Interview 31: Aishwariya Laxmi

Years editing: 11
Job title: Consultant editor
Job description: Edits different kinds of content (from infographics to case studies) and develops company style guides
Location: Suburban Chennai, India

EXPERIENCE

How did you get your current job?
My boss from a previous office approached me with a work-from-home offer.

What copyediting training have you had, and what positions have you held?
I have a master’s degree in journalism and communication. I’ve been a freelance journalist, copywriter of greeting cards, associate creative director at a leading advertising agency, and copywriter of marketing collateral at a technology company. I’ve worked in copyediting roles with the National Institute of Information Technology, Aptech, UBS, The World Bank, India Syndicate, Flipkart, and now Gutenberg.

DOING THE JOB

Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
Yes, it’s important to know about content marketing, graphic design, and social media. One must also have subject matter expertise in various domains and knowledge of marketing communications. Only then can one adapt to changing market requirements. 

Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)? 
I use Grammarly after two rounds of editing the document myself. Sometimes, Grammarly’s suggestions may introduce errors in the article, so I check whether the suggestion is sound before incorporating it. Editing tools are not helpful when it comes to logic, flow, rephrasing for clarity, and pruning to a word limit.

COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

How do you and your colleagues talk about editing with each other?
I’m an editor in the content department, and I’m the only one with this designation, although the other team members sometimes edit content. I run a blog called Sentence Bytes for knowledge sharing. 

Do you participate in a community that supports editors?
I am a member of the Indian Copyeditors Forum Facebook group, run by Vivek Kumar. I attend the webinars when I can. I belong to the Editors’ Association of Earth Facebook group and follow the Editorial Freelancers Association Facebook page. I’m also a member of other Facebook groups for editing, content marketing, search engine optimization, writing, and book promotion.

Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
Editors work behind the scenes due to their personalities and the job itself. Their work often goes unnoticed, since it is the writers who get the credit for the work they do. So editors must network and have an active presence on the internet to promote themselves and keep up with industry trends. 

How might we get buy-in during the editing process from authors who may not be receptive to changes?
In my case, since I work on a team, I send out one round of edits to the writer, and then the writer looks into the changes. If the writer has any feedback on the changes, it goes to my boss and does not come back to me.

BUILDING DIVERSITY

How diverse is your office? 
We have people from Italy, America, and India, among others, working from different locations. None of them are editors; they have other roles in the organization. 

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 am an Indian living in India, so I haven’t faced any hurdles in getting into or advancing in copyediting. However, some work environments have been toxic and extremely corrosive. 

What lessons would you have liked to learn at the beginning of your career?
The collegiate education we get does not prepare us for the world of work in offices, and many skills have to be picked up on the job. One has to have the ability to adapt. Also, one must be a lifelong learner and “unlearner.” 

Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
Offices and employers must actively reach out to hire more women candidates and persons of color as a part of diversity and inclusion efforts. Organizations must be equal-opportunity employers and pay fair wages.

THE PERSONAL

Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
I was an editorial consultant to the team that contributed to the project that won the gold at the 2019 India Content Leadership Awards and Conference. The team received the award in the “Content as an Enabler” category, under the segment “Best Content in a Business Blog/Website,” for its work in revamping the client’s corporate website.

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I’m an avid reader, and I’ve been reviewing books for publishing houses — first on my Ash Talks Books blog and now on my recently launched site, Aishwariya’s Littlog. I also write flash fiction and poetry. 

RESOURCES

What resources would you share with fellow editors?
I have several links to share: Lexico dictionary for British English and Merriam-Webster for American English, Tysto’s British and American spelling list, Title Case Converter, Small SEO Tools for checking for plagiarism, Sentence Bytes links for parallel construction, and Grammar Girl.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or about diversity in the profession?
I’ve recently been published in five anthologies: Extreme Drabbles of Dread: A Horror Anthology, The Great Indian Anthology: Express Edition: Volume 2, HBB Micro Fiction Anthology: Selected Entries: Horror, Anthology of Short Stories: Volume One, and To Be or Not to Be a Writer (an anthology published by Sweetycat Press). My poetry has been published by Spillwords. I’ve written on women’s issues for Women’s Web, and I’m a member of The Himalayan Book Club.

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