has become an incredible international organization, with nearly one thousand members. The same spirit of “cooperative communication” remains in our new motto. “The Christian PEN is dedicated to equipping aspiring and established freelance editors with education, networking, and community. “
I am excited to see where God takes us next!
Founder and Director
The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network