Society of Editors (NSW) Inc.

In 1978 seven Sydney editors (Bruce Champion, George Morrison, Jim Robins, Gil Teague, Barbara Ker Wilson, Jacquie Kent and Elaine Russell) gathered to discuss the idea of forming a society called ‘The Editors’. The purpose of this society was twofold: to maintain and develop standards of editorial skills and at the same time to promote the exchange of ideas among editors. An interim committee was formed, a constitution drafted and 75 editors attended the first meeting at a venue called Julie’s Swiss Inn. The first annual general meeting was held on 16 May 1979 and the interim committee members were confirmed in their positions.

The idea was a good one. ‘The Editors’ had grown from these not-so-humble beginnings.  Its list of members, patrons and guest speakers over the years has included some of New South Wales’ most admired and respected editors, authors and public figures such as Hazel Hawke, Beatrice Davis and Jon Cleary to name a few.

The constitution stated that membership would be open to anyone engaged full-time in any aspect of book editing, any self-employed book editor and to any former editor in either of those categories. This stands today, as do the ideas and objectives expressed in the first society newsletter evident in activities such as:

  • developing and valuing affiliations with other editors’ societies and overseas groups;
  • establishing a freelance register; and
  • conducting courses to develop editing skills.

The first professional development meeting was held at the Kirribilli Neighbourhood Centre in Fitzroy St and these are now held at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts at 280 Pitt St, Sydney.

Following that first meeting in 1978 there were 70 financial members of the society. A few months later by the annual general meeting there were 86. The membership has since grown to over 350. Subscription fees have increased modestly from the original $10 and still represent excellent value for money. Several name changes have also occurred. The original and economical ‘The Editors’ became, in 1986, the Society of Editors (NSW) Inc.

In 2015 NSW voted to become a branch of the national editors’ professional body, the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd). In 2016 the society was wound down and replaced by ‘Editors NSW, a branch of IPEd’. As a result of this transition, which became official on 1 July 2016, membership included eligibility for inclusion in an online national directory of editors, attendance at the biennial editors’ conference and ever greater opportunities to develop skills and share ideas.

A record of the society’s events and issues is maintained in the society newsletter. The Editors Newsletter No 1, appeared in February 1979 and was renamed Blue Pencil in 1987. Back copies of Blue Pencil and its predecessor, The Editors Newsletter are available on the this website under the Resources tab where they provide a rich resource for  past members of the society and for NSW branch members.