Interview 21: Vivek Kumar

Years editing: 22 years
Job title: Freelance medical copyeditor
Job description: Edits medical journal articles
Location: India

EXPERIENCE

How did you get your current job?
My current freelance assignment came about through my LinkedIn group Editorial Heads, India, which I formed with the aim of bringing together the editorial heads of all the companies in India and abroad. There was a discussion about copyediting quality and whether Indian copyeditors can match the best in the world. One of the group members gave me a test, and we (me and my business partner at that time) cleared it with flying colors. I have been working with that client since then. 

What copyediting training do you have, and what positions have you held? 
I have been lucky in the sense that I entered the profession when there was enough time (and not so much work) for our manager, Dr. Venkataraman Anantharaman (Dr. Venkat), to train copyeditors. The icing on the cake was that he was passionate about training. Even now, I take courses offered by Dr. Venkat through his Art of Copyediting training initiative. 

I started as a copyeditor and rose to the position of assistant manager at Aptara. I joined SPi Global as senior manager, editorial services, in 2007, and then I rejoined Aptara as senior manager, copyediting, in 2008. 

DOING THE JOB

Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
I would say that it is important to be visible, but that visibility should be backed up, always, by the quality of work a person delivers.

Constructive use of social media helps in connecting with experts, knowledge sharing, and continuous professional development. 

Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)? 
I have been using PerfectIt for years. I have loaded my journal style sheets in PerfectIt, and this ensures that I do not miss any style point.

COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors?
I have been building a community of Indian editors on Facebook through my group Indian Copyeditors Forum: The Forum for Editors (ICF) since June 28, 2015. We are a community of more than 2,000 editorial professionals (copyeditors, developmental editors, indexers, commissioning editors, production editors, translators, project managers, alt-text writers, style editors, authors, writers, and typesetters). We have numerous WhatsApp groups as well. We are also on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?Yes, editors need to keep on spreading awareness about their profession, because a lot of people do not know what we do and why it is important, do not know that editing and proofreading are different tasks and involve different sets of activities, and do not know that editing can be a well-paying profession. 

How might we get buy-in during the editing process from authors who may not be receptive to changes?
Well, we need to show them before-and-after samples and show how a meaning different from what they intend will be passed on to the reader if the proposed editorial changes are not carried out. 

How diverse is your office? 
When I worked in-house, everyone was welcome, although we always had more women than men. 

Have you faced any hurdles in getting into/advancing in the copyediting profession because you are a person of color? Or have you observed such barriers for others? 
I have never faced any barrier, although I have seen the “native editor” requirement or, sometimes, a doctoral-level experience requirement for some freelance jobs. I must say that I have been lucky to have a regular client all these years and have had to refuse jobs from other clients rather than go client hunting from time to time.

Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
I would say that employers should invest in training youngsters and building up in-house and freelance resources so that there is an enriching two-way learning process in which people work as a team and grow together.

THE PERSONAL

Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
It has to be related to our group Indian Copyeditors Forum. On May 10, 2020, when the world was under lockdown, we started a 40-session Sunday Zoom series, and we had our 28th consecutive session this Sunday. On October 4, 2020, a six-speaker panel presented a webinar on Indian English, which was attended by editors all over the world. 

On September 12, 2020, we launched an interview series titled What’s Editing Anyway? These interviews occur every alternate Saturday. 

On the remaining two Saturdays of the month, we give our members a break from editing-related matters by taking them on a virtual world tour as part of our ICF Travel series. 

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
Whatever time I get after work goes into building my community of editors. I love to read books related to editing. What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing, edited by Peter Ginna; The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier, by Bonnie Trenga; It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences, by June Casagrande; and the second edition of The Subversive Copyeditor, by Carol Fisher Saller are some of the books I have read in the last year.

RESOURCES

What resources would you share with fellow editors?
The ICF webinar series (recordings for most of the sessions are available on our YouTube channel) is a gold mine. The blogs on our website — contributed by editors all over the world — are also masterpieces. 

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or about diversity in the profession?
I love connecting with people and connecting people. I would love to see young people take up the profession and interact with experienced editors. They should never be afraid of asking anything they do not know (even after doing their research). If we ask, we learn; if we don’t, we don’t.

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