Top Takeaways from the ACES National Conference

ACES_three board member selfieIn late April, three members of SD/PEN’s Board of Directors—Treasurer Isabella “Bella” Furth, Secretary Erin Willard, and Director Diane Rush—attended the ACES national conference in Chicago. The three-day conference at the Palmer House Hilton had sold out early, being the annual conference in the field of editing. In addition to networking happy hours, receptions, and morning yoga, the conference featured breakout sessions on a broad range of timely topics, including “Editing in the World of #MeToo,” “Reaching the Fact-Resistant Audience,” “Technical Editing in the Software Industry,” and “Editing and Emotional Labor,” which was co-presented by Isabella.

Each of the three board members approached the conference from a different perspective: a first-time attendee, a volunteer, and a presenter. And each came away from the conference with unique insights, which they share below:

Isabella Furth, ACES Panel Co-Presenter

This was my second ACES conference and my first time presenting. The thing that I love best about the conference is no matter what I’m struggling with, someone else I meet is dealing with it too—and often has a fantastic solution.

The standout session for me this year was Laura Poole’s presentation on “How Do I Say That?!” She offered wonderful scripts on those difficult conversations with clients—whether it’s about raising your rates, being firm about your availability, or avoiding “scope creep.”

And I had so many fabulous conversations over lunch, in the hallway, and at the exhibit tables. People told me about the best yoga poses for dealing with neck strain, their favorite pencils, how to keep pets off the keyboard, and more.

I love learning about areas of editing that are completely unrelated to what I do—everything from cookbooks to comics to working for the CIA. Those encounters give me insight into whole new realms of editing, as well as ideas I can apply to my own work.

And it never ceases to amaze me—for a bunch of self-described introverts, editors really do love to party!

Erin Willard, ACES Volunteer

At this year’s ACES conference, I was one of two people who worked as a volunteer at the UCSD Extension Copyediting Certificate program table during breaks between sessions. Working there had advantages beyond having my registration paid, although that was definitely a plus. Spending a lot of time at that table, located near those for the University of Chicago Press and for, gave me an opportunity to meet and network with a wide variety of publishing professionals, all of whom had little nuggets of wisdom to share, helping to build my confidence and competence as a copy editor and business owner.

The good and bad news about attending ACES is that there are more sessions offered than one person can attend, and there is more information presented at every session than one person can ever note or remember. Happily, many of the slides, handouts, and lists of resources presented at the sessions have been made available to everyone, attendee or not, on the ACES site now that the conference is over. They’re full of useful information, and they just may inspire you to attend ACES in person in 2019—registration is already open at!

Diane Rush, ACES First-Time Attendee

I went to the ACES conference as a first-time attendee, and my goals were to learn as much as I could, plus meet fellow copy editors. I succeeded on both.

Choosing which session to sit in on was difficult because many good and useful topics were offered during the three days, and all were led by industry professionals. One of the sessions I learned the most in was “Is This Resource Reliable?” The speaker went over the basics of online searches and verifying sources of content, and also mentioned resources I hadn’t tried yet: CIA World Factbook, maps on National Geographic’s website, the New York Times Newsroom Navigator, the Library of Congress and National Archives for original documents, and

The camaraderie at the conference was great, the location was outstanding, and contacts were made because other attendees were friendly, welcoming, and shared business cards. Many followed up with emails once they were back home.

Another lesson learned at the conference: Like SD/PEN members, ACES members receive a lot of benefits. On their website, you’ll find various resources, including their job bank, newsletter, mentorship opportunities, and online training.

2 thoughts to “Top Takeaways from the ACES National Conference”

  1. So appreciate this summary. It inspires me to attend the conference next year. This year I was busy at my desk finishing my UCSD Copyediting Certificate. I made it! Now it’s time to enter the world of copyediting full force. I have already read some of the summary articles from the ACE conference. They are so helpful! Especially the one about Linda Murphy’s talk regarding British/American English copyediting differences. My next project will involve crossing that boundary and I see I will need to be open to the different approaches while holding onto the value of the American “rule-bound” attitude. Seems like copyediting is always about striking a good balance.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Diane! And congratulations on completing the UCSD Extension Copyediting Certificate program. Your comments illustrate precisely why editors are needed: to know and apply the rules, but also know when to break them!

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