The Association of Freelance Editors and Indexers (AFEI) was founded by Pat Carroll, Anna Farmar, Helen Litton and Siobhán Parkinson, who met through the Women in Publishing group and identified a need to unite freelance workers in the publishing industry. The inaugural meeting of the Association was held in October 1985 at Book House Ireland, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, and attended by nine people in all. Officers were elected – Chair, Tony Farmar; Secretary, Siobhán Parkinson; Treasurer, Pat Carroll – and an annual membership fee was set at £10. By the end of that first year, the AFEI had fifteen members, and had compiled a register of freelancers (on paper), which was distributed to Clé (Irish Book Publishers Association; now Publishing Ireland).
By the end of 1993, the AFEI had twenty-one members and had removed ‘Indexers’ from its title to minimise confusion with the newly established Irish branch of the UK-based Society of Indexers (it retained the acronym AFEI, which instead stood for Association of Freelance Editors of Ireland). That year also marked the final production of the paper copy of the freelance register. After 1993, everything was done by email or online.
At some point during the 1990s, the word ‘Proofreaders’ was added to the Association’s name, and ‘Indexers’ returned as well when the Society of Indexers’ Irish branch closed down. The Association became known as AFEPI – the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers – and a logo was designed by Brendan Lyons, the husband of one of the members.
By that time, many of the founding members had moved on: Tony and Anna Farmar established their own publishing house, A&A Farmar, and Siobhán Parkinson became a highly successful children’s author, Ireland’s first Children’s Laureate and the proprietor of Little Island books. Helen Litton and Pat Carroll (who had returned to editing and indexing) continued as freelancers until retirement.
In the two decades since then, AFEPI has grown in both size and stature. We have changed our name again – to the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers of Ireland; AFEPI Ireland, for short – and have a newly minted logo to match. As of January 2020 we have over 100 members from north and south of the island, all of whom are freelancers with a wide range of editorial expertise that extends well beyond the core skills encompassed by the Association’s name. With new members applying to join each year, the Association plans to be around for many more years to come and to remain the voice of professional editorial freelancers in Ireland.
Our thanks to Helen Litton for supplying a history of the Association to the 1990s. If you would like to read more about the history of the Irish publishing industry, Tony Farmar’s The History of Irish Book Publishing (The History Press, 2018) is indispensable.