by Karin Beery

One year ago, I attended my first PENCON in Atlanta. I’d attended more than a dozen writers conferences (my box) so I had an idea of what to expect.

It was so much more than I could have hoped for.

At PENCON 2017, I found my people. There’s no way to explain what happened. We walked into the conference as strangers, and we walked away from it as sisters.

I have two “real” sisters who are amazing. We talk to each other every week and they’ll let me vent and will celebrate with me, but they don’t often understand why I’m frustrated by an assignment or excited about an industry change.

That’s not the case with my editing “sisters.” Not only do they listen, they GET it! They understand. They offer advice or they commiserate. There’s just something different about talking with someone who knows what you’re going through.

And yet PENCON 2017 was more than that.

Last year I felt like a fraud – there were other editors there with more experience and more knowledge than me, but I was the one teaching the classes. And they welcomed me! They encouraged me. They engaged me in conversations and asked questions, not to try to trick me, but to tap into my understanding of the topic, to get my perspective on things. They’re encouragement and curiosity made me think more, which has made me a better editor.

And the timing of it couldn’t have been more perfect.

As of a year ago, I had only edited two full-length manuscripts. No matter how many free samples or sales I offered, I couldn’t find authors who wanted to work with me. Since Atlanta, however, I’ve edited five full-length novel manuscripts, am in the middle of an edit now, and have three edits already booked for later this year.

Did I meet those authors at PENCON? No. I didn’t even get referrals from people I met at PENCON. In fact, the people I met are technically my competition – they’re fiction editors who need work the same way I do, but they also gave me confidence, support, and a strength that I needed when I didn’t know that I needed it.

It’s hard to put into words what PENCON 2017 did for me as an editor, writer, business owner, and person (and that’s frustrating for someone who works with words for a living!). There’s no direct connection between the conference and the spike in my editing business, but without hesitation I can tell you that something happened at PENCON 2017, and my career will never be the same.

If you couldn’t make it to PENCON this year, I hope you’ll put it on your calendar for 2019. And if that doesn’t work, keep looking outside of your box – go to an editing, writing, publishing, or speaking class or conference. Don’t be afraid to try something out of the ordinary – you never know what will happen!

Owner of Write Now Editing and Copywriting Services, Karin Beery specializes in fiction and professional business copy. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the American Christian Writers Association. A Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network member, she is the Substantive Editing for Fiction instructor for the PEN Institute. Karin is represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at Word Wise Media. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or at her website,