I mean, how many memberships does one person need?
A few weeks ago, I got an email telling me that my Editors Canada membership was coming due for renewal. Now, membership of Canada’s national editing organization does not come cheap. A one-year membership costs $298, with an extra $80 for a profile in the online directory. Add in the sales tax and we’re looking at an investment of $400 per year.
Over the years, I have had – and given up – membership of quite a few professional organizations. Every year, I look at the memberships I hold and decide which of them I want to keep, and which are no longer working for me. I am currently a member of only two organizations in addition to Editors Canada:
IATEFL. The International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language has been my professional home for as long as I can remember. I edited Conference Selections for ten years, and I have been editor of IATEFL’s bimonthly magazine Voices for three and a half. IATEFL conferences, held every spring in the UK, used to be the highlight of my year, and I've presented at many of them. I've been a member of the Materials Writing Special Interest Group (MaWSIG) committee, and briefly, I was joint MaWSIG coordinator. I no longer teach, and I won’t be Voices editor forever, but I can’t see giving up my IATEFL membership just yet.
ELT Publishing Professionals. This is a fairly new organization, which grew out of the ELT Freelancers’ Community and ELT Teacher 2 Writer. For anyone involved in ELT materials development, this is a must-have membership. In the pre-Covid era, I used to go to ELT Freelancer Awaydays in Oxford in January, and I would come away from them with new ideas, new friends – and even new work. I may have written my last ELT coursebook (we’ll see…), but this is another one that I’m keeping.
I’m also a lapsed member of CIEP, the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, and I’m planning to renew next month. Despite not being a current member, I have taken three courses with CIEP in the last two years, and I hope to go to this year’s conference in person.
So, what about Editors Canada?
It’s significantly more expensive than my other organizations. Going to their in-person events is not easy, as there is no local branch where I live, not even a so-called twig (there used to be, but it became independent). And, of course, Covid has put face-to-face conferences and meetings on hold for the last couple of years.
On the other hand, there are always online events. I have just watched Christine LeBlanc’s excellent webinar “One-Hour Marketing Plan”; during lockdown, I watched recordings of several others. I appreciate the energy Editors Canada puts into producing webinars, guidelines for editors, PD resources, and more. I welcome the discounts that Editors Canada has been able to negotiate for its members on editing resources like PerfectIt, and – though I don’t need it – on certain forms of medical and dental insurance. If I want to take part in an event offered by the EFA or CIEP, my Editors Canada membership offers me a discount.
Suddenly, $400 a year doesn’t look like a bad deal.
But it isn’t just about PD events. More importantly, I think it’s important to be part of a community of professionals. I know there are people who work quite happily in isolation, but I’m not one of them. I have always believed in the importance of joining the professional organization that best reflects your professional needs. I’m an editor, and I live in Canada, so membership of the national association makes sense for me. There is always something new to be learned, something to share, something to discuss, an editing problem to solve…
And if that were not enough, not long after I received the email inviting me to renew, I received another one: “I found your information on editors.ca…” This was not the first project to come to me through my Editors Canada directory listing. The money I have made in the last year as a direct result of my membership has paid my membership dues many times over.
Suddenly, $400 a year looks like a very good deal.
In the end, it was an easy decision. My membership expired yesterday, and not surprisingly, I have renewed.
Tania Pattison is an editor and proofreader specializing in English language teaching, education and related subjects. When not editing, she is an EAP textbook writer.
Photo: Editors Canada