Volunteering to run the EFA booth at AWP23 in Seattle was a fantastic experience. Running the booth was straightforward; the EFA supplied helpful information and guidance. I had the opportunity to speak with a variety of people from all over the country: undergrads with questions about how to become freelancers, indie authors looking for help with their latest projects, and small press editors curious about transitioning to freelance work, to name a few. In addition to enjoying my time at the booth, I attended several informative panels, networked with other EFA members, and enjoyed a lovely dinner with new industry friends. I even handed out a decent number of business cards to potential clients. I walked away from my volunteer experience with a renewed sense of competence, inclusion, and motivation. I would urge other EFA members to jump on the chance to volunteer at events like AWP; to do so will be well worth your time. —September Herrin

Volunteer behind a table covered with a black EFA logo drape and laid out with brochures and marketing materials
Member volunteer September Herrin staffing the EFA table at AWP

Staffing the EFA table at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ annual conference was a first for me on two fronts: as staffer and attendee. Our participation came with all-access passes for volunteers so when not on duty we could attend sessions and peruse the other 600 exhibitors in the massive hall. That’s right—600 exhibitors! This meant EFA was competing for the 9,000 attendees with publishers, small presses, writing retreats, and university MFA programs, but only one other editing organization. Our table was well-positioned near the front, yet it was still important to smile, make eye-contact, and speak out when someone glanced our way. A simple “Hello! Are you a writer, an editor, or both?” was often enough to get them to stop and at least take a look at our extensive offerings of pamphlets and take a candy from the basket. One writer remarked, “It’s like Halloween. I feel like I am trick-or-treating going from booth to booth getting candy.”

Volunteer Heather Hardy kept her small laptop open to show authors our website and the rate listing. I kept my email open on my phone to one of the job list alerts to show potential members. All were impressed. I worked the last shift and had a steady stream of folks stopping by right up until the announcement that the book fair was closing. The big coup for the afternoon was a small publisher in Oregon who wanted to add to his stable of freelance editors. We chatted for at least fifteen minutes. I hope he followed through. When EFA puts out the call for volunteers again, I will definitely respond. It was an enjoyable experience on every level. —Andrea Leigh Ptak

Volunteer behind a table covered with a black EFA logo drape and laid out with brochures and marketing materials
EFA member volunteer and Cascadia chapter coordinator Andrea Leigh Ptak